Scott Sibella Sentenced in Connection to Illegal Gambling Ring

scot sibella sentenced for illegal gambling
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If you are an online baccarat player, then the world of money laundering in Las Vegas probably feels as if it has little relevance. However, there is every chance that you have been exasperated by Know Your Customer (KYC) rules, requiring you to submit various documents before you can play or withdraw winnings. The following recent case is an excellent example of what these rules are designed to prevent.

Former Las Vegas casino executive Scott Sibella sentenced to 12 months probation, a $9,500 fine, and a $100 special assessment for his involvement in the Wayne Nix illegal gambling ring. The sentencing took place last month in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

The court proceedings, which had few attendees and proceeded without incident, concluded with Sibella being found guilty of failing to file a suspicious activity report during his tenure at MGM Grand. Sibella had exchanged $120,000 with Nix, an illegal bookmaker, for a casino marker.

Sibella, the first individual sentenced in the federal investigation into Nix’s activities, appeared somber as he received his sentence. During the 18-minute session, Sibella apologized to the court, his family, friends, and the casino industry. He acknowledged the gravity of his actions and expressed his determination to avoid future legal troubles.

“I want to apologise to the court, my family, my friends, the casino industry. Committing this crime has turned my life upside down and I look forward to moving forward. And I promise you will never see me in this court for anything like this again.”

Lighter Sentence in Recognition of Clean Record

Despite facing a potential maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, Sibella received a lighter sentence. Judge Dolly M Gee cited his clean record, community contributions, and acceptance of responsibility as factors in her decision. These considerations lowered the sentencing guidelines, resulting in probation and a fine.

Following the sentencing, Sibella chose not to speak with the media, and his attorney, Jeffrey Rutherford, provided comments off the record. However, a statement from Sibella was shared via email, in which he expressed relief at the conclusion of the case and gratitude for the support from his friends and family.

“I’m relieved to have this matter concluded and accept the terms imposed today by the court. As I have said throughout this investigation, I regret the pain this has caused my friends and family and am extremely grateful for those who chose to stand with me throughout these difficult times. The decision to plead to the single charge, for failing to file a suspicious activity report (SAR) at MGM Resorts in 2017, was not easily arrived at given the underlying facts and realities in this matter. I was charged from the very beginning for not filing a SAR, accepted a plea and have taken full and complete responsibility for what I did. I want to reiterate that by anything alleged, I gained no benefit – neither personal, professional or financial.”

During sentencing, Judge Gee noted that she received an unprecedented 81 letters in support of Sibella’s character.

The federal investigation also implicated Ippei Mizuhara, a former interpreter for baseball player Shohei Ohtani. Mizuhara agreed to plead guilty to bank fraud and submitting a false tax return. He is accused of wiring $17 million from Ohtani’s account to pay off an illegal bookmaker. Mizuhara’s involvement in the Nix gambling ring is separate from Sibella’s case.

Sibella Admits to Intentional Ignorance

Sibella’s legal troubles began last fall when Resorts World terminated his employment upon learning of the investigation. In December, he agreed to plead guilty. According to his plea agreement, Sibella was aware of Nix’s illegal bookmaking activities from August 2017 and allowed him to gamble at MGM Grand, providing him with luxury perks.

The plea agreement revealed that Sibella knew of Nix and his associates placing a $5 million bet on the Super Bowl in January 2019. Despite suspecting Nix’s source of funds, Sibella chose to ignore the situation to avoid complicating his professional responsibilities.

Sibella’s legal journey was relatively swift, with his guilty plea accepted in December 2023 and sentencing completed within five months. He admitted in the plea agreement that he intentionally remained ignorant of Nix’s activities to avoid having to take action against a known bookmaker.

“I didn’t want to know because of my position,” Sibella said in the plea agreement. “In this business they [bookies] are a dime a dozen… I stay out of it. If we know, we can’t allow them to gamble. I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to know I guess, because he wasn’t doing anything to cheat the casino.”

During Sibella’s tenure, Nix received extensive perks from MGM Grand and its associated properties over nearly two years. These perks included free meals, golf outings, and complimentary stays at the resorts.

As a consequence of these activities, both The Cosmopolitan and MGM Grand agreed to a $7.5 million settlement with the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California to address money laundering violations. Nix, who formerly played minor league baseball, admitted guilt to a charge of conspiracy to run an illegal sports gambling operation.

Nix’s sentencing, which has experienced several delays, is now set for September 25 in a California District Court.

Caroline Richardson
Caroline Richardson Read Bio
Hi all, I’m Caroline. I’m based in Boston, Massachusetts, with my husband and our three noisy and inquisitive kids. I began my career in journalism, working for several Boston-based....
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