Sibella faced a judge on Wednesday

Former Las Vegas casino executive Scott Sibella faces legal scrutiny over illegal gambling activities

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Scott Sibella, a former top Las Vegas casino executive, found himself in legal jeopardy as he was due to stand before a federal judge on Wednesday. His appearance was a result of his admission of allowing an illegal bookmaker to engage in high-stakes gambling at the MGM Grand, coupled with facilitating the payment of debts in cash. 

The admission came as part of his guilty plea in January to violating federal anti-money laundering regulations, which mandate casinos to report suspicious transactions. Sibella's actions potentially subject him to a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Following Sibella's confession, both the MGM Grand and the neighboring Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas agreed to settle a related U.S. Justice Department money laundering inquiry. The settlements, totaling $7.45 million, included provisions for external scrutiny and compliance measures.

In a bid to mitigate the severity of his sentence, Sibella's legal team, comprising attorneys Jeffrey Rutherford in Los Angeles and John Spilotro in Las Vegas, sought leniency and probation from U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles. They supplemented their plea with testimonial letters of support, one notably from Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill, head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Scott Sibella

The crux of Sibella's case revolved around his association with Wayne Nix, a former minor league baseball player residing in Newport Coast, California. Nix, currently awaiting sentencing, had pleaded guilty in April 2022 to running an illegal gambling operation and filing a falsified tax return. 

Court documents revealed that Sibella facilitated Nix's gambling activities at MGM Grand and its affiliated properties, utilizing proceeds from illicit gambling without reporting them to the casinos' compliance department.

In a statement to federal investigators in January 2022, Sibella admitted to being aware of Nix's involvement in the illegal booking business but chose to remain aloof due to his position. He “heard that Nix was in the booking business” and he "couldn’t figure out how he had all the money he gambled with.”

“I didn’t want to know because of my position,” Sibella told investigators. “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.”

Sibella's professional trajectory includes stints as president and chief operating officer of the MGM Grand for eight years, followed by a tenure as president of Resorts World Las Vegas until 2023.

Nevada's gaming regulators contemplate punitive measures against him. A complaint lodged by the state Gaming Control Board investigators, dated April 30, proposed the revocation or suspension of Sibella's state gambling license, alongside a fine of up to $750,000.

Before his involvement with Resorts World, Sibella held executive roles at The Mirage and Treasure Island casinos on the famed Las Vegas Strip. His career trajectory, however, took a downward turn with his termination from Resorts World in September 2023, following allegations of policy violations and breach of employment terms.

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