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Former casino executive pleads guilty to federal charges

Updated January 25, 2024 - 7:12 pm

Scott Sibella, the former president and chief operating officer of Resorts World, pleaded guilty Wednesday to failing to report to federal officers about illegal gamblers playing at MGM Grand when he worked there in 2018.

Sibella pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for failing to file suspicious activities reports while employed at MGM to federal officials investigating the presence of illegal bookmakers in violation of anti-money-laundering laws.

Sibella spent eight years as president of MGM Grand Las Vegas before joining Resorts World.

Sibella’s guilty plea means he faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Through his attorneys, Sibella issued a statement indicating he plans to continue to work in the gaming industry.

“I am pleased to have this investigation and its findings reaching a conclusion,” said Sibella’s statement, emailed late Wednesday. “I take full responsibility for my actions and inactions, but I must make clear I took no action for my personal benefit or inurement. I wish to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its professionalism throughout this process.

“I am proud of my 35 years of contributions and leadership to the industry that has meant so much to and has supported me. I am appreciative of the many colleagues with whom I have been associated over my career and that I have been entrusted to lead, and who have supported me and my family throughout this process. As this process comes to a conclusion, I look forward to continuing to provide my knowledge, skills and insights to support the continued growth, evolution and professionalism of the gaming industry.”

The president of Resorts World Las Vegas since before the Strip resort opened its doors in June 2021, Sibella, 61, was removed from his position there in September 2023. Former Resorts World Chief Financial Officer Peter LaVoie was named the new CEO for the 3,500-room resort operated by Malaysia-based Genting Berhad.

Resorts World officials said Sibella’s removal came as a result of them being made aware that he violated company policies and the terms of his employment contract.

Sibella said Wednesday he could not talk specifically about the case. Asked if he was fired from Resorts World because of the investigation at the MGM Grand, Sibella said he was let go three days after confiding in officials that there was an investigation ongoing at MGM from 2017. The ex-resorts exec added his dismissal was not because of job-performance concerns at Resorts World.

In his time with Resorts World, Sibella helped the resort enter into a franchise agreement with Hilton Hotels Corp., which brought the Hilton Honors program and its vast database to the Las Vegas property. Hilton brought its Hilton, Conrad and Crockfords brands to Resorts World.

Sibella also touted Resorts World as the Strip’s most sophisticated property for cashless gaming in his time with the company.

A Las Vegas native, Sibella graduated from UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration with a bachelor’s degree hotel administration.

He began his career in hospitality with an internship at the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas and eventually worked his way up to hotel manager. Sibella was named president and chief operating officer of The Mirage in 2007. He subsequently went on to become president and chief operating officer of the MGM Grand.

Sibella is the defendant in a pending lawsuit alleging negligence, civil conspiracy and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Robert “R.J.” Cipriani, who said he gambled at the Strip resort since it opened in June 2021. Attorneys for Sibella said the lawsuit was a rehashing of unfounded allegations made against Sibella in 2022.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board in February closed a nearly year-old investigation into allegations made against Sibella and determined them to be unfounded.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X. John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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