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Former MGM exec faces sanctions; gaming license could be revoked

Updated May 2, 2024 - 8:25 pm

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has filed a three-count complaint against former Las Vegas gaming executive Scott Sibella that could result in him having his gaming license suspended or revoked and a fine of up to $750,000.

The Control Board issued its formal complaint against Sibella Tuesday after months of speculation about possible action after he pleaded guilty to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, designed to prevent money laundering, on Jan. 25.

It also came more than a year after the Control Board closed an investigation into allegations made against Sibella, determining them to be unfounded.

Sibella is scheduled to be sentenced May 8 by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in the Central District of California. The U.S. attorney’s office of Central California had accused Sibella of failing to report the presence of illegal bookmakers gambling at the MGM Grand casino while he was president there.

The federal crime has a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Legal experts believe Sibella will instead be placed on one year’s probation and fined.

The U.S. attorney’s office investigation is under the El Camino Real Financial Crimes Task Force, a wide-ranging probe of illegal bookies and their associations with professional athletes. The investigation is connected with the allegations involving Los Angeles Dodgers baseball star Shohei Ohtani and his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara.

Mizuhara is accused by federal prosecutors of bank fraud in a $16 million theft from Ohtani’s bank account, which sent payments to Mathew Bowyer, a bookmaker based in Southern California.

Allegations made against Sibella

The Control Board’s complaint focuses on Sibella’s time with MGM when he would host “Scott Sibella Undercover Weekend” events, a reference to Sibella’s appearance on the reality television show “Undercover Boss.”

Bowyer and former minor league baseball player Wayne Nix, another illegal bookie, were Sibella’s guests at “Undercover” events.

Federal court records documented six occasions in which Sibella hosted Nix knowing that he shouldn’t have been allowed to play.

Court documents say Sibella deliberately avoided learning how Nix paid his casino markers and didn’t file any suspicious activity reports to authorities. Those are required whenever a transaction of more than $5,000 occurs.

According to federal court documents unsealed in January, Sibella admitted to law enforcement in 2022 that he believed Nix was involved in illegal sports bookmaking, but “didn’t want to know because of my position. … 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.”

The Sibella connection with Nix is the focus of the Control Board complaint. Sibella’s felony plea agreement with federal investigators was used to document the complaint.

“Sibella, knowing that Nix engaged in illegal bookmaking, allowed Nix to gamble at the MGM Grand and its affiliates and receive complementary benefits at the MGM Grand, including room, board and golf trips with senior executives and other high-net-worth customers of the casino to further encourage Nix to patronize the casino and/or affiliated properties,” the complaint says.

Sibella left MGM and took the role of president at Resorts World prior to its June 2021 opening. He was fired by Resorts World for violating company policies in September.

It’s unclear when the Nevada Gaming Commission will consider the Control Board complaint, which recommends penalties outlined in Nevada statutes.

The Nevada statute recommends penalties of license suspension or revocation and fines of at least $25,000 up to $250,000 per violation.

Sibella and the Control Board could enter a stipulated settlement agreement or the commission could conduct a hearing on the complaint.

Efforts to contact Sibella’s attorney were unsuccessful.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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