Casino robberies are almost inevitable: you have a ton of cash, cashier cages that are publicly accessible, and in many gambling towns like Las Vegas, plenty of people who are desperate for dough.
Despite casinos having some of the most high-tech surveillance in the world, known as the “eye in the sky” and totally visible to anyone who looks up, robbers still decide to test their luck by holding up gambling floors each year.
2017 was no different, and an abundance of criminals tried for a quick score at casinos from Las Vegas all the way to the Philippines. Most got caught, and will likely be looking at serious prison sentences, as casinos aren’t famous for going easy when pressing charges against those who mess with their house banks.
Here’s a look back at some of the most notorious, and in some cases, bizarre, casino holdups of the past 365 days.
In June, a man wielding a high-powered rifle entered Resorts World in Manila and went to the casino’s high roller room on the windowless second floor. He poured gasoline and set fire to gaming tables, which caused panic and forced patrons into a corner. Though the perpetrator never shot anyone, the inhalation of smoke, and the lack of a clearly marked escape route or any windows, led to the deaths of 36 victims, both employees and gamblers.
It was later revealed that the gunman, a problem gambler, had originally planned to rob the resort. He killed himself in a stairwell when police moved in.
Poker Room Stealth
In November, a robber entered the Bellagio poker room with a handgun and demanded an unknown amount of cash. Casino personnel obliged swiftly and calmly, with poker players not even realizing a robbery was taking place.
The suspect escaped without being detained, and remains at large as of this writing.
Also last month, two gamblers in their 60s claimed they both mysteriously fell unconscious while playing the slots at an upstate New York casino. When they awoke at a hospital hours later, they said they had been robbed of $200 in cash and two $30 slot payout slips.
Robbery While Playing
In January, 52-year-old Kerry Johnson had been playing blackjack for five hours at a West Virginia casino when he asked the dealer to hold his spot. He left and went to a local bank, where he told a teller he had a bomb that would explode if the worker didn’t hand over cash.
Johnson left with $5,000, and returned to the Mardi Gras Casino in the tiny town of Nitro, where he continued losing his shirt at blackjack. He was later arrested by police. Johnson said he was in a drug-induced daze and had no recollection of the robbery, a defense that likely won’t help him much in front of a judge.
This fall, Belgian authorities announced an investigation into 30 police officers who stole the identities of hundreds of citizens to open online gambling accounts. Law officers are prohibited from partaking in any form of gambling in the European country.
According to reports, Antwerp’s not-so-finest officers opened hundreds of accounts under other people’s names, and obtained free gaming credits, later making withdrawals from the sites. The suspected officers face up to five years in prison if found guilty.
Las Vegas’ M Resort Casino had already had two robbery attempts, one succesful, one not so much, when security finally got their man on the third try by the same perp. Bizarrely, he turned out to be the unlikeliest of offenders: a local evangelist pastor.
Gregory Bolusan was preaching the gospel on the weekends, but for reasons not yet revealed, he allegedly stopped by the M Casino three times wearing the same clothes and parking in the same spot. It was later revealed that his wife had worked as a cage cashier shift supervisor, a position of which she has reportedly been relieved since the incidents.
Bolusan was charged with multiple counts, including burglary, one count of attempted robbery, and two counts of robbery. Because he used a gun, even though it later was determined to be fake, he could have decades added to his sentence if convicted. A trial date has not yet been set, and it’s unclear if he is free on bond.
The Las Vegas Grace Bible Church quickly terminated the pastor.