Resorts World NYC Casino Bid Could Be Derailed by Ohtani Translator Betting Scandal

Posted on: May 13, 2024, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: May 13, 2024, 10:14h.

The probe into the illicit sports wagering habits of Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shoei Ohtani, could be detrimental to Genting’s ambitions of procuring a New York City casino license.

Resorts World Las Vegas
Resorts World Las Vegas. The venue’s alleged role in transferring cash from Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shoei Ohtani, to an illegal bookie could harm its New York City casino hopes. (Image: Resorts World Las Vegas)

Malaysia-based Genting owns Resorts World New York in Queens, a slots-only venue that’s competing to land one of three downstate casino permits Empire State regulators are expected to award in late 2025 or early the following year. Genting also controls Resorts World Las Vegas, one of the gaming venues through which Mizuhara funneled a portion of the $16 million he allegedly stole from Ohtani.

Investigators believe Mizuhara deposited cash into accounts at Resorts World Las Vegas and Pechanga Resort Casino, a tribal gaming venue in Southern California. That cash was used for casino chips and when the chips were cashed in, the proceeds were directed to California-based bookmaker Mathew Bowyer, a bookmaker in California to whom Mizuhara owed money.

Earlier this month, an internal memo from the Strip property surfaced indicating that Mizhuhara has never been a customer. However, Bowyer was a frequent guest of Resorts World Las Vegas and is rumored to have lost almost $8 million at the integrated resort between June 2022 and October 2023.

Mizuhara Probe Could Plague Resorts World New York

While the New York City casino process has proven lethargic, it was believed at the onset that Genting’s Queens property was in prime position to win one of the three permits. It’s been open since 2011 and despite not being able to offer table games, it’s one of the highest-grossing regional casinos in the country, and has delivered more than $4 billion to the state’s public education systems since its opening.

That point is unlikely to be lost on regulators, but as some experts told Carl Campanile and Josh Kosman of the New York Post, when it comes to casino licensing, reputation is paramount. Nelson Rose, a gaming industry legal expert and publisher of the Gambling and the Law blog told the Post “one of the standards for casino licensing is reputation.”

A scandal of this size hurts the gaming industry, especially because it comes so soon after legal sports betting exploded across the country.  It was only in May 2018 that the US Supreme Court threw out the federal law preventing states from legalizing betting on sports,” opined Rose in a May 3 article on his blog.

While Bowyer hasn’t been charged with a crime related to the Mizuhara imbroglio, he is being investigated by the IRS and an unidentified Las Vegas source told the Post he is well-known for being a black market bookie in Sin City. It’s possible that combination of factors could weigh on Genting’s efforts to win a New York casino permit.

Sibella Connection

Scott Sibella, the former president of Resorts World Las Vegas and head of MGM Grand on the Strip, could play a role in the New York casino competition. He recently received a fine and probation from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) for allowing illegal bookies to wager at MGM Grand.

Last September, Sibella was fired from the Genting Strip property for violating company policy. It’s possible his ties to Genting’s Las Vegas casino hotel could weigh on the operator’s New York ambitions.

The Post reported Sibella’s prior employment at MGM Resorts International could lead to reputational risk in New York for that operator. Along with Resorts World New York, MGM’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers has been viewed as a leading contender for one of the three downstate licenses.

New York regulators have yet to comment on the possibility of the Mizuhara and Sibella cases potentially harming Genting and MGM in the state’s casino competition.