Sibella Scandal Could Plague MGM New York Casino Effort

Posted on: September 18, 2023, 10:55h. 

Last updated on: September 19, 2023, 07:00h.

Scott Sibella’s recent firing by Resorts World Las Vegas could have implications for MGM Resorts International’s — his former employer — efforts to land a New York City casino license.

Sibella scandal
Former Resorts World Las Vegas President Scott Sibella. A scandal he’s believed to be involved with could hamper MGM’s New York casino ambitions. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Last week, Genting-operated Resorts World Las Vegas let Sibella go for alleged violations of company policy. Though not confirmed by the Malaysian gaming giant, it’s believed Sibella’s departure is tied to his purported role in an illicit sports betting ring during his decade-long stint as president of MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip. Sibella held that role until 2019, when he joined Resorts World.

Earlier Monday, citing unidentified sources close to the matter, the New York Post reported that MGM’s efforts to land one of three New York City-area casino licenses may be plagued by the Sibella scandal.

Last month, it was revealed that federal law enforcement agencies are investigating an illegal sports wagering ring in Nevada believed to be formerly helmed by former minor league baseball player Wayne Nix. He pleaded guilty to various charges in April 2022 and could face up to eight years in prison for his role in the betting cartel, which is said to have operated for two decades. He’s slated to be sentenced in March 2024.

Sibella Scandal Could Shake New York Casino Race

In a bid to shore up ailing finances following the COVID-19 pandemic, New York lawmakers in 2022 approved three downstate casinos whose permits are expected to be awarded next year.

Since then, it’s been widely speculated that gaming companies are essentially vying for one license because MGM’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Resorts World New York in Queens were expected to be “grandfathered” in to receive two of the permits.

With ethics paramount in the New York casino bidding process, it’s possible that Sibella’s alleged misdeeds could hamper MGM’s ambitions in the city because his reputed actions took place when that gaming company employed him, a source told the Post.

Resorts World’s dismal of Sibella could be enough to signal to New York regulators that the Asian company took swift action and prioritized ethics and integrity. In other words, MGM could suffer more in New York at Sibella’s hands than Resorts World.

Plenty of Potential Beneficiaries

Missing out on a New York casino permit would be a blow to MGM. In January 2019, the gaming company completed its $850 million acquisition of Empire City from the Rooney family, owners of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers—the family-owned the casino and racetrack for over four decades.

Since then, the operator has doled out capital to prepare for New York’s legalization of sports wagering and, more importantly, to position for a conversion to a traditional casino.

Assuming the prognostications mentioned in the Post article prove accurate, there’s no shortage of contenders to fill the void created by MGM, if one is created at all.

Rivals, including Bally’s, Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts, are among the casino behemoths attempting to land New York casino licenses. Recent speculation, based on the assumption Empire City and Resorts World New York would get two of the permits, suggest Sands and Wynn were the leaders for the other license.