El Cortez Casino Thief Swipes $19K in Chips from Table

Posted on: September 7, 2022, 01:36h. 

Last updated on: September 7, 2022, 07:22h.

At 6:49 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, a man belly-flopped onto a craps table at El Cortez casino in downtown Las Vegas. He then brazenly grabbed more than $19K in chips from the dealer, according to Scott Roeben of Casino.org, whose Vital Vegas blog broke the story yesterday.

El Cortez chip robbery 2022 thief
A brazen thief is caught on a security camera stealing $19K of chips from El Cortez on Sept. 6, 2022. (Image: vitalvegas.com)

The thief, who appeared to be unarmed, exited the casino and is still at large. Non-security casino personnel are instructed not to fight with or try detaining criminals.

The theft has yet to be confirmed or commented about by El Cortez. But Roeben obtained an exclusive surveillance photo of what he called the “bold and utterly moronic move.”

As Roeben pointed out, surveillance footage will ensure that the thief can never enter the El Cortez again, nor any other Fremont Street area casino, without getting arrested. According to Roeben, all other downtown casinos were immediately informed of the robbery. Despite being competitors, they do collaborate on catching crooks.

In addition, the thief’s chips are worth nothing until they’re cashed in at an El Cortez casino cage. At this point, payment can be denied or delayed for any reason, which of course, includes having stolen them during a live craps game.

Can’t He Have a Friend Cash Them In?

All casinos keep track of their highest rollers via a rating system. The primary use of this system is to offer their “whales” complimentary rooms and meals.

However, red flags are immediately raised whenever a non-whale is observed attempting to cash out a large number of chips they weren’t observed winning at the casino.

The same goes for any person unknown to the casino making multiple trips to the cage to cash in small chip amounts.


Unfortunately, the El Cortez isn’t one of the many modern casinos that uses radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in its chips. This may be why the thief chose to hit that particular casino. RFID tags allow chips to be remotely deactivated by the issuing casino.

On Dec. 14, 2010, the Bellagio was robbed of $1.5M in chips by an armed man riding a motorcycle into the casino.

RFID technology helped bust Tony Carleo, the son of Las Vegas Municipal Judge George Assad, as the “biker bandit.” After he discovered his stolen chips were worthless, he was arrested after trying to sell the $25K denominations on an internet poker forum.

Still, enough security measures are in place at the El Cortez to virtually ensure the thief’s apprehension sooner or later, Roeben noted.

“We aren’t exactly dealing with a criminal genius, so it shouldn’t take long,” he wrote.