Gaming Control Board Investigates Alleged “Office Space”-Style Thefts by Station Casinos Executive
We are going to have to ask for a do-over on this story.
On Sep. 20, 2023, we shared a story about being the victim of a theft of players club points at Red Rock Casino. We sort of made light of it, mostly because we didn’t grasp the “nature or scope” of the alleged crime.
We have more context now, and it’s a much bigger deal, so let’s try this again.
Our original headline read: “Master Criminal Steals Loyalty Club Points Worth Dozens of Dollars From Red Rock Players.” (You can read the original story at the bottom of the page.)
We trivialized the situation: 1) Because we trivialize everything, 2) we thought it was trivial, and 3) we were pretty much told it was trivial by representatives of Station Casinos.
We don’t think it’s trivial anymore.
Here’s a quick recap of what happened: We were informed by a Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) investigator that players club points had been stolen from our account, and the accounts of other customers, by someone at Red Rock Resort. Red Rock is owned by Station Casinos, which is part of Red Rock Resorts, Inc., a public company.
The investigator gave some basic information, but made it clear he’s in the early stages of the investigation. He was notifying victims of the crime to confirm they hadn’t given permission to anyone to access their accounts.
The agent said he’d contacted 10 victims, and couldn’t share much else.
So, we reached out to Station Casinos. We interact with their public relations team fairly regularly, and while we assumed they couldn’t say much, we’d ask, anyway.
We contacted Station Casinos as a courtesy, so their P.R. team wouldn’t be blindsided by our story. In retrospect, that was a mistake. We got played.
We were contacted by the V.P. of Public Relations and a senior V.P. of Government Relations, Public Policy and Communications.
We were informed the points stolen from our account were valued at $15. Trivial and amusing!
We shared with Station Casinos that the GCB investigator told us the culprit was someone higher up in the company, because not everyone has access to customer accounts or has the authority to add or remove players club points.
The Station Casinos reps then denied the alleged thief was a senior executive, but rather a low-level “kid in his 20s” who’d had a lapse in judgement.
Trivial and amusing, so we wrote the first version our story, with all the requisite snark. We may have referred to the “kid” as an asshat, as is our way.
And we botched it. Because we took them at their word. It turns out this situation isn’t trivial or amusing, at all.
A source who wishes to remain anonymous at Station Casinos then communicated to us who they understand to have been involved in the theft. The alleged pilferer was the since-terminated Director of Innovation at Station Casinos.
We reached out to Station Casinos to try and confirm this information, to the P.R. rep, the V.P. of Government Relations and to the executive involved, crickets ensued.
Or as it’s known in journalism, “confirmed.”
Our source also says while the amount stolen from loyalty club accounts was relatively small, they believe the number of victims is much larger than the GCB investigator is even aware of at this stage of the inquiry. (Again, this information has not been confirmed. What’s next is speculation, Station Casinos legal team.)
Ever watch the movie, “Office Space”?
In “Office Space,” the characters concoct a scheme to embezzle from their company by stealing tiny sums of money, adding up to a substantial amount. The scam was also used in “Superman III,” and it’s known as “salami slicing.”
We obviously thought it odd a casino executive would risk his reputation and career for a few players club points, worth a few dollars, but it starts to make sense when you understand the pool of victims may not have been small.
Players club points have a real world value, and a large number of small thefts could add up to a big number.
We found it very suspicious we were one of a small handful victims, as that would’ve been an extraordinary coincidence. Either we’d been targeted (we aren’t the biggest player at Red Rock, by a mile), or the number of victims was much larger than had been reported by Station Casinos to the Gaming Control Board.
Either scenario is juicy, but also concerning. If you think we’re simply guessing about the minefield we stumbled into, read on.
Some of these giant red arrows point to a similar crime from more than a decade ago. An analyst for MGM Mirage (now called MGM Resorts), Tony Ahn, stole more than $860,000 from casino customers.
The crime was described like this by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Ahn used his company position to identify regular customers with unused free play points, transferred the points to counterfeit players club cards and recruited people to gamble with the cards at the company’s casinos along the Strip, the court documents allege.”
This is almost exactly the way the GCB investigator described what happened to our Boarding Pass points. The alleged perpetrator identified accounts where players weren’t active in redeeming their points, so it was likely they wouldn’t notice their points had been stolen. That was certainly true in our case. We had no idea they’d been stolen, and have no way to know how many will be restored to our account. It’s not really about that now.
We barely know what a “free play point” is, or how it differs from a regular loyalty club point. We have no idea which kind of points were taken from our Boarding Pass account.
Ahn lost his job (sounds familiar) and eventually pled guilty in federal court to heading up the scam. We trust Station Casinos is working with law enforcement in addition to the Gaming Control Board to pursue charges. Our source believes that’s the case.
In the MGM case, there were accomplices who gambled with counterfeit cards loaded up with the stolen free play points. The GCB investigator we spoke to didn’t mention the involvement of others.
The attempt to divert our attention by Station’s reps was admirable, but after doing a Las Vegas blog for a decade, our bullshit detector is fairly good. (Examples: “Corey Harrison wasn’t drunk, his truck’s wheel alignment made him swerve!” “Eddie Griffin just decided to end his residency out of the blue!” “All Net Arena is fully funded!” “We’re just going to carefully dig up and relocate these trees for F1!” “Kaos is fine and definitely isn’t closing!”)
As we said, the investigation is in its early stages. Everyone’s innocent until proven guilty, but as we’ve said before: Where there’s smoke, there’s fired.
We know with certainty this issue would probably have never seen the light of day if we hadn’t been one of the victims.
Such investigations are confidential, and the Gaming Control Board’s process is a bit murky, even to those in the industry. They can levy fines, but most investigations are confidential. The rules change if there’s an arrest (as that’s public record), but companies would often rather just fire someone and not press charges, just to avoid public embarrassments (like this one) that could affect their stock price.
Public companies have rules about transparency, but it’s pretty clear Red Rock Resorts, Inc. would’ve loved to have this situation stay off the radar. We almost helped. We had no idea this scam exists in real life, honestly. We thought it was just a movie thing.
The Gaming Control Board’s primary goal in this investigation seems to be ensuring points are restored to victims. We appreciate that, but this has much larger implications, and we don’t love this cone of silence that falls whenever casino companies are asked awkward questions.
This wasn’t some low-level loose cannon as we were told. It was a director-level employee with access to personal customer data. We trust that access included anyone in the Station Casinos database, no matter where they play.
Again, Station Casinos has not confirmed the identity of the executive involved, nor has the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Station Casinos has not said our source is wrong.
Full disclosure: We met the alleged point pilferer when Station Casinos was inviting media to talk about their STN Charms program. He seemed cool. We interviewed him for our podcast. It’s likely he’ll never work in the casino industry again, even if this isn’t pursued through legal channels. Stations’ hand might be forced at this point.
There’s no good time for a scandal, but this is an especially bad time for Station Casinos as it nears the opening of its new Durango Casino & Resort. We’re pretty sure we’re uninvited, shoot the messengerwise.
The “nature and scope” of the crime remains unknown, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board is just getting started. It’s frustrating there’s so little transparency in this process. The casino self-reports, GCB investigates confidentially, and no matter the outcome, victims and the public may never know what happened or how.
You’ll know more when we do.
In the meantime, read our wildly naive version of this story before any dots were connected, below. There’s even a labia joke, just to make it worth your while.
More to come. Check your players club points and report anything suspicious to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Update (9/22/23): The plot continues to thicken. While we haven’t provided the name of the person under investigation yet, we did mention the podcast episode he appeared in. We’ve since been contacted by an additional source who confirms this executive is no longer with Station Casinos. The individual in question has deleted his social media accounts, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The deletion of the social media accounts have happened in the last 48 hours, following the publication of our story. We assume that decision was based upon the advice of a lawyer. We’ve also been informed the Innovation department at Red Rock Casino has been shut down and boarded up. We’ve also learned another tidbit that could explain the recent actions of the representatives of Station Casinos, specifically misrepresenting the nature and seriousness of these thefts. From what we’ve been told, the individual being investigated is the godson of Bob Finch, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer at Red Rock Resorts. It appears the company representatives were not only trying to avoid the story about the thefts coming out, they were also circling the wagons for one of their own, a member of the family. No excuse for the behavior, but the seeming willingness to risk additional fallout makes much more sense.
On a personal note, why the hell are we feeling guilty about all this? We didn’t steal anything. We’re sharing facts about an investigation. Yes, he’s a nice guy. He also screwed up. There are consequences, and while it would be great for everyone involved if this went away, that’s not happening. Even if we didn’t stumble on this story, Gaming is going to pursue it, and there may be legal consequences. Even a nice guy with connections (presumably that go to the top of Red Rock Resorts and Station Casinos) has to pay the piper for wrongdoing. We did boneheaded things when we were young, too. You suck it up, deal with the fallout and forge ahead.
Updated (9/25/23): This onion has even more layers. Kirk Hendrick is the Chair and Executive Director of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the entity that polices the casino industry in Nevada. He was appointed by Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo. Hendrick’s professional accomplishments include being a key member of the executive team of the UFC organization from 2002 to 2017. At that time, Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta owned the UFC. The Fertitta brothers own Station Casinos. When Joe Lombardo ran for Governor, 10 members of the Fertitta family donated a combined $100,000 to his campaign. Translation: This puts the chances of the Station Casinos executive who pilfered points from customers being charged for this crime at approximately zero. The same goes for any real accountability, beyond a slap on the wrist, for Station Casinos from the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Vegas at its most Vegas.
Master Criminal Steals Loyalty Club Points Worth Dozens of Dollars From Red Rock Players
(Originally posted Sep. 20, 2023)
Just when we thought we had all our contenders for “Weirdest Las Vegas News of 2023,” we have another.
And this one’s personal.
The story begins with a call from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB). Before you ask, no, we are not making this up.
We assumed the Control Board agent was calling to let us know we’d Tweeted something stupid and were going to be arrested. We always assume that’s why anyone’s calling, even our mom.
The agent was very cool, though, and informed us he is currently investigating the theft of loyalty club points from players at Red Rock Resort.
The twist: We were personally one of the victims of this crime.
The agent said there were 10 victims.
The theft of players club points happened in July 2023.
The agent shared that the loyalty club points thief was a Red Rock team member, and the employee is no longer an employee. We trust the alleged asshat will never work at a Las Vegas casino again.
The agent said the incident appeared to be limited in scope, and that the victims would be receiving their players points back from Red Rock Casino, part of Station Casinos.
We asked the GCB investigator if any of this was confidential, and he said all GCB investigations are confidential (unless they result in arrests, which are public). Thankfully, we aren’t connected to the GCB, so we can say anything we damn well want.
We reached out to Red Rock Resorts for comment, but naturally, we got a “No comment.” It’s no mystery why. Primarily, a public company can’t comment on an ongoing investigation.
They are also probably not thrilled that one of the 10 victims of this crime has a wildly popular blog and Twitter account.
We get it. While Station Casinos can’t comment, we assume they’d like to make it abundantly clear this was not a hack or cyberattack. Rather, as the investigator said, this was a lone bonehead (we’re paraphrasing) doing something incredibly stupid. Not Russian hackers, not the Mexican drug cartel, not organized crime. Just one dumbass.
What makes this theft even dumber? In our personal case, the value of the stolen players club points was $15.
That’s not a typo.
This raises a number of questions, including, “WTF were you thinking, bro?”
While we’re sort of making light of this situation, there are more serious concerns.
We aren’t the biggest players at Red Rock Casino, so it’s odd we’d be one of the 10 victims of the aforementioned asshat. Which makes us curious what the criteria was for getting into this handful of accounts, including whether we were targeted because we are incredibly important. If it wasn’t for financial gain, was this a Twitter hater looking for some personal information to sell or share? We’re pretty much an open book, but loyalty club data includes social security numbers, physical addresses and the like.
An employee can see where you’ve played, how much you’ve played (dollar-in) and other personal nuggets. We’re pretty sure we provided our penis size at some point. We can’t recall if we were asked for it, but we provided it.
If you’ve ever seen one of those “When the fun stops” brochures, having an employee get into your personal information is where the fun stops for us.
We trust a reason Station Casinos isn’t going to comment on this is the company is nervous because some people are litigious, and when they find out an employee stole points or gained access to personal information in their loyalty club account, they might pursue legal action. (There’s currently a class action lawsuit against MGM Resorts for a data breach in 2019. Apples and oranges, but still.)
Such a story would never see the light of day, typically.
We love Red Rock Casino, and will continue to play there with our loyalty club card. You think we’re going to miss out on Nielsens Frozen Custard just because some jabroni (who’s reading this story, by the way, guaranteed) screwed up their career by breaking the law and pilfering a handful of players club points?
We don’t know how many were stolen from other customers, by the way. We get the feeling that may not have been the primary motivation here.
As we’ve said often about the Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts hacks, humans will always be the weak link in security, cyber and otherwise.
We hope the employee who poked around in our account and stole our players club points was just young and foolish, and not a stalker who is going to show up on our doorstep wearing someone else’s skin.
We live in interesting times. We all get the benefit of technology, so we are forced to deal with the “glitches” as well.
We’ll share any other news about this strange drama, including any notification of the crime from Station Casinos. It’s unclear who reported the crime (Station Casinos or a victim), and we’re also unsure who at Station Casinos was aware this investigation was even happening.
Station Casinos will probably dub this an “internal personnel matter,” and we’ll never know the specifics of the situation, or why we were targeted (sorry, randomly selected from millions of people in the loyalty club system). That’s Vegas.
If you were one of the 10 victims involved in this bizarro scenario, or if you’d had something similar happen at another casino, we’d love to hear from you. If the other victims were content creators, this story changes trajectory in a big way.
Watch your casino loyalty club account closely for any suspicious activity, and if somebody tries to sell you our personal information, please don’t encourage this kind of data theft. Unless you are an attractive woman, then please pony up for our phone number and slide into our DMs, or whatever the kids are doing now. Reminder: We know where the labia are.