10 of the Most Absurd Casino Heists in History

Casinos store huge amounts of money on-site and their security is top-notch. This means that anyone attempting a heist has to come up with pretty absurd methods if they're going to be successful. Top10Casinos Canada wanted to see which casino heists stand out for being the most outrageous, daring and ambitious.

Written by Bonnie Gjurovska 8 minute read
10 of the most absurd casino heists in history

Video games, movies, and television shows tend to feature extremely intense casino heist scenes to get your blood pumping. While most of them are completely fiction, there have been a handful of absurd casino heists that happened in real life. Casinos have been targeted on numerous occasions due to the nature of their business. Some might feel wronged by these land-based establishments, while others believe that an unfathomable amount of cash will change their lives for the better.

Below, we'll take a closer look at 10 of the most absurd casino heists in history and whether these individuals for away with it or landed themselves in prison.

  • Bellagio in Las Vegas, 2000 - A High-Speed Crash

    Bellagio in Las Vegas, 2000

    One of the most famous casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip is Bellagio. With 3,933 rooms, it's the world's 16th-largest hotel. While it's known for its decadence, high-end restaurants, luxury shops, and excellent selection of slot machines, it's played host to several casino heists.

    Back in 2002, Cuban-born Jose Vigoa targeted the Bellagio along with his associates, Luis Suarex and Oscar Sanchez Cisneros. Vigoa had previously committed heists in several other Las Vegas Strip resorts, including Mandalay Bay and the MGM Grand. Bellagio would prove to be his downfall.

    On a fateful day in June 2000, Vigoa and his associates forcibly made their way to Bellagio's casino cashier and managed to steal approximately $160,000. It wasn't until four days later that the authorities caught up with Vigoa. A high-speed police chase resulted in the casino heist mastermind crashing into a tree. The police subsequently arrested him and he's now serving four life sentences for murdering two drivers in a previous heist attempt.

  • Stardust in Las Vegas, 1992 - The Disappearing Employee

    Stardust in Las Vegas, 1992

    Stardust was a casino resort on the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip that was open from 1958 to 2006. It offered a fantastic selection of casino games, including slots, blackjack and wide variety of roulette games. Back in 1992, it was the scene of a rather unusual heist. What makes it such a remarkable robbery is that the perpetrator has never been caught. There's also the fact that it wasn't a typical robbery; it was a lot more low-key.

    Here's what happened. On a typical day in September, Bill Brennan, who worked as a sportsbook cashier, left the casino after completing a shift. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this except that he had half a million dollars worth of cash and casino chips with him.

    Brennan was able to pull off this incredible heist thanks to his knowledge of the casino's security cameras. He knew where they were and was able to leave with the stolen money and chips without anyone realising he'd gone. What makes the heist even more farfetched is that Brennan was never seen again; he pretty much disappeared into thin air half a million dollars richer.

  • Circus Circus in Las Vegas, 1993 - A Daring Act

    Circus Circus in Las Vegas, 1993

    Heather Tallchief was persuaded by her boyfriend, Roberto Solis, to take a job with Loomis Armored, a company that offered armoured car services and had deals with various casinos in and around Las Vegas. Tallchief's role was to visit certain casinos throughout Vegas and replenish their ATMs with cash.

    She was at Circus Circus when she took off with the over $3 million in cash and the armoured vehicle she was responsible for. While she made her getaway, colleagues of hers were in the hotel refilling the ATMs. Tallchief then met up with her boyfriend and went on the run. Around a dozen years later, she turned herself in, admitting that her boyfriend had coerced her into carrying out the heist. She's since served a prison sentence, though Solis remains a fugitive to this day.

  • Crown Casino in Melbourne, 2013 - Successful Blackjack Game

    Crown Casino in Melbourne, 2013

    Unlike most of the other crazy casino heists on our list, this one didn't take place in Las Vegas. Instead, it happened in Melbourne, Australia. It's also worth pointing out that the people attempting the heist didn't manage to steal all the money.

    At Crown Casino in 2013, a millionaire businessman from New Zealand decided to play blackjack in a private room hosted by a VIP manager. This player ended up winning eight consecutive hands and was due to be paid a staggering $33 million in winnings. The casino's security staff were suspicious and discovered cameras had been tampered with.

    It turned out that the VIP manager and the high roller had worked together to attempt to rob the casino of its millions. The manager had been sending secret signals to the businessman, whose bets were deemed to be very suspicious. By the time the two were found out, only a percentage of the winnings had been paid. Crown Casino still lost some money, but it could have lost $33 million if the heist hadn't been discovered in time.

  • Bellagio in Las Vegas, 2017 - A Quiet Heist

    Bellagio in Las Vegas, 2017

    Going back to Las Vegas, Bellagio played host to another rather crazy casino heist in 2017. An armed man, whose identity still remains unknown, approached the casino's poker room cage and demanded money. The cashier quietly complied so as not to cause panic and provided the robber with an unknown amount of money. It's said that other people in the room at the time didn't know there was a robbery taking place.

    The suspect managed to escape without the police catching him. Although the police were provided with clear footage of both the incident and the suspect's getaway car, they've never been able to find and arrest him.

  • Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, 2017 - Targeting Players?

    Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, 2017

    The amount of money stolen in this incident is negligible compared with the other heists we've described, but what happened is still pretty crazy. A couple, said to be in their 60s, were both playing slot machines at Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls. They claim to have fallen unconscious and when they woke up, the man had lost $260. Of this, $200 was cash and the remaining $60 was two lots of $30 slot payouts.

    While the casino itself wasn't the target, the fact that people were chosen to be robbed just goes to show that you always have to be careful. People often carry large amounts of cash with them at casinos, especially high rollers. This makes them valuable targets for thieves looking to make a quick profit.

  • Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, 2007 - Workers Back for More

    Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, 2007

    This casino heist is particularly crazy because the people who attempted the robbery had actually worked there; one was a current employee, and one was a former worker. It happened at Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, California, in 2007. Rolando Ramos, who had installed security cameras, used his know-how and held 10 members of staff hostage using a BB gun. He managed to steal a total of $1.5 million.

    Driving the getaway car was his accomplice Eric Aguilera, who had previously worked at Soboba Casino. Thankfully, the police chase that followed was successful and both Ramos and Aguilera were arrested. It turned out that Ramos's BB gun was a fake; he claimed to have no recollections of the incident due to cocaine consumption, though he and Aguilera received several charges. Their bail was set at $250,000.

  • Stardust in Las Vegas, 1991 - A Family Affair

    Stardust in Las Vegas, 1991

    Going back to Stardust in Las Vegas, another rather crazy casino heist took place here in 1991. What makes it shocking is that it was carried out by people from the same family. Royal Hopper used both of his sons - Jake and Bobby - to help him steal money from Stardust where he worked as a security guard.

    First, he had his son Bobby pretend to be an armed robber. Bobby approached his father and a coworker as they were walking through the casino carrying cash. He made off with $150,000 and was even reported to the authorities by his father so as to make it seem like a genuine robbery.

    Later on, buoyed by the success of the heist, Royal enlisted both his sons for a more ambitious plot. The three used smoke bombs to intercept an armoured van and stole around $1 million from it. Nonetheless, all three of them were soon caught and apprehended.

  • Ritz Casino in London, 2004 - Lasers and Roulette

    Ritz Casino in London, 2004

    Another non-Vegas casino that's been the site of a crazy casino heist is Ritz Casino in London, considered one of the best casinos in the industry. It didn't involve a traditional robbery with guns. Instead, this heist was all about using technology to cheat a game and earn a huge amount of money.

    A group of three people in their early 30s - two men from Serbia and a woman from Hungary - were found to have used laser scanning technology to determine the speed at which a roulette wheel spun. This technology was embedded in their phones. They used it to predict, with a very high degree of accuracy, what the next winning number would be.

    On their first night, they managed to win £100,000 thanks to their laser scanning technology. Pleased with how things went, they returned the following night and in the space of three hours, they won £1.2 million. Their unprecedented success at roulette attracted interest and casino staff believed they were using underhand techniques to guess the winning numbers. After looking through tapes of the three people playing roulette, casino staff determined they were acting suspiciously and they ended up being arrested by the police.

    You would think that using something like mobile-embedded tech to predict a game's outcome would be enough to earn a serious punishment. However, the three roulette players ended up walking away without having to serve time. The judge ruled that when they cheated the casino, they weren't actually breaking any laws. The trio did end up with a lifetime ban from London casinos, which is to be expected.

  • Park Lane Club in London, 2017 - A Fake But Effective Weapon

    Park Lane Club in London, 2017

    The final entry on our Top 10 Casinos Canada list of crazy casino heists is another London-based one. It took place at Park Lane Club and what makes it extraordinary is that someone managed to steal money with a fake weapon.

    An 'armed' robber, wearing a mask, made his way into Park Lane Club, a prestigious members-only casino in Mayfair. He was wearing a boiler suit to protect himself and the weapon he was carrying was fake. Even though it wasn't real, the casino staff believed it was and they handed the robber £35,000 in cash out of fear.

    The police were called but by the time they arrived, the robber was long gone. He fled the scene as soon as he had hold of the money and was never caught. Both his boiler suit and fake gun were later found in a bin close to Hyde Park.


These Top 10 casino heists will undoubtedly go down in history as terrible events. While some of these criminals got away scot-free, most of them were caught and the stolen money was returned. It's difficult to imagine trying something as crazy as robbing a casino. These robberies occurred years ago, and technology advancements have drastically improved since then, making it extremely difficult to attempt such a feat in 2024.

Still, it's rather entertaining to learn about the different ways in which criminals have tried to get the upper hand on land-based casinos.

 Bonnie Gjurovska
Written by
Bonnie Gjurovska Managing Editor

With more than 5 years of experience in the Canadian online gambling industry, Bonnie Gjurovska is particularly passionate about locating the most generous promotions and bonuses, evaluating software providers, testing the latest games, and reviewing online casinos. This makes her the ideal candidate to guide players in Canada in the right direction while overseeing the publication of content on Top10Casinos.ca.

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