In one of the most outrageous casino robberies of the 1990s, Heather Tallchief and Roberto Solis decided that clowning around the gaming floor of Circus Circus Casino in Las Vegas wasn't quite thrilling enough and opted to up the ante by making off with $2.5 million. Tallchief, who was working as an armoured truck driver at the time, pulled off what amounted to be the ultimate inside job with her accomplice. Using an armoured truck to snatch their loot, the pair managed to evade casino security and US authorities before fleeing to the Cayman Islands to live out the rest of their days in paradise. However, the story didn't have a happy ending for Tallchief as Solis proved that there really is no honour among thieves by taking off with the money and leaving her to face the music some 12 years after the pair's outrageous heist.
In an even more peculiar twist, Tallchief actually turned herself in twelve years later by surrendering at a federal courthouse in 2005 to face charges of fraud, making false statements to receive a passport, conspiracy, and bank larceny. While Solis is still at large, he did previously spend 17 years in prison for killing a security guard.
Anyone who's watched the Ocean's Eleven movies will be familiar with thieves targeting the Bellagio. In one particular story that must have been left on the cutting room floor, Jose Vigoa, Luis Suarez, and Oscar Sanchez were easily apprehended for robbing $160,000 in cash from the famous Vegas casino in 2000. The reason for their spectacular failure? Vigoa – already a known bank robber at the time – forgot to put on his mask when jumping the cashier's desk and was subsequently caught on closed circuit television. Unfortunately, the heist gave way to full-fledged shootout that killed two guards.
After being snared by authorities, he soon ratted on his accomplices and the trio were given prison sentences and forced to pay $150,000 in restitution to the casino. Vigoa is currently serving multiple life sentences. Sometimes life just doesn't pan out like in the movies.
Bored with his day-to-day life as a surveillance technician at California's Sobaba Casino, Rolando Luda Ramos decided to rob his employers blind by taking $1.5 million from the venue's safe in 2007. After disabling the security cameras, which he previously installed, Ramos held up ten of his fellow workmates at gunpoint. Dressed in his casino uniform, Ramos was able to gain access to the safe and escape the casino without further incident, where he was aided by Eric Alan Aguilera, who acted as his getaway driver. Although the pair did initially manage to evade authorities, the pair were apprehended two days later at a hotel beside the Los Angeles airport.
Although the casino was able to recover most of the stolen cash, Ramos wasn't so lucky. He wasn't just charged with strong arm robbery, but also kidnapping, battery, and false imprisonment. In interviews, Ramos claimed he committed the crime while being high on a combination of cocaine and adrenaline. While that might be laughable, his 12-year prison sentence is no joke.
Of course, it would be remiss of us to tell you all these horror stories from the bricks and mortar world without including one of the most famous online poker scandals to have ever occurred. The scandal in question – or, indeed, scandals – related to super user accounts on Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet that enabled the user to see the private hole cards of every player around the table. Effectively, this provided the user with a virtual “God mode” where they could call bluffs with 100% accuracy and frequently buy the pot off opponents when they knew they'd missed the board.
Unfortunately, the users of these accounts got too greedy and their impossible win rates did not go unnoticed by the poker community, who compiled evidence of their cheating and passed it on to the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Though Absolute Poker initially blamed the rogue accounts on disgruntled employees, a more thorough investigation indicated the company was complicit with the scandal and actively sought to cover for the super users by changing their account names. Needless to say, neither Absolute Poker nor Ultimate Bet managed to repair their reputations and both sites now cease to operate.
While anyone reading the above quartet of scandals may now be wondering to themselves who on earth would want to continue gambling, the good news is that each of these unfortunate incidents helped shape casino security and ensured that your money is now safer than ever. It is important to note that in all of the cases mentioned above, the perpetrators were ultimately caught. In the case of the super user poker scandal, which was the only incident in which players were affected by cheating, those affected by the rogue accounts were later compensated.
The upshot of rare stories like these is that security has now tightened to a point where it's almost impossible to commit a crime. There is far more regulation, certification, and accountability than ever before, especially if you play online. When you visit a casino online, every transaction is monitored, player funds are specifically separated from company funds and expert teams of fraud analysts pore over data to ensure everything is above board. These days, your money is safer than ever – and whether you're playing online or live, you can rest assured that both you and your finances will be in perfectly good hands. Nonetheless, these stories serve as entertainment rather than as words of caution.