Thief Swipes $19K in Chips from Las Vegas Casino Craps Table

El Cortez chip robbery 2022 thief
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:

At 6:49 a.m. on Sep. 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, whose Vital Vegas blog broke the story yesterday.

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 was able to obtain an exclusive surveillance photo of what he called the “bold and utterly moronic move.”

Why He Will Get Caught

As Roeben pointed out, surveillance footage will insure that the thief can never enter not only El Cortez again, but 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, what they do collaborate on  is 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, whenever a non-whale is observed attempting to cash out a large amount of chips they were not observed winning at the casino, red flags are immediately raised. The same goes for any person unknown to the casino making multiple trips to the cage to cash in small chip amounts.


Unfortunately, El Cortez is not one of the many modern casinos that builds radio frequency identification (RFID) tags into their chips. This may be why the thief chose the casino to hit.

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 a man riding a motorcycle into the casino. It was RFID technology that 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 El Cortez to virtually insure 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.

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