Nevada Gaming Control Board Files Complaint Against Scott Sibella After Commission Joins Federal Probe

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) is displeased with Scott Sibella following his guilty plea to federal charges and has asked the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) to impose fines and licensing action. That may impede Sibella’s plans to return to work in the industry, which he announced in January after admitting to violating the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). 

Sibella’s sentencing hearing on the federal charges is set for next week, on May 8. He could receive up to five years in prison or a $250,000 fine. 

The NGCB had investigated claims of Sibella’s misbehavior as President of Resorts World Las Vegas (RWLV). However, it cleared him of wrongdoing in June 2023. Even so, RWLV dismissed him from the position three months later, citing unspecified violations of company policy.

Around the same time, rumors about a federal investigation into Sibella began to swirl. These were later borne out. However, the only charges so far relate to earlier events during his time at the MGM Grand from 2010 to 2019.

As of last week, the NGC has begun participating in the federal probe, per the Nevada Current.

Now, the NGCB has asked the NGC to take direct action against him. The list of rules it claims he violated includes damaging the reputation of the state and its gaming industry. Certainly, the NGCB itself has received its fair share of criticism for perceived failures in its investigation. Add to this the similar—though separate—issue of illegal betting by MLB star Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. The timing of that scandal coming to light couldn’t have been any worse.

Nevada Regulators No Longer Monitor Transactions

The NGCB begins its summary of events by clarifying that Sibella pleaded guilty to crimes outside its purview. Until 2007, Nevada regulators monitored financial transactions related to gaming in the state. However, as of July 1 that year, they relinquished such responsibilities to FinCEN, the federal Treasury’s enforcement division.

Even so, the regulators are responsible for ensuring that licensees conduct themselves appropriately and don’t hurt the industry. The NGCB’s complaint focuses as much on the reputational damage wrought by Sibella’s guilty plea as the acts themselves.

Although Nevada no longer directly regulates cash transactions, suspicious activity reporting, and anti-money laundering programs, when federal entities find violations related to these activities by a licensee or any person holding a Nevada gaming approval, it reflects or tends to reflect poorly on the reputation of gaming in the State of Nevada and/or acts as a detriment to the development of the gaming industry and/or reflects or tends to reflect discredit upon the State of Nevada or the gaming industry.

The complaint alleges that Sibella violated four of the state’s regulatory rules. Abridged versions of these are as follows:

  1. Failure to exercise discretion to prevent incidents that might reflect poorly on Nevada or impede industry development.
  2. Catering to or associating with “persons of notorious or unsavory reputation.”
  3. Failure to comply with all federal, state, and local laws.
  4. Failure to conduct gaming operations in accordance with proper standards of custom, decorum, and decency.

‘Persons of Notorious or Unsavory Reputation’

Most of the accusations that have been leveled at Sibella involve the sort of unsavory characters mentioned in the regulations.

His guilty plea was more specific, relating to a failure to report suspicious transactions by Wayne Nix. By his own admission, Sibella knew Nix to be an illegal bookmaker even while courting him as a VIP customer.

An ongoing lawsuit by activist gambler Robert Cipriani lists several similar figures, including Brandon Sattler and Robert Alexander. However, his focus has been on more recent goings-on at RWLV, not the events at the MGM Grand.

Sattler had a falling-out with Sibella and made claims about his behavior that sparked the original NGC investigation.

Mizuhara’s alleged bookie, Mathew Bowyer, is yet another such figure. Although not directly connected to the others or Sibella, Bowyer was allegedly active at RWLV during Sibella’s tenure there.

Potential Fines and Licensing Action

It remains to be seen if Sibella will receive any prison time for his federal conviction. At a minimum, he will likely receive a fine and perhaps further penalties from the Nevada regulators.

The NGCB hasn’t requested a particular amount but asks the NGC to impose “a monetary sum pursuant to [regulatory parameters] for each separate violation of the provisions of the Nevada Gaming Control Act or the Regulations of the Commission.”

It also asks that the NGC “take action” against Sibella’s license and findings of suitability. That could mean limitations or conditions, a license suspension, or permanent revocation. 

At the time of his guilty plea, Sibella announced that he hoped to continue working in the gambling industry. How likely that is may depend on the severity of whatever actions the NGC chooses to take against him. Although losing his license in Nevada—hypothetically speaking—wouldn’t prevent him from seeking one in other states, it would undoubtedly be a topic of discussion in any such applications.

About the Author

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is an online gambling industry analyst with nearly ten years of experience. He currently serves as Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus.com, part of the Catena Media Network. Other gambling news sites he has contributed to include PlayUSA and Online Poker Report, and his writing has been cited in The Atlantic.
Back To Top

Get connected with us on Social Media