Bookmakers Tied to Ohtani, Sibella Scandals Operated Separately Says Confidential Source

Reports directly linking the bookmaking rings in the Shohei Ohtani and Scott Sibella scandals were premature, according to information received by Bonus on Friday from a source, speaking on condition of anonymity. Despite a number of similarities between the two stories—including connections to Las Vegas casinos during Sibella’s tenure—bookmakers Wayne Nix and Mathew Bowyer did not operate as part of the same ring, per our source.

Confidentially, the source told Bonus last week they were unaware if Nix and Bowyer even knew one another. Nix is the convicted bookmaker at the center of Sibella’s downfall. Bowyer is the alleged California-based bookie who received transfers from Ohtani’s account.

Given how relationships overlap in Vegas and the gambling industry more broadly, Nix and Bowyer likely crossed paths somehow. However, our source maintained that the illegal bookmaking rings operated separately, contrary to some reporting. The confusion may stem from the fact that both Nix and Bowyer have been the subjects of federal investigations.

The separation between the two bookmakers’ businesses has since been corroborated in a deep dive into Bowyer’s history by the Washington Post.

That said, there are indirect connections between the two. Links to casinos operating under Sibella’s direction are one of these.

Sibella has pleaded guilty to permitting Nix to gamble at MGM Grand while still the casino’s president, despite knowing of the bookmaker’s illegal activities. Eventually, this invited federal interest and prompted his ousting from Resorts World Las Vegas (RWLV), where he’d taken over as president in 2019.

Similarly, Bowyer allegedly gambled at Resorts World under Sibella’s watch until a few weeks after his abrupt departure last summer,

However, the stories that are still developing share another commonality: activist gambler RJ Cipriani.

Cipriani, an outspoken gambler with an axe to grind, has leveled public allegations against Sibella for years. Bowyer, it seems, came to his attention last summer, while his posts about Nix began somewhat earlier.

Investigations Overlap, Bookmakers Do Not

Confusion surrounding the supposed bookmaking connection appears related to the federal investigations into Nix and Bowyer. Nix pleaded guilty to operating an illegal gambling business and filing a false tax return in 2022. Initially scheduled for March 6, he now faces sentencing later this fall.

Cipriani, aka Robin Hood 702, posted online in February that the new sentencing date would likely mean new allegations were coming—weeks before the Ohtani controversy dropped.

The Nix investigation had already netted several meaty fish, including former Dodgers player Yasiel Puig, Nix business partner Edon Kagasoff, and former MGM and RWLV big-wig Sibella. Resorts World fired Sibella in September, a few weeks after the Nevada Current reported federal investigators were looking into Vegas casinos and Sibella specifically.

Notably, Sibella pled guilty in January to violating the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) while at MGM. Despite awareness of his illegal bookmaking activities, Sibella admitted he failed to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) on Nix. His sentencing will take place on May 8 in Los Angeles.

Bowyer, whose home was raided by federal agents last October, is currently under investigation by the same federal agents. As yet, he faces no charges. However, that could change with the increased scrutiny following the reveal of the Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara sports betting bombshell.

Indeed, while Bowyer’s activities likely became known as the Nix investigation widened, Cipriani’s relentless efforts could have played a role.

Indeed, many allegations he leveled in court and online preceded federal involvement, particularly in Sibella’s case. Notably, the Post piece notes that the Sibella investigation turned attention Bowyer’s way.

Federal Involvement Followed Public Allegations

Before the feds became interested in Sibella, Cipriani raised the alarm over RWLV’s alleged inclination to welcome known criminals to its gaming floor.

In December 2021, Cipriani’s first tweet claiming that the FBI had subpoenaed Resorts World over “dirty players” hit his timeline. Scott Sibella, he said, knew about the infractions but didn’t care. He also wondered if KT Lim, chairman of Genting Group, Resorts World’s owner, knew of the goings on.

Since then, many similar posts on Twitter, now X, have followed.

Cipriani has claimed he tried to warn RWLV execs, including Sibella, about bad actors before taking his complaints to law enforcement. After officials charged Cipriani with robbery and cheating over an incident at Resorts World, Cipriani launched a lawsuit against Sibella and RWLV, alleging they retaliated against him rather than address the criminal element. The legal brief includes several examples of Cipriani attempting to alert those in power to the criminals on the floor.

Significantly, prosecutors dropped larceny and reduced the cheating charge to disorderly conduct.

It’s also important to note that the feds investigated Sibella only in the context of MGM, not Resorts World. Additionally, Sibella only pled to happenings at MGM. Further, Nevada regulators cleared him of wrongdoing at RWLV in February 2023. However, his subsequent dismissal and guilty plea have raised questions about that investigation and ruling.

In Bowyer’s case, Cipriani posted once about him in late July before the October raid on his house.

After the raid, posts questioning how Sibella and Resorts World allowed Bowyer and his allegedly criminal associates to gamble became more frequent. Reports corroborated by Bowyer’s lawyer, Diane Bass, have now identified Bowyer as the bookmaker who took illegal bets from Mizuhara, Ohtani’s since-fired translator.

Cipriani’s Crystal Ball

This is not the first time Cipriani’s had a role in a criminal investigation.

Nearly a decade ago, he was an informant in a case that resulted in the dismantling of a drug ring linked to former USC footballer Owen Hanson. That investigation, which reportedly netted over 1000 arrests, is the basis for an upcoming TV show based on Cipriani’s experiences.

Notably, the fallout from the Hanson case even crossed the northern border, leading Cipriani to play a critical role in the downfall of former Canadian intelligence head Cameron Ortis. Canadian courts found Ortis guilty of violating Canada’s Security of Information Act (SIA) last November. In February, he received 14 years.

Hanson, initially sentenced to 21 years in 2017, has just been released from prison. After learning of Hanson’s impending release (set for June), Cipriani reportedly offered him a free apartment close to his family for six months. It’s not known if Hanson responded.

In addition to Sibella and Bowyer, Cipriani has identified several others—executives and shady characters who remain nameless here—on his social media posts.

Given how Cipriani’s attention has worked out for folks in the past, it will be interesting to see what’s next from the feds.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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