The greatest casino heists in history

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Did you know that many of the most popular Hollywood movies are based on real life events?  From Ocean's Eleven to 21 Blackjack, many screen writers look to modern day casino robberies for inspiration and a story line.

Unlike the movies many of the crooks do not manage to get away so easily or can afford the elaborate spy gear.

However, they do share one thing in common a brazen, daring and fearless attitude which makes them so memorable.

We have rounded up the  greatest casino heists in the USA and around the world including the most recent casino heists.

The greatest heists in the USA

The USA is world renowned for its casinos and gambling strips so it's no surprise that some of the most creative and brazen heists have occurred in the States.

Check out the top heists that made our list below:

The Bill Brennan disappearance

stardust casinoBill Brennan was a cashier at the Stardust Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 1992 when he decided to pull off one of the greatest casino robberies of all time.

He had been a long term employee of the casino which meant that nobody took notice when one day he walked out the front with a bag containing $500,000 worth of stolen cash and chips.

To this day, Brennan has never been captured. He is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List and featured on the TV show America’s Most Wanted, but he’s never been caught.

One of the greatest and the most elegant  robberies of all time because of its simplicity.

Jose Vigoa and the Bellagio

Jose Vigoa

In 2000, Jose Vigoa, Luis Suarez and Oscar Sanchez robbed the Bellagio for over $160,000.

Two of the men jumped over the cashier cage counter and stole about $160,000 in cash and casino chips, while the third  stood as lookout.

It might have been the perfect crime except that Vigoa managed to get caught on video without his mask and was already a known bank robber.

The three men were sentenced to prison and ordered to pay more than $150,000 in restitution.

The robbery prompted MGM Resorts to install bars around each of its Strip cashier cages.

This classic heist story inspired the story behind Ocean's Eleven 3.

Did you know many of these casino robberies inspired some of the greatest casino movies? Find a list of some of the best movies in the genre here.

Heather Tallchief and Roberto Solis

Heather TallchiefHeather Tallchief was a driver for Loomis Armor Inc. One day while the car was transferring money to the Circus Circus casino in Las Vegas, Tallchief decided to drive off with the money instead.

The armored car had $2.5 million inside which disappeared just like Ms Tallchief.

Finally, after 12 years on the run, she turned herself in and is currently serving 5 years in jail after blaming her manipulative boyfriend, Roberto Solis, for the planning of the job.

Solis took all the money and left Tallchief shortly after fleeing to the Netherlands and has never been caught.

She is one of the few women to have appeared on the F.B.I. Most Wanted List.

The Biker Bandit

Biker Bandit chips In December 2010, Anthony Carleo walked in to the Bellagio in Las Vegas,wearing a motorcycle helmet and left with $1.5 million worth of chips.

However, as casinos have tracking devices on the chips, he could not cash them in. Instead he tried to sell the chips online and stupidly bragged about the robbery to his friends.

His downfall came when he emailed a photo of two $25,000 Bellagio chips on top of a note signed “Biker Bandit” to a potential buyer, which was in fact an undercover cop.

Carleo was sentanced to serve between 9 to 27 years in prison for the Bellagio robbery and an earlier heist he committed at the Suncoast Casino.

Check out the security footage from the robbery below!

The MIT Blackjack team

The MIT Blackjack Team pulled off one of most successful card-counting heists in history.

The group of math geniuses used advanced card counting techniques and  technical strategies to beat casino blackjack dealers all around the world.

The team played for over two decades and raked in millions of dollars in winnings, the exact amount is still unknown.

The story inspired many books and movies and other teams of intellects to try their hand at blackjack.

A hi-tech heist

Roulette_-_detailThis is Probably one of the most hi-tech robberies for its time.

In the 1970's two physics students developed a small electronic device that interfered with the roulette wheel. The device fit into the shoes of the students and could read the movement of the wheel.

One student would play while the other would wear the shoe and communicate the information through a series of small shocks.

The two continued the hoax for some months but were were eventually caught and charged.

The greatest casino heists in London

London  also had its fair share of casino heists. Below are two of the most memorable robberies at London casinos.

Lasers at the Ritz Casino

The Ritz Casino LondonIn 2004, a group of three people armed with nothing more than lasers entered the Ritz Casino in London and made off with £1.2 million at the roulette table.

The team used the lasers to estimate the speed of the roulette wheel and then figure out the most likely numbers for the ball to land.

Probably the most interesting part of roulette scheme was that when the team was caught the judge ruled in their favour and they were allowed go free £1.2 million richer!

Poker with mini cameras

Another casino heist in London involved some spy equipment.

Three Londoners hit up six casinos and made at least £200,000 by using a miniature camera. The camera was placed up the sleeve of one of the crooks film the cards as they were dealt and then the film was transferred to the others in a van outside.

The film was watched in slow motion to determine who had what card, and then the information was delivered by tiny earpiece to the player inside the casino, who used the information to win the money.

However, unlike the laser scam above these men were caught and charged.

The most recent heists

Regardless of the tightening of security procedures in casinos today, it is still manageable to hold up even the most famous casinos. The robberies below are two of the greatest casino heists of recent times.

Casino hold up in South Afraica

In late 2013, 15 men were arrested after they tried to rob Emperors Palace Casino in Johannesburg. In fact,  the police were tipped off about the armed robbery from someone inside the casino.

It is unknown how much money the crooks tried to take but the incident resulting in a huge shoot off between the police and the robbers inside.

Check out the footage from the heist below!


One of the largest casino heists in history occurred in early 2014. The Crown hotel and casino surveillance system was infiltrated in an “Ocean's Eleven” style heist, which resulted in the crooks leaving with $32 million.

The thief collaborated with a well known overseas gambler, who played a VIP card game while the others fed him tips on how and when to bet. The gambler left with the astonishing $32 million after just eight hands.

Casino officials after suspecting something was wrong discovered the crime and the high roller received a life time ban from the casino and had to return the money.

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