Former MGM Grand Boss Sibella Avoids Jail In Illegal Betting Case

Erik Gibbs

The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas at night

Scott Sibella, the former president of MGM Grand and Resorts World Las Vegas, got off with minimal punishment for his involvement in the Wayne Nix illegal betting case. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee sentenced him to one year of probation and a fine of $9,500.

The case centered around the violation of federal anti-money laundering laws, specifically the failure to file a suspicious activity report (SAR) at MGM Resorts in 2017. Sibella admitted to deliberately avoiding learning how Nix paid his casino markers and did not file any SARs to authorities, despite being aware of Nix’s illegal bookmaking activities. 

The legal repercussions for Sibella’s actions included the aforementioned probation and fine, as well as a $100 special assessment and 200 hours of community service. The terms of his probation require these obligations to be fulfilled within specific timeframes. Additionally, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has filed a complaint against Sibella, seeking to revoke his gaming license and levy a fine for his ties to Nix.

Sibella’s sentence is significantly below what he could have received. He was initially looking at the possibility of up to five years in prison, as well as a fine of as much as $250,000.

Sibella, through his lawyers, released a statement after his sentencing on Wednesday. He admitted fault for his actions and insisted he didn’t profit in any way from the crime.

Sibella was a major Vegas power player

Sibella’s roles at MGM Grand and Resorts World Las Vegas were significant, as he served as the president of both properties during different periods. His tenure at MGM Grand was between August 2017 and February 2019, a time during which the illegal activities of Nix were taking place. 

After leaving MGM Grand, Sibella became the president of Resorts World Las Vegas, where he guided the resort through its construction and opening in 2021. However, he was ousted from his position following revelations of his involvement in the Nix case.

On at least one occasion, Nix paid off a marker in cash. Sibella previously admitted that, while at MGM Grand, he received $120,000 from him but didn’t file the required SAR.

The MGM Grand and The Cosmopolitan, both operated by MGM Resorts, have also agreed to a nearly $7.5 million settlement to resolve a federal money laundering probe tied to the case. This settlement includes an external review and an enhancement of their compliance programs to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Turning a blind eye

Nix, a former minor league baseball pitcher, operated an illegal gambling business for two decades. He took sports bets from major league players and their associates, including former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. 

I didn’t want to know because of my position. I stay out of it. If we know, we can’t allow them to gamble. I didn’t ask, I didn’t want to know I guess because [Nix] wasn’t doing anything to cheat the casino. 

‚ÄĒ Scott Sibella

The case against Nix, who allegedly took in millions of dollars in bets through a Costa Rica-based website, Sand Island Sports, resulted in him agreeing to plead guilty to operating an illegal gambling business and failing to report income. He faces up to eight years in prison and has agreed to pay back taxes and interest of $1.25 million. He also has to forfeit $1.3 million seized from bank accounts. 

Nix’s illegal betting operation at MGM properties¬†was facilitated¬†by Sibella, who hosted him at events and allegedly provided complimentary benefits such as meals, rooms, and golf trips.¬†Court documents¬†revealed that Sibella knew of Nix’s involvement in illegal bookmaking but chose to¬†ignore it.