Scott Sibella: Lawsuit, Resorts World Dismissal May Be Tip of the Iceberg
Resorts World Las Vegas and its former President Scott Sibella are facing a federal lawsuit from a gambler who says they retaliated against him for blowing the whistle about criminals being allowed to gamble at the property. Meanwhile, Sibella is reportedly under federal investigation. The nature of that investigation is still a matter of rumor and anonymous leaks. However, Robert Cipriani’s legal complaint contains details that hint at what might be coming.
Sibella’s troubles began with a Nevada regulatory investigation. This came out of claims from another gambler, Brandon Sattler, who had been banned from Resorts World. The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) found no evidence of wrongdoing by Sibella. For a time, that looked like it might be the end of it.
However, Resorts World dismissed Sibella in September with only the vague statement that he had “violated company policies.” This came shortly after the Nevada Current published leaked information about the federal investigation.
Sibella himself seems to have confirmed that bigger things are on the way. He told the Current that the full story behind his dismissal will come out soon.
The number of layers to the story makes it reminiscent of Steve Wynn’s fall from grace. Four years later, the legal aftershocks of that still haven’t finished making their way through the courts. But whereas Wynn was accused of sexual misconduct, Sibella’s scandal centers on who he allowed to gamble at properties he was overseeing and what he knew about them.
Cipriani Claims He Was Targetted as a Whistleblower
Most of the accusations Cipriani directs at Sibella are merely background for his actual complaint, which is more personal in scope. In a nutshell, he alleges that he told Resorts World staff that the casino’s guests included several known criminals but that the casino retaliated against him instead of dealing with the issue.
Notably, these included the aforementioned Brandon Sattler. Also mentioned are convicted fraudster Robert Alexander, convicted illegal bookmaker David Stroj, and Edwin Ting, who Cipriani describes as a “known Triad and money launderer.”
According to Cipriani’s complaint, Resorts World staff failed to act on that information. Then, Alexander allegedly began stalking and harassing Cipriani at the casino.
Things came to a head when Cipriani grabbed Alexander’s mobile phone and presented it to Resorts World security. He says he was attempting to prove that Alexander had been recording video of him gambling in violation of the casino’s policies. Instead, casino staff allegedly called the police and had Cipriani charged with theft for taking the phone.
Those charges were dropped about six months later. However, Resorts World reported Cipriani to the NGCB for allegedly changing a bet during a hand of blackjack.
By Cipriani’s account of things, Sibella had ordered his security staff to find any pretext to have him banned and charged as a cheater. He claims that Resorts World’s Surveillance Operations Manager, Joseph Tatonetti, resigned from his position rather than comply with that order. Per the complaint, that was 30 days before the casino ultimately leveled its accusation at Cipriani.
Cipriani seeks damages related to the tangible and emotional impacts of the criminal charges and his ban. He says he’s now barred from casinos across the country due to the cheating accusation.
Tatonetti May Become an Important Figure
Much of Cipriani’s case hangs on a series of text message exchanges between himself and Tatonetti. He appended a record of these to the complaint.
Cipriani says the texts are evidence that Resorts World was aware of its problematic patrons but that Sibella wouldn’t allow any action to be taken against them.
If genuine, the texts appear to show a sympathetic, friendly relationship between the two, with Tatonetti feeling powerless to act on Sibella’s information because it would jeopardize his job.
In one of these alleged exchanges, Cipriani writes:
I can’t believe Eddie Ting got through compliance and is playing at RW. A fucking Triad, money launderer and convicted felon! Other than that how are you
The recipient, allegedly Tatonetti, responds:
Me either. The Cage Director is really pissed about it as well. I’m ok, hanging in there.
Tatonetti’s name may come up again if and when the federal investigation officially comes to light. At one point in the alleged exchanges, he tells Cipriani that he “can confirm” that the FBI is investigating Sattler. Later, regarding Alexander, Cipriani says he “can’t believe” federal agents haven’t yet subpoenaed Tatonetti.
Tatonetti responds: “Maybe they have,” followed by a grinning cowboy emoji.
Did the Nevada Investigation Fully Clear Sibella?
The defense team has indicated that it feels the results of the NGCB investigation will be borne out in Cipriani’s lawsuit. In a widely reported statement, attorney Colby Williams said:
While we are still reviewing Mr. Cipriani’s complaint, it appears to be the latest rehashing of allegations against Resorts World and Mr. Sibella that have been thoroughly investigated and determined to be baseless by Nevada gaming authorities and others. Now that Mr. Cipriani has chosen to pursue these matters in federal court, we look forward to establishing their lack of merit in that forum as well.
The overlap between the two cases is obvious enough. After all, Sattler is among the patrons Cipriani says he tried to bring to Resorts World’s attention.
However, the Nevada investigation centered primarily on Sattler’s efforts to connect Sibella to Stroj. Although Cipriani’s suit mentions Stroj, some of the other key figures didn’t come up in Sattler’s version of things. The suit also differs because it documents Cipriani’s claimed interactions with Resorts World staff, particularly Tatonetti.
Meanwhile, if the reports are correct, the scope of the federal investigation may be larger still, encompassing events that predate Sibella’s time at Resorts World, going back to his earlier position at the MGM Grand and yet another confessed lawbreaker, Wayne Nix.
While the outcome of the suit and reported investigation are still very much in the air, taken together, they have the makings of a story that could take considerable time to play out.
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