The Most Famous Casino Heists in History

casino heists

Casinos have always been a hotbed of excitement, risk, and temptation. While most people flock to these establishments to try their luck at the tables or slots, some have different, more nefarious intentions in mind. Over the years, there have been several daring heists that have made headlines and captured the public’s imagination. These audacious attempts to outsmart the house and make off with millions are the stuff of legends. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the most famous casino heists in history, showcasing the cunning plans and bold execution that left both casinos and law enforcement baffled.

The Stardust Heist – 1992

Our journey through the annals of casino heists begins with the infamous Stardust Casino heist of 1992. Located in Las Vegas, the Stardust was a mecca for gamblers, glittering with the promise of riches. However, it became the target of a cunning group of criminals led by Bill Brennan, a former Stardust employee. Brennan, who worked as a cashier at the casino, had insider knowledge of its operations.

The heist took place on September 22, 1992. Brennan walked out of the casino with $507,000 in cash and casino chips. He had stashed the loot in a bag and calmly walked out of the establishment as if he were heading home after a day at work. What made this heist particularly audacious was the fact that Brennan had no escape plan. He simply disappeared into thin air.

Despite a nationwide manhunt, Bill Brennan was never found, and his whereabouts remain unknown to this day. The Stardust Casino heist serves as a reminder that sometimes, the most daring criminals can simply vanish into the shadows, leaving law enforcement and casino owners scratching their heads.

The Bellagio Bandit – 2000

The Bellagio Hotel and Casino, another Las Vegas icon, was the scene of a spectacular heist in 2000. The heist was orchestrated by Anthony Carleo, who earned the moniker “The Bellagio Bandit” for his audacious robbery. Carleo was not your typical casino thief; he was the son of a Las Vegas Municipal Court judge.

On December 14, 2010, Carleo stormed into the Bellagio wearing a motorcycle helmet and armed with a pistol. He quickly grabbed $1.5 million worth of chips from the craps tables and fled on his motorcycle. What made this heist even more intriguing was that Carleo returned to the Bellagio just a few weeks later and pulled off another heist. This time he made away with an additional $1 million in chips.

However, Carleo’s luck ran out when he tried to sell the stolen chips online. He believed that their distinctive design would make them difficult to cash without arousing suspicion. Undercover police officers posed as buyers, leading to Carleo’s arrest. He was sentenced to 9 to 27 years in prison and became a cautionary tale of how even the most audacious heists can come crashing down when criminals get greedy.

The Crown Casino Heist – 2013

Melbourne, Australia, is known for its stunning Crown Casino, a high-end establishment attracting both locals and tourists. In 2013, a group of thieves targeted this prestigious casino and made off with a whopping AUD 32 million (approximately USD 23 million at the time).

The heist involved an inside man, a VIP services manager named Jainson “Jesse” Dela Cruz, who used his position to facilitate the crime. Dela Cruz swapped out a security camera’s hard drive to disable the surveillance system, allowing the criminals to operate without being recorded. They then entered the casino’s high-roller room and made away with millions in chips.

However, what made this heist even more incredible was that the thieves were able to escape with their loot without any immediate consequences. It took several weeks for authorities to catch up with them. In the end, some of the gang members were arrested and sentenced to prison. Still, a substantial amount of the stolen money and chips remained unrecovered.

The Ritz Casino Heist – 2013

In a case that feels straight out of a Hollywood movie, a team of criminals orchestrated a daring heist at the Ritz Casino in London in 2013. The gang, led by a Serbian man named Ivan Gudalovic, used an electronic device to manipulate the casino’s roulette wheel.

The device, known as a “top-hatting” device, allowed the gang to predict where the roulette ball would land with remarkable accuracy. Over the course of three days, they raked in £1.3 million (approximately USD 1.6 million at the time) in winnings. What’s more astonishing is that they managed to escape without arousing suspicion from casino staff.

However, the Ritz Casino heist had a twist. The gang was eventually caught when they attempted to pull off the same scheme at other casinos in London, leading to their arrest and prosecution. While they initially managed to outsmart the Ritz, their greed ultimately led to their downfall.

The Banco Central Heist – 2005

Our list wouldn’t be complete without a heist that didn’t involve a casino but rather a central bank. In 2005, a group of thieves in Fortaleza, Brazil, pulled off one of the most audacious heists in history, targeting the Banco Central.

The gang, led by Antonio Jussivan Alves dos Reis, rented a commercial property located above the bank. Over the course of three months, they dug an 80-meter tunnel from the property to the bank’s vault. The tunnel was equipped with lighting and ventilation systems, making it look like a professional operation.

On the night of August 6, 2005, the gang broke into the bank. They made away with approximately R$160 million (approximately USD 70 million at the time). It was a meticulously planned and executed heist that left investigators in awe.

However, the thieves’ extravagant spending and the subsequent investigation led to their downfall. Over 20 gang members were arrested, and most of the stolen money was recovered. The Banco Central Heist serves as a reminder that even the most elaborate heists can be unraveled when criminals leave a trail of conspicuous spending.


Casino heists have long been a source of fascination for the public, with their daring plans and audacious execution. From the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas to the Ritz Casino in London, these famous heists have left an indelible mark on history. While some criminals managed to evade capture, others were brought to justice through their own greed and mistakes.

These stories of high-stakes thefts serve as a testament to the ingenuity and audacity of criminals. Also, the dedication of law enforcement agencies determined to bring them to justice. They remind us that while casinos may be places of chance, some individuals will stop at nothing to stack the odds in their favor. Even if it means crossing the line into criminality.