2 Men Arrested After $6 Million Wynn Macau Casino Chip Heist

Wynn Macau Casino Robbery

Wynn Resorts has a global footprint, including the Wynn Boston Harbor, which will open near Boston in 2018.

Police have arrested two men, after they stole $6 million dollars in casino chips from the Wynn Macau casino. The incident happened last Tuesday at the casino, which is located on the Cotai Strip, the prime gambling destination that puts Las Vegas Strip gaming revenues to shame.

The majority of Macau’s casino chips are used in secluded VIP-rooms, which are hidden away from the main open floor, making it much more difficult to oversee. These rooms are not run by the casinos themselves, but by third-party organizers called junket operators.

Vitaly Umansky of the investment firm Sanford Bernstein said, “The junkets get a lot of leeway inside the rooms in terms of how money changes hands and how chips change hands. That’s something that may need to get evaluated.”

Suspects Arrested 2 Days Later

According to Macau Judiciary police, a dealer at the Wynn Macau and an accomplice were arrested on Thursday. Authorities are not currently looking for any other suspects that might have been involved with the heist. Both cash and chips allegedly were found on the two suspects. The full reported stolen amount had not yet been recovered.

One media reported that one of the men had a knife in his possession, which he used to threaten co- workers during the robbery, but that appears to have been a simple rumor.

Though no weapon was used, the main man in the heist was said to have specific knowledge of how to get around security, since he had worked in that field for many years. At the time of the robbery, the experienced consultant was working as a croupier.

The plan had one major flaw, says authorities: to be worth anything, the chips would have to be returned to the Wynn Macau casinos to be cashed in. They are worthless in any other casino in Macau, or elsewhere in the world.

Details of the Robbery

Both men arrested were Macanese residents, aged 49 and 70. Macau media outlets reported that the croupier, identified only as Lei, the 49-year old, said he had started gambling as a young teen and had large gambling debts. Lei said that the guard who assisted him was his 70-year old uncle.

Lei admitted to the heist, saying he had bagged the chips around 7:00am, while working in a VIP room that was largely empty. No gamblers were said to be present at the time of the robbery. One other dealer not involved in the crime reportedly witnessed Lei in action.

A police spokeswoman said of Lei’s robbery, “(He) shouted at his female colleague, ordering her to stay quiet and lie on the gaming table. Then he returned to his assigned gaming table and took out HK$47,895,000 worth of chips.”

Lei then stuffed the casino chips into a bag, where he then drove away on a motorcycle. He then later met up with his Uncle, the security guard, whose surname is Ho, at a park in Taipa where he gave him the chips.

Lei has admitted to the heist yet has refused to reveal the stolen chips’ whereabouts. Ho has continued to deny committing any crime.

Wynn Macau Security Procedures

Given the recent incident, Wynn Resorts‘ casinos in Macau – Wynn Palace and Wynn Macau – likely will add security in their gaming rooms following the theft. Though Macau has had major thefts in its junket operations in the past couple of years, big heists in the city’s casinos are rare. This week’s casino robbery has put surrounding casinos on edge.

Andrew Scott, CEO of Inside Asian Gaming magazine, said, “All the properties in Macau are thinking ‘could this happen to us?’ and they will be reviewing their procedures. It’s like a bank robbery — it’s not an everyday event.”

Steve Wynn, founder and CEO of Wynn Resorts, said on FoxNews in the aftermath of the Mandalay Bay shooting that such a mass tragedy never would happen in one of his casinos, because of the high level of security at Wynn Resorts facilities. At the time, Steve Wynn instituted heightened security procedures, including magnetic detectors. No such procedures could screen whether an employee might concoct a scheme with their criminal nephew.

Macau Casino Industry

Macau is a gambling destination that generates a much larger revenue than the well-known Las Vegas. The former Portuguese colony’s revenue from popular casino games such as baccarat and blackjack generate about five times more than the Vegas Strip.

Gambling in Macau brought in over $33 billion last year. That was a 20% increase from the previous year, a big turnaround after a multi-losing streak for Macau. Revenues began to plummet in 2014 after Chinese President Xi Jinping placed a crackdown on corruption which deterred the cities most frequented visitors from mainland China from coming and spending big in Macau’s VIP rooms.