Gambler ups the ante with federal lawsuit against Resorts World Las Vegas and its ex-head Sibella

October 10, 2023 7:57 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports
October 10, 2023 7:57 PM
  • John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports

A gambler’s protracted battle with Resorts World Las Vegas reached a new level Monday with a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court that accuses the Strip casino-resort company and its former president of negligence and the infliction of emotional distress for failing to prevent known fraudsters and persons convicted of gambling-related crimes from playing in the casino.

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The lawsuit filed by attorneys Marshall Cole and David Merrill on behalf of California resident Robert J. Cipriani, who goes by the moniker “Robin Hood 702” on social media, comes following the ouster of Resorts World Las Vegas President Scott Sibella for a violation of company policy amid press reports of an ongoing investigation by IRS Criminal Investigations and U.S. Homeland Security agents of Las Vegas hotels, including Resorts World. A subpoena associated with the investigation calls on the casino-hotel to turn over communications between resort officials and former casino customers.

The lawsuit describes Cipriani as an “avid gambler, activist, and prolific philanthropist who regularly donates substantial monies to educational, environmental, and poverty alleviating charitable causes, among others.” Cipriani made news in 2022 when he was charged with theft and cheating at gambling at Resorts World following a November 2021 dispute in the casino with convicted Kizzang fraudster and gambler Robert Alexander. The charges were later reduced to misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

Cipriani also exposed that convicted illegal bookmaker David Stroj was gambling at the casino. Stroj, through a family member, held an ownership stake in the since-shuttered Tacos El Cabron fast-food restaurant on the property. In addition, Cipriani notified management that it was continuing to allow Brandon Sattler, a felon accused in a $13 million bankruptcy-fraud scheme, to gamble at the casino.

For his part, Cipriani has spent recent months telegraphing his intention to keep going after Resorts World management with numerous posts on social media critical of the company’s regulatory practices. He’s even called out Resorts World senior officials, including parent company Genting Group Chairman K.T. Lim, for failing to do due diligence in the matter, even after Sibella was terminated from the company and the gamblers were banned.

Sibella was cleared of regulatory wrongdoing in February after a year-long Gaming Control Board investigation. That hasn’t slowed Cipriani’s criticism.

On Monday, he posted on the social media site X (formerly Twitter), “FEDERAL LAWSUIT filed today against Resorts World Las Vegas and Scott Sibella, proving everything I said in an email to KT Lim 2 years ago was all true. But KT Lim did nothing! I can’t wait to expose all these dirty, corrupt, casino executives!”

Sibella’s attorney J. Colby Williams offered a swift response to the lawsuit in a statement.

“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.”

Per the lawsuit: “Mr. Cipriani believes that criminals should not be permitted to gamble stolen and ill-gotten monies in Las Vegas casinos, and further believes that casinos should comply with their Anti-Money Laundering and due-diligence obligations. Accordingly, when Mr. Cipriani becomes aware that someone is betting misappropriated funds, he does what is right and notifies the appropriate authorities and persons responsible for ensuring clean gambling, the preservation of stolen funds, and the safety of casino patrons.”

Cipriani also accuses the company of failing to act on the information he provided and singles out Sibella for failing to act after being notified “on multiple occasions of the continued presence of gamblers with criminal records, pending criminal charges, or who are otherwise the focus of law-enforcement investigation at RWLV’s tables,” according to the lawsuit, which also accuses the company and its former top officer of causing Cipriani “irreparable harm” by its inaction.

“Not only was Mr. Cipriani charged with larceny, a subsequent robbery charge was added to Mr. Cipriani’s indictment over four months after the arrest – a violent crime and category B felony carrying a minimum sentence of two years of imprisonment with an enhancement charge for a purportedly vulnerable victim. … It was not until May 4, 2022, almost six months after Mr. Cipriani’s arrest, that these charges were duly dropped.”

Prior to the felony charges being dropped, the Clark County District Attorney’s office had attempted to have Cipriani’s bail conditions enhanced, accusing him of waging “a campaign to smear this person [Sibella], for the sole purpose of getting the casino/hotel to lift their trespass order and, presumably, to influence the criminal case.”

The lawsuit includes multiple exhibits that purport to show Cipriani in communication with company officials informing them of the problematic players in their midst.

A call to Resorts World general counsel seeking comment was not returned by deadline, but the company through spokespersons has previously stated it has maintained compliance with all gaming regulations.

A text message to Sibella seeking comment generated a brief response to the lawsuit that reads in part, “Harassing is an understatement.”

Disclosure: The author has been represented by the law firm of Campbell & Williams on an unrelated legal matter.