A poker and blackjack player has accused the Massachusetts MGM Springfield hotel and casino of theft, claiming more than $20,000 went missing from his room safe while he watched the New England Patriots play…
Richard Angelica, who describes himself as a semi-pro, was on a two-day trip to the MGM Springfield, courtesy of a casino host who invited him to play at the casino, throwing in transport and tickets to see the local Patriots play against the Buffalo Bills on December 26th.
Having arrived at the MGM around 9:30 a.m., Angelica checked into his room and then took the casino-organised bus to the Gillette Stadium. After the game, he boarded the same bus and returned to the resort at around 7 p.m.
Angelica, who lives in New Jersey but has family in Springfield, claims that on returning from the NFL match – won 33-21 by the Bills – he found that his room key was no longer working.
What followed was the stuff of nightmares for a gambler, as Angelica was informed he had checked out earlier that day and his belongings – and the safe containing his bankroll – had been removed from his room.
When Angelica collected his things, he discovered that $20,900 was missing from the money he had left in the safe.
“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” Angelica told the media, stating: “I deal with probably 20 to 30 different casino hosts and reps throughout the country, year-round.”
A heated argument then reportedly ensued between Angelica and Gary Rescigno, assistant manager of security at MGM Springfield, with the gambler not only unhappy at his claimed loss, but how it happened.
“Their normal protocol is to call myself, or a casino host that represents me,” said Angelica of his unexpected checkout. “If there’s an instance where they think I checked out of my room they should have informed me. Also, my room was reserved well ahead of time, for two nights.”
He also questioned who checked him out and why the MGM didn’t question it as he was at a football game provided by the casino.
In response, an MGM Springfield spokesperson has reportedly acknowledged parts of Angelica’s claims relating to the casino host and has referred the incident to Massachusetts State Police’s Gaming Enforcement Unit.
Poker players and gamblers are a natural target for thieves and ne’er do-wells, seen as relatively easy pickings with a good likelihood of a big prize for the bad guys.
In 2019, a poker player was drugged while playing at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Florida and robbed of his Rolex and cash by two women who then accompanied him to his hotel room.
CCTV shows the man playing poker and chatting to the two women who approached him. Later he can be seen with the suspected thieves at the slot machines, one woman slipping something into his drink.
Part of his journey from the casino to his nearby hotel was also caught on camera, the victim claiming he had difficulty moving and then lost consciousness immediately on entering his room.
When he came to, his gold and silver Rolex watch worth around $15,000 was gone, along with $1,000 in cash.
Big tournaments have also been subject to spates of theft over the years, the 2014 WSOP seeing multiple players, Finnish pro Joni Jouhkimainen among them, having personal property – including laptops and large sums of money –stolen from their hotel rooms at the Rio.
Both my and @Jouhkb’s laptops stolen from our room at Rio. Everything else, wallets, ipads etc still here. EPT Barcelona again?
— Lauri Pesonen (@pesoslauri) May 28, 2014
That mention of the EPT Barcelona refers to one of the biggest scandals in poker history, when players had their laptops hacked by Danish pro Peter Jepsen, who was later jailed for his six-year long scam.
Jepsen’s accomplices broke into fellow pros’ hotel rooms during tournaments and installed Trojan malware on their laptops – which then gave Jepsen access to their holecards.
Jepsen was convicted of computer-based theft related to cheating at online poker and received a four-year prison sentence with six months deducted for the overly long investigation, which lasted five years.
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