The New York news bubble is real and rarely lets in any outside noise.
So it is entirely conceivable that folks in the Empire State may have missed some recent news out of Las Vegas that could have significant implications on the downstate New York casino licensing process.
Last month, a longtime Sin City gambling executive with direct ties to two NY casino operators pleaded guilty in federal court for failing to file a suspicious activity report.
According to court documents, Scott Sibella permitted a known (and since-convicted) illegal bookmaker to gamble at a casino under his supervision in 2018.
Black eye, gut punch for legal gambling
Sibella, 61, faces up to five years in prison and a six-figure fine when sentenced on May 8.
Another unsettled legal matter involving Sibella’s management — or lack thereof — alleges he allowed known criminals to operate freely in his casino hotel.
As more and more of the Sibella saga unfolds, it has become clear that Nevada’s regulatory oversight of the legal gambling industry has some holes that need to be addressed. The entire incident is a black eye for an industry that already struggles with positive public perception.
How NY casinos could be impacted
The more intriguing part — and why it matters on the East Coast — relates to where Sibella has worked and who benefited from his admitted oversight (hint: it’s not the government).
Most recently, Sibella was the president and chief operating officer of Resorts World Las Vegas (2019-2023), a property operated by the Genting Group. Before that, he was president and COO of the MGM Grand (2010-2019), a casino hotel run by MGM Resorts International.
Those same two parent companies are vying for downstate NY casino licenses, of which three are available and could open the door to launch online casinos in New York should lawmakers legalize the industry. Genting and MGM currently operate racinos in the downstate area and are considered by many gambling industry experts to be the frontrunners for two of the licenses.
Genting’s Resorts World NYC and MGM’s Empire City Casino could be easily converted to class III gaming facilities (meaning they can offer live-dealer table games and random-number-generator slot machines) and start generating tax revenue for the state within a few weeks.
NY gambling regulators have sticky situation on their hands
But Sibella’s conviction could — and some would argue, should — cause NY gaming regulators to slow down on rubber-stamping those two properties.
It is not unreasonable for NY gaming regulators to have reservations about the decision-making and internal compliance controls of both those potential applicants.
New York gaming regulators have not yet opened up the licensing application process. When they do, Sibella’s Las Vegas legal troubles could pose a problem for Gotham gambling operators looking for a chance to win big in the Big Apple.
Our friends at Bonus.com, a sister site of PlayNY, have a detailed rundown of Sibella’s story and career.