Key bidder for NYC casino license entangled in Ohtani bet scandal

New York Post
Key bidder for NYC casino license entangled in Ohtani bet scandal
Wild Casino

The Yankees and Mets both whiffed on snagging Shohei Ohtani last year, but “Sho-time” is still shaking up things in New York City — in the battle for state casino licenses in the Big Apple.

A company behind one of the top bidders for the lucrative gaming permits is reportedly tangled up in the federal probe into the betting scandal involving the Japanese baseball superstar’s disgraced interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara.

Resorts World Casino in Las Vegas is at the center of the feds’ investigation because Mizuhara’s bookie frequently bet and parked money there, ESPN reported, citing sources.

The Vegas casino is owned by Malaysia-based Genting — which also operates Resorts World New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Experts tell The Post that these allegations could lead regulators to scrutinize Genting and Resorts World more closely when it comes to their bid for one of the casino licenses.

Genting is planning to apply for the OK to expand its gambling offerings to include live card table games at its Resorts World slots parlor in Ozone Park, Queens.

Resorts World New York City has become one of the state’s biggest cash cows, generating more than $4 billion in revenue supporting the state’s public education funding since opening its doors in 2011.

Given its track record in New York, the casino operator is considered one of the favorites to be awarded one of the three new licenses, industry watchers say.

But Genting’s reported connection to the Mizuhara scandal is “bad news” for the company, said Nelson Rose, a longtime gaming expert and legal consultant who writes a blog called

“One of the standards for casino licensing is reputation,” he said.

The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that Mizuhara agreed to plead guilty to bank and tax fraud after prosecutors alleged he stole nearly $17 million from Ohtani to pay off his gambling debts.

The maximum sentence for the two counts combined is 33 years in prison. He also will be required to pay full restitution to his victims — Ohtani and the IRS.

The big source of Resorts World’s trouble, though, is Mizuhara’s alleged bookie, Matthew Bowyer.

Law-enforcement that Bowyer allegedly used Resorts World Las Vegas and another casino to launder money.

Mizuhara was told to pay his gambling debts to a Bowyer associate, who then deposited them at Resorts World, sources told the outlet.

Bowyer used the money to gamble at the casino — racking up big losses of his own, ESPN reported.

A Vegas-based long-time casino executive claimed to The Post that Bowyer was well known in Sin City for being a bookie.

“He got banned from the Venetian around 2016 because he was an illegal bookie,” the source alleged.

He was later reinstated in 2019.

The IRS has confirmed that Bowyer is under investigation, but he has not been charged with a crime related to the Ohtani/Mizuhara case.

Neither Bowyer nor his lawyer responded to Post requests for comment.

In a separate case, former Resorts World Las Vegas President Scott Sibella was sentenced Wednesday to probation for charges that he turned a blind eye to an illegal bookmaker who laundered money through the MGM Grand while he was running that casino.

Sibella said in his plea agreement with the DOJ that he knew an MGM Grand patron, Wayne Nix, ran and operated an illegal bookmaking business — but still allowed Nix to gamble at the casino with the proceeds from his illicit gambling.

Nix pleaded guilty to conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business.

The Vegas executive said casinos are supposed to police their accounts to watch for the kind of money laundering that is alleged in the Mizuhara case.

“A lot of the problem at Resorts was Sibella, and in his mind he was untouchable,” the Vegas-based casino executive said.

Sibella has not been accused of having any involvement in the Ohtani interpreter gambling scandal, though he ran Resorts Las Vegas at the time.

His lawyers issued a statement saying, “Mr. Sibella had no involvement in the bookmaking activities of Mathew Bowyer and nothing whatsoever to do with Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter of Shohei Ohtani.”

MGM is another contender for one of the new New York casino licenses.

Its Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway also is applying for a casino license to offer live card games.

As with Resorts World, its facility only offers electronic betting games.

There is a risk that MGM’s Sibella experience also may hurt MGM in its bid for a New York casino license, The Post previously reported.

Resorts World New York City sought to separate itself from the Vegas scandal when asked by The Post for comment on the federal probe.

“Resorts World Las Vegas is completely separate from the public company that owns and operates the Resorts World branded properties in New York. We have no details regarding this matter and all questions will need to be directed to Resorts World Las Vegas,” a RW rep said.

The company has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Resorts World Las Vegas said it is cooperating with authorities.

“Once the company became aware of information regarding Mathew Bowyer, we took immediate action to block him from our property. He has not been permitted re-entry and the ban remains in place,” a statement from Resorts World Las Vegas said.

“RWLV is fully committed to its compliance obligations under state and federal laws and regulations, including through consistent application of its rigorous Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures,” the company said.

MGM, which operates the Yonkers racino, also declined comment.

The New York State Gaming Commission declined to comment.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens), whose district borders Resorts World, downplayed the Vegas-based federal probe and said Genting’s strong record and community work in New York is its trump card.

“Resorts World is one of the top gambling spots in the country — as a racino. They’ve been good neighbors — helping the community during Hurricane Sandy and the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. 

Bennett Liebman, who was deputy secretary for gaming and racing under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said that while the new developments might be causing a headache for Resorts World’s ambitions in New York, they should not stand in the way of a new casino license.

“This is absolutely not good for [Resorts World], but it is not disqualifying unless it gets worse,” said Bennett Liebman, who was deputy secretary for gaming and racing under Cuomo.

“We’ll have to see whether the Nevada gaming agencies are investigating this and what the feds are doing. This could change if there is a truly bad finding by regulatory authorities.”

Other casino plans include Mets owner Steve Cohen’s bid for a $8 billion project near Citi Field, Bally’s at Ferry Point in The Bronx, one with Related Companies and Wynn Resorts in Hudson Yards, the Silverstein Properties in Hell’s Kitchen, the Thor Equity consortium gaming facility complex along the Coney Island boardwalk and Sands casino at the Nassau Coliseum hub in Uniondale.

State regulators are not expected to award the licenses until the end of 2025.