Shohei Ohtani’s Stolen Millions Funneled Through Casinos

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Shohei Ohtani’s Stolen Millions Funneled Through Casinos
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The payments allegedly made from Shohei Ohtani’s bank account to an illegal bookmaker by former translator Ippei Mizuhara were forwarded to brick-and-mortar casinos and deposited in gambling accounts, according to a report by ESPN’s Tisha Thompson

The report, which cites multiple sources with direct knowledge of the operation, outlines the funnel that took Ohtani’s funds and eventually landed them in the hands of Southern California bookmaker Mathew Bowyer and his associates. 

Stolen Money Funneled to Marker Accounts

Federal authorities have accused Mizuhara of stealing more than $16 million from Ohtani while serving as the interpreter for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Japanese superstar. Mizuhara allegedly stole the money from a bank account he gained control of in order to pay off debts from what Mizuhara has deemed his gambling addiction.

According to ESPN, Mizuhara paid his losses to an associate of Bowyer, who would then forward the funds to “marker” accounts at Resorts World Las Vegas and Pechanga Resort Casino in California. The associate and Bowyer would then withdraw funds as casino chips, gamble, and cash out any winnings or remaining money.

Bowyer has a long history with Las Vegas casinos, including with Resorts World. He had been banned from multiple Las Vegas casinos, according to casino host Jennifer Belcastro, including at Resorts World.

The ESPN report cites multiple sources saying the Bowyer, along with his wife Nicole and close associates, made regular trips to Resorts World after it opened in 2021. Bowyer spent more than $800,000 in his first visit to the resort alone, according to ESPN.

Sibella, Resorts World Subjects of Money Laundering Investigation 

Sources also told ESPN that Resorts World is at the center of a federal investigation into “illegal sports bookmaking organizations operating in Southern California, and the laundering of the proceeds of these operations through casinos in Las Vegas.”

Resorts World has already been under investigation for issues related to its anti-money laundering and “Know Your Customer” (KYC) policies. 

Scott Sibella served as president of Resorts World Las Vegas before being fired last September for “violating company policies.” He has previously pleaded guilty to charges that he failed to file suspicious activity reports about another Southern California bookie, Wayne Nix while Sibella served as president of MGM Grand from 2011 through 2019. 

Resorts World told ESPN that it did not comment on ongoing legal matters.

“Resorts World Las Vegas takes any suggestion of violations seriously and is cooperating with the ongoing investigation,” a Resorts World spokesperson said.

According to an affidavit filed by federal authorities last month, Mizuhara ran up a debt of around $40.6 million over the course of more than two years while betting with Bowyer’s unregulated sportsbook. Mizuhara allegedly made a series of $500,000 payments out of a bank account that Mizuhara set up for Ohtani to deposit his salary into when he first began playing with the Los Angeles Angels in 2018. 

Mizuhara then told Ohtani’s financial team that the two-way baseball star had denied them access to the account. Over time, he was able to change settings on the account to ensure Ohtani wouldn’t receive alerts about transactions, and changed the contact details on the account to his own in late 2021. 

Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason. In 2024, Ohtani is hitting .336 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs over his first 32 games, though he is not pitching this season as he recovers from a torn UCL.