From Shootings To Vandalism And Cyber Threats: A Round-Up Of Crimes On Casino Property Over The Weekend

November 8, 2021

By a Biometrica staffer

Casino news from the weekend includes reports of shootings and other crimes on properties, and a cyber crime warning. On Saturday, Nov. 6, a shooter fatally wounded two people before turning the gun on himself at Stateline Casino in Bainville, Montana. In Nevada, an intoxicated man allegedly broke a light fixture on a slot machine and threatened staff at a Carson City gaming property.

Meanwhile, late last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Cyber Crime Division warned tribal casino owners to be on high alert for ransomware attacks. Finally, also connected to the hospitality and entertainment industry was news of a shootout at a beachfront near a Mexican resort in Cancun on Thursday, Nov. 4, between two suspected gang members.

In Montana, local newspaper Billings Gazette reported that the shootings took place inside the casino. Deputies responded to reports of a shooting about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, and found three people dead when they arrived. It is unclear what time the incidents occurred. Authorities have not yet revealed a possible motive, although some media reports are terming it a murder-suicide.

Bainville is a small farming town of about 300 people in far-eastern Montana. Both Stateline Casino and the nearby Colby Casino were closed after the shootings. As of early Sunday, Nov. 7 there was no word on when they will reopen. “In tandem with Colby’s casino, we, too, will be closed until further notice. Our entire staff is so grateful and overwhelmed with all of the support. Feeling so thankful for a community of caring people and brave first responders!,” a weekend Facebook post from Stateline said, per Casino.org.

There have been other instances of murder-suicides occurring at gaming properties nationwide. Of those, the deadliest was the Harvest music festival shooting on the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1, 2017. In that incident, a lone gunman — Stephen Craig Paddock — unleashed a rapid-fire barrage of bullets from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel upon those attending a country music festival below, killing at least 59 people and injuring over 500 more. It has been termed the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

Another example occurred this year in March. A Wynn Las Vegas security officer and an employee of the hotel-casino died in what police say was an apparent murder-suicide in a parking garage at the Strip location. The shooting occurred in a remote area on the fifth floor of the secure employee parking garage. No one else was nearby. 

In Nevada, on Friday, Nov. 5, a 60-year-old man was arrested and charged with destruction of property. He later told deputies he was angry that the casino’s employees wouldn’t help him search for his car parked outside. Neither the suspect nor the name of the casino was identified in a local news report. Deputies said a blood alcohol concentration test showed alcohol levels in the man’s bloodstream exceeded the threshold considered as “intoxicated.”

He had allegedly asked casino employees where his car was located. Employees gave him the location, but would not go outside to help him look for it. That led him to tell one worker he would “kick their ass,” according to a local media report. After the threat, employees at the gaming property contacted the local sheriff’s office. Deputies said they saw surveillance video that showed the man breaking the slot machine light fixture.

Meanwhile, numerous cyberattacks on tribal casinos have been reported in recent months. And on Thursday, the FBI asked these casinos to stay on high alert for more threats. Cyber gangs find such businesses attractive to penetrate because of an array of perceived security shortcomings, the FBI said in a recent industry notification distributed to tribal casinos. Since the tribal casinos are located on sovereign land, their IT infrastructure networks are at greater risk of attack, per reports.

The FBI Cyber Crime Division said while many tribal casinos are IT savvy, with world-class computer networks and gaming systems, many others remain limited to basic internet security safeguards. FBI Director Christopher Wray says criminal cyber strikes have increased rapidly over the past decade. Wray said businesses concerned with their IT susceptibility should contact their local FBI field office to learn more about how to protect their networks.