Video: Bandit escapes with $1.5m in casino chips
Authorities will be looking out for anyone trying to cash high-denomination chips at the Bellagio hotel and casino complex in Las Vegas after an armed bandit stole at least $1.5m (€1.13m) in casino chips and fled on a motorcycle.
The thief took chips ranging in value from $100 (€75) to $25,000 (€19,000) early on Tuesday, police said.
However, he might find it hard to redeem the chips at any other casino except the Bellagio, an Italian-themed casino with a wall of famous fountains along the Las Vegas Strip.
Gordon Absher, spokesman for Bellagio owner MGM Resorts International, said the casino chips are not the same as cash. "At some point they have to be redeemed," he said.
Chips are unique to casino properties and are generally not interchangeable, although state regulations allow casino companies to redeem chips from sister properties with some restrictions.
Mr Absher would not say if MGM Resorts properties are among Las Vegas casinos that embed radio frequency devices in chips. But police will be keeping a close eye on cashier cages in case someone shows up with a stack of $25,000 chips.
The robbery had the makings of a scene straight out of a Hollywood film. Police say a man wearing a jumpsuit and a motorcycle helmet with white stripes walked into the casino with a gun, robbed a betting table then sped away on a motorcycle in the dead of night.
The early morning robbery happened "about as quick as you can do it," police Lt Clinton Nichols said. Police later released an 11-second video showing a man running through a casino entry lobby with a gun in his right hand. At one point, he turned and pointed the weapon behind him.
Estimates of the amount taken from the Bellagio varied. Nichols said it could approach $2m (€1.5m). In a press release, police put the amount at about $1.5m (€1.13m).
Police suspect the same man wore a helmet, flashed a gun and sped away on a black sport motorcycle after robbing the Las Vegas Suncoast Hotel&Casino poker room on December 9. That heist netted less than $20,000 (€15,000) from a poker room cashier, police said.