Johan Sowada

From Rain Man to Ocean’s Eleven, several films have laid out a blueprint for those who want to cheat the house and walk away with a raft of winnings from the casino. Whether it’s counting cards like Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man, or actually arranging a heist like Brad Pitt, George Clooney and co. in the franchise, is it actually possible to steal from a casino? Especially from one of these super casino sites!

Obviously stealing is a crime, but could the blueprint we see in the heist movies actually work? One thing is for sure, it would certainly take a lot of planning.

In Ocean’s Eleven, Danny Ocean, played by George Clooney, and Rusty Ryan, played by Brad Pitt, try to persuade former casino owner Reuben Tishkof to help them rob the Bellagio, The Mirage and the MGM Grand casino. Reuben agrees as he wants to get back at his rival owner Terry Benedict.

Research

You need to identify the best time to strike.

In the film, Danny and Rusty identify the night of a big boxing match to hit the Bellagio vault.

The right team

You are unlikely to be able to do it all alone, and will need people with experience and the right types of skills.

In the film, Danny and Rusty seek out eight former colleagues and criminal specialists to help in different parts of a heist. They get Frank Catton, played by Bernie Mac who is a casino worker and conman, two mechanics, an electrician, a surveillance expert and an acrobat called Yen.

Planning

You won’t be able to just walk in one night and then leave again with bags of money. You need to identify the best routes and entry and exit points, where there are CCTV cameras and what the casino security is like.

The characters make several reconnaissance missions to familiarise themselves with the casinos. The team also build a replica of the safe at the Bellagio so they can practice – this also became important later in the plan.

A diversion

If you’re looking suspicious, it is likely that the management may have been alerted to you by the watchful eyes of security.

Ocean manages to get himself locked in storeroom by Benedict, who is now with Danny’s ex-wife. Benedict sends a security guard to beat up Danny, but he turns out to be a friend and instead helps him escape to a ventilation shaft leading to the vault.

A strategy

Most casinos will have a strategy in place to stop anyone getting in or out of a vault, so you will need a cunning plan to actually get your hands on the money.

In Ocean’s Eleven, two other conmen on the team stage a confrontation in front of Benedict so another can steal the vault codes from his jacket. The acrobat Yen is smuggled into the vault to help trigger explosives. The men manage to sneak around as Saul, another member of the team, stages a heart attack that draws the security men’s attention away from the monitors.

The group also staged a power cut after which Rusty calls Benedict to say he is being robbed and directs him to look at his security camera. Here Benedict sees video footage of the vault being robbed and is told him to help unload the money to a van or it will be destroyed. However, this is actually fake footage and is of the replica vault.

An exit plan

You need to be able to get out with the money and without detection.

Benedict calls a SWAT team to protect the money and sends a team to follow the van. However, the SWAT team is actually the crooks, and they are able to walk into the actual vault, take the money and then go out again dressed as the police. The van, which Benedict followed, is actually guided by remote control and is full of paper money.

You may get a buzz of adrenaline, but remember, Danny Ocean ends up going to prison, and it is likely you will need to go into hiding and move far away to be able to actually spend the money. Also in real life, no-one has actually got away with robbing the Bellagio.

It may be less stressful, and more legal, to just enjoy the casino and try to win at a few tables…

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