Bellagio employees foil attempted casino robbery

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

Some quick-thinking employees thwarted a high-stakes robbery attempt at a Las Vegas casino.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that around 11 p.m. on Saturday, the alleged thieves entered the Bellagio wearing wigs and sunglasses. Armed with pepper spray, they attempted to steal 23 high-value chips from a blackjack table.

After dousing the dealer with the pepper spray, the men attempted to swipe 23 "Flags" chips, worth $5,000 each, and $115,000 total, according to the Metro Police report.

Casino employees had time to grab one of the thieves, 24-year-old Michael Quinn Belton, after his pepper spray repeatedly malfunctioned.

"The guy kept spraying and the thing wouldn't work," said Richard Hauck, who was playing at the table at the time of the attempted robbery. "The spray kept falling on the table."

After casino security officers arrived to arrest Belton, he reportedly confessed to the robbery and said a high-stakes gambler named "Carlos Rodriguez" had recruited him.

The other man accompanying Belton during his blackjack table raid managed to escape the Bellagio and is reportedly still at large.

Belton says he met Rodriguez through a Craigslist ad about a job repossessing cars, according to the Sun.

"Rodriguez informed Belton that he was a 'high roller' gambler in Las Vegas and would be able to later exchange the stolen chips for money, which he would split among the suspects," reads the Metro Police report.

Police say Rodriguez was checked into a room at nearby Mandalay Bay where he was registered as a complimentary guest of the casino's Player's Club. However, he reportedly never checked into his room. Belton claims he and his accomplice were supposed to meet Rodriguez at the room after the robbery.

Belton is currently being held on a $60,00 bail and has been charged with two counts of robbery, one count of burglary and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery.

UNLV's Center for Gaming Research director David Schwartz tells KLTV that it's unlikely the men would have been able to cash in their chips, even if they'd escaped from the Bellagio.

"If you're doing this with chips, you're always going to have to get those chips back to the casino, and there's really only one place where you can cash them inwhich is a casino," he said. "So, that's usually what prevents most of these from working."

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