Six figures walked out the door without a ticket

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It’s the late 1980s and I’ve been in charge of the Stardust race and sports book for about five years. During that time eight other hotels were forced to open race and sports books to try to compete, but we were doing over 25% of the Strip business.

More important, we were winning over 25% of the Strip win. In 1988 and 1989 we averaged over $200 million handle per year. Locals, tourists and wise guys from around the country flocked to the Stardust, and many of our innovative ideas kept them coming.

Among the fresh ideas: we were the first book to keep the cashier open 24/7. We didn’t make the players wait to take their money so why should we make them wait to collect?

It was during these booming years that I hired Bill Brennan.

Bill was a pleasant, humble kid from Philadelphia, a loner who lived with his beloved cat close to the Stardust. I sensed in him the type of employee I always hired. He was an honest, accurate ticket writer and I promoted him to cashier, which is the most responsible, highest paying hourly position. He was content.

But after a couple years I sensed a chill. Bill wanted to be a supervisor, a prestigious position in a sports book. However, no one gives up that spot unless they’re offered their own sports book to run – so an opening is rare.

As time goes on I know my feelings are correct – Bill is changing. I hear he’s betting and cashing tickets at the Frontier next-door – tickets in the $4,000, $5,000 range.

A customer (not a fan of mine) got hold of him, and although Bill may have been a small partner, mainly he was this guy’s gopher.

Now this particular customer had himself overrated, thinking he was entitled to special favors and numbers at the sports counter. He demanded special treatment, which he didn’t deserve or get, and complained to the casino manager, leveling accusations about me and my crew.

The complaints did him no good, so he turned his attention to Bill and gradually poisoned Bill’s mind against us for not giving him a supervisor job.

With Bill upset, this guy potentially had someone on the inside, so I told Bill he had to change his attitude – but he just became more distant.

Now our night business at the 24/7 cashier window was so popular we increased the cashier’s opening bankroll to $300,000.

The cashier picked up the bank at midnight and got escorted to the book. I requested security in the book 24/7, but the “suits” upstairs were not receptive to a guard in the morning hours, so they built a cage for the cashier.

I wasn’t impressed. I was concerned about a gun in the cashier’s face – in an empty book, with the outside doors close by. However, what did happen didn’t require a gun.

On a fall day in September 1992, Bill got his $300,000 bank and simply walked out those close-by doors.

I use the $300,000 figure because that was the bank when I left the Stardust in December 1991, nine months before the robbery. Other accounts put it at $500,000, which I can’t vouch for.

When I heard, I wasn’t surprised the sports book cage got robbed. I knew it would be just a matter of time since they had no security at times. What shocked me was it got taken down from the inside.

Bill picked up his cat before he disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. That much is known. From there it’s all conjecture. Did he plan it alone? If he had an accomplice, who? Was it the customer who turned him against the Stardust? Did he have inside help?

It’s been 22 years and not a trace of Bill. He would be 56 today. His cat is long gone, but Bill? No money or even a chip has ever surfaced. He was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and his story was featured on “America’s Most Wanted.”

Still, there’s never been a sighting or even a lead. They watched his Philadelphia ties to no avail. Was he killed or did he make it out of the country? All that’s certain is he cashed out at least $300,000 without even making a laydown.

Take care, Scotty

Scotty Schettler began his Las Vegas journey in 1968. By the time he quit the race and sports book business he had booked over $1.5 billion for different employers. He says he knows where most of the cans are buried. His book,  is available on amazon.com. Contact Scotty at [email protected].

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