Home > Sports betting > Tracking Ohtani’s stolen money directly connects ex-interpreter to Nix illegal gambling ring

Tracking Ohtani’s stolen money directly connects ex-interpreter to Nix illegal gambling ring

| By Jill R. Dorson | Reading Time: 3 minutes
The question of how connected the Ippei Mizuhara, Scott Sibella and Wayne Nix illegal gambling cases are was answered on Tuesday (30 April). Mizuhara's gambling debt payments were washed through the Resorts World Las Vegas and Pechanga casinos by an illegal bookmaker in the Nix gambling ring, directly linking the three cases.
shohei ohtani ippei mizuhara

ESPN’s Tisha Thompson connected the dots. Sources confirmed that Mizuhara’s gambling-debt payments were deposited into casino accounts and converted into chips. Those chips were then used to gamble and any proceeds were converted back to cash.

The story ran hours before it was revealed that the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) had filed charges against Sibella, the former Resorts World president. The NGCB filed a three-count complaint alleging Sibella violated agency regulations.

Sibella in January pled guilty to charges that he aided an illegal gambling ring headed by Nix. Sibella’s sentencing is set for 8 May in the US District Court, Central District of California. Sibella faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Mizuhara also headed to court next week

Mizuhara, baseball star Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, bet with an illegal bookie who was part of the Nix ring. Mizuhara allegedly stole $16m from Ohtani and racked up $40m in gambling debt. He is set to be arraigned on 9 May, also in US District Court, Central District of California. Major League Baseball and federal investigators say Ohtani was a victim in this case and is not under investigation.

Nix, a former minor league baseball player, is at the top of an investigation that has so far resulted in a dozen arrests. Former NBA star Scottie Pippen, former MLB all-star Yasiel Puig and LeBron James’ business manager, Maverick Carter, were reportedly all Nix clients. Nix pled guilty to running an illegal gambling business and filing a false tax return in 2022. He is set to be sentenced on 25 September.

The common denominator in all the illegal gambling ring cases is Mathew Bowyer, a bookie from Orange County, California. On 5 October, Bowyer’s home was raided by the FBI. Additionally, in a 12 April affidavit from IRS criminal investigator Chris Seymour, Mizuhara admitted that he stole from Ohtani. Although Bowyer isn’t named in the affidavit, details in it point to Bowyer as being Mizuhara’s bookie.

“Is there any way to pay via credit or debit card?”

Mizuhara made a series of $500,000 payments to the bookie. He began betting in the fall of 2021 and quickly escalated. The bookie repeatedly offered Mizahara credit, sometimes at the interpreter’s request, sometimes without provocation.

According to the affidavit, Mizuhara struggled with the logistics of paying off his debt. He asked at one point if he could use a debit or credit card. In another text, he wrote that “PayPal wasn’t working right now.” Despite the stress of trying to pay off the debt, Mizuhara asked for “bumps” and continued betting. In one instance he texted the bookie: “I’m terrible at this sports betting thing.”

According to the ESPN story, Bowyer was “dubbed a known bookmaker and banned from entering” US casinos after federal agents raided his home in October. Mizuhara’s betting continued after that date, meaning Bowyer’s associates in the illegal gambling ring would have been the ones to launder money through the casinos.

Bowyer was a regular at Sibella’s Resorts World

Bowyer, according to the story, has a long history with gambling. He filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and, in the filing, gambling losses at two Las Vegas casinos were listed. After being extended $1.2m in credit at Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resorts Casino in 2015, the casino is still trying to get the money back. After that, Bowyer was banned from at least three Las Vegas casinos.

In 2021, when Resorts World opened, Bowyer quickly became a regular customer. He bet millions at Resorts World, where Sibella was then president.

More to come?

Sibella ultimately lost his job last September for “violating company policies”. He pled guilty to violating the Bank Secrecy Act for failing to file suspicious activity reports related to the Nix investigation. Sibella was president at MGM Grand at that time. Casino employees are mandated to file such reports if they suspect a transaction over $5,000 has illegal origins.

While it’s likely that Mizuhara never met Sibella or Nix, the three are now connected, with Bowyer as the fulcrum. He has not yet been charged. But given what has been revealed so far, it seems possible that as federal investigators continue to review materials seized from Bowyer’s home, more scandals will be revealed.

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