The odds are getting rejiggered in the closely watched race for three lucrative casino licenses in the New York City area - partly because of an alleged bookmaking scandal that's unfolding in Las Vegas, The Post has learned.
Until as recently as last week, MGM Grand and Resorts World - operators, respectively, of the Empire City Casino in Yonkers and the Resorts World Casino at the Aqueduct Race Track in Queens - had been considered shoo-ins to win two of the three coveted full-scale casino licenses in a state-run process that's slated to conclude next spring.
Those calculations, however, may have been upended in recent days - with MGM's odds particularly at risk, according to sources.
That's following news that Scott Sibella - the former head of the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas - has been ousted as president and operating chief of Resorts World, which he had joined from MGM in 2019.
In a statement to The Post, Resorts World said Sibella's surprise exit from the company Friday was "effective immediately" over Sibella's "failing to disclose certain information required under company policies."
Resorts World declined to give more specifics.
Federal agents, however, are reportedly probing whether employees at MGM Grand, where Sibella was president in 2017 and 2018, had been using company assets to pay off gambling debts to notorious bookie Wayne Nix, who pleaded guilty last year to running a massive, illegal gambling operation and filing false tax returns, according to an August article in the Nevada Current.
A call was placed to Sibella, who did not return the message.
The fact that Resorts World took action to oust Sibella may be enough to save its place in the New York City casino race, according to sources.
The picture may be more complicated for MGM, which now may have questions to answer about what happened on Sibella's watch several years ago, according to people close to the Gaming Commission.
"This is a bigger problem for MGM because they were [allegedly] involved in the conduct," said a source who has recently advised the New York Gaming Commission, although not involved in the current race for licenses. "But Resorts World would need to get rid of the stain."
"Ethics is going to be a huge deal in deciding who gets the licenses," the source added. "The ethics and the relationships with the communities where they are putting their casinos is where this is going to be fought and won."
"You'd have to think this investigation into Sibella reflects badly on MGM," according to the source, who is not advising any of the casinos in this process.
Reps for MGM didn't respond to requests for comment on Monday.
Unlucky news for MGM could be good for rivals in the casino sweepstakes.
Bally's, a bidder controlled by New York financier Soo Kim, increased its chances of getting a license this month by acquiring the contract to run Trump Links in the Bronx.
Other bidders include New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has proposed to build a casino in the Citi Field parking lot.
Casino giants Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands are also among those battling for the three licenses.
Nix, meanwhile, is scheduled to be sentenced in March when more may be revealed about the investigations into his activities by the US Justice Department, US Immigration and Customs, and the IRS.
DOJ, and US Immigration spokesmen declined comment.
The IRS said it did not talk about ongoing investigations.
themes: New York City New York (state) Las Vegas Nevada