A New Year’s spate of legal- and crime-related tales continues out of Massachusetts with the story of a New Jersey high roller who stored $30,000 in his casino-hotel room’s safe, only to find nearly $21,000 missing after returning from an outing and finding himself involuntary checked out of his room.
Richard Angelica, who claims to be a semi-professional poker player, told metro Boston’s MassLive.com that the alleged theft occurred at MGM Springfield on December 26. Angelica was in town to visit relatives and attend a New England Patriots game, having been recruited to stay there by an MGM Springfield casino host. When he returned to his room after the game he found his key card didn’t work and that the hotel’s staff claimed he’d checked out of the room earlier in the day.
The room was allegedly emptied of all of Angelica’s belongings, including $30,000 he claimed to have had in the room’s personal safe. Though his other belongings and some money was returned, Angelica then claimed that $20,900 of his gambling money was missing. That led to a heated argument with the casino’s management and security and an eventual escalation to Massachusetts’ State Police.
Angelica has also claimed to be a high-roller gambler who had been invited to stay at MGM Springfield, and that the $30,000 he’d allegedly had in the safe was typical for one of his frequent gambling trips. The tickets to the Patriots game against the visiting Buffalo Bills were part of the offer provided to him by the casino, and that he was checked out of the room, without his knowledge, less than 12 hours after checking in.
The New Jersey-based gambler declared to MassLive.com that he spent much of his time bouncing from one casino to the next, often for four or five days a week. “Nothing like this has ever happened before,” Angelica told the outlet. “I deal with probably 20 to 30 different casino hosts and reps throughout the country, year-round.” Angelica was even taken to and from the Patriots-Bills game via a special casino-organized shuttle bus.
“Their normal protocol is to call myself, or a casino host that represents me,” Angelica added. “If there’s an instance where they think I checked out of my room they should have informed me. Also, my room was reserved well ahead of time, for two nights.”
Odds of recovery appear slim
An MGM Springfield spokesperson acknowledged to MassLive that Angelica’s claims regarding the casino host’s responsibilities were correct, and that the matter had been referred to Massachusetts State Police’s Gaming Enforcement Unit. However, the casino declined further questions, and there’s no indication that the Gaming Enforcement Unit would even complete an investigation into the matter, since it involved alleged theft rather than a gaming-related incident.
Angelica claims to be mostly a blackjack and poker player. Whether he has frequented MGM Springfield’s newly reopened poker room in the past is unknown; he has no online tournament-poker history, meaning that if he indeed plays poker, it’s solely in cash games.
The reality of the situation is that Angelica’s odds of recovery aren’t good. Assuming his claims are legitimate, it still becomes a “he said / they said” matter, even though the irregular checkout happenings added some veracity to his claims. There appears to be little chance he can prove the entire claimed $30,000 was in the safe when it was emptied by hotel staff.
Such claims of theft of cash and valuables from room safes are unfortunately way too common, and poker forums are rife with tales of similar happenings at poker events. Many poker players have described such thefts in the past and have issued broad warnings never to trust hotel-room safes, even though a forced checkout such as this would likely have uncovered other bankroll hiding places as well. Perhaps the largest lesson Angelica’s tale offers to other gamblers is to never travel with too much cash, if it can be avoided.
Featured image source: MGM Springfield