On October 1, 2017, a gunman named Stephen Paddock killed 58 and injured more than 850 people who were attending a country music concert in Las Vegas. The murderer fired semiautomatic assault weapons, equipped with bump-stocks, from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, a casino hotel owned by MGM Resorts International.
It was the worst single-shooter gun massacre in the history of the United States. So it’s important to understand what happened. But we don’t—not at all.
The Sheriff of Clark County and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police released a preliminary 81-page report in January 2018 and the Washington Post headline summarizes the Sheriff’s message: “Las Vegas police say they have not found a motive for shooting rampage.”
That is absurd.
While it is impossible to know the motive of a dead man, it is overwhelmingly likely that he was acting out his negative emotions caused by severe gambling addiction and losing tremendous sums of money.
I’ll bet you don’t remember anybody writing about Paddock’s addiction or loss of money. Instead, you remember claims that he was a “professional gambler” and that he was quite rich, worth about $5 million.
Let’s start with the money.
On March 1, the Clark County District Court appointed a CPA to make an inventory of Paddock’s assets and report back by May 31. This appointment was made because the Clark County Public Administrator, John Cahill, didn’t want the job. After this appointment and outside the courtroom, the Associated Press reports that Cahill said “he believed Stephen Paddock’s main assets might amount to little more than the value of homes he owned in Reno and a southern Nevada retirement community in Mesquite,” which might total $800,000 in value. “Police said he spent everything,” Cahill said.
Here we are, six months after the murders. The police surely know (and have known for more than five months) exactly what Paddock is worth. The Public Administrator, who is in a position to know, says that Paddock had used up all his liquid assets. He was just about broke. Sounds like a motive, doesn’t it?
And why was he broke? This is what Las Vegas authorities don’t want anyone to talk about.
If you read about his style of gambling, chronicled in the New York Times, New York Magazine and the New York Post, the murderer had all the indications of a pathological gambler, meaning that he could not stop himself.
A little more than a week after the shooting, CNN summarized a deposition that Paddock gave about his own gambling habits:
He was a nocturnal creature who gambled all night and slept all day. He took Valium at times for anxiousness, and had the doctor who prescribed it to him on retainer. He wagered up to a million dollars a night, but wandered around glitzy Las Vegas casinos in sweatpants and flip-flops, and carried his own drink into the high rollers’ area because he didn’t want to tip the waitresses too much.
As the New York Post reported:
Paddock described himself as the “biggest video poker player in the world…. I averaged 14 hours a day, 365 days a year….I’ll gamble all night … I sleep during the day…. Each time I push the button, it will range from $100 to $1,350.”
Anthony Curtis, the owner and publisher of Las Vegas Advisor, a website covering the casino business, explained: “Video poker is the crack cocaine of gambling.”
Curtis noted that Paddock would play the machines for hours, betting on several hundred hands an hour. “This guy was a dyed-in-the-wool video poker player who would play the $5, $10, and $25 machines…. He could easily approach 1,000 hands an hour with his eyes closed, which means he’s betting over $100,000 an hour,” explained Curtis.
Understand video poker. The machines contain a computer program designed to return about 99 percent of the money that players bet, which makes them think they are winning—or close to winning—and therefore keeps them playing. If Paddock bet $100,000 an hour, he was losing—on average—about $1,000 per hour. If he bet $1 million a night, he was losing $10,000 per night. He could afford that for a while, but ultimately he ran out of cash.
Because of the way the machines report back to the casinos, MGM Grand knew exactly how much he was losing. And within days of the shooting, the police had to know as well. But neither wanted to discuss this motive. Why?
As the New York Post reported back in October:
Many on the Vegas strip are hoping that there are no ties between Paddock’s play and whatever propelled him to execute the massacre. “You know how Muslims are always relieved when the lunatic who commits a crime like this turns out not to be Muslim?” asked a publicist for one of the major Vegas resort brands. “Well, it would be bad if this happened because of his gambling addiction. Right now people are being so supportive because there’s a sense that this only happened in Vegas. It all takes a different taint if it turns out that this happened because of Vegas.”
Doesn’t that seem like a cover-up to you?
(For a discussion of gambling addiction, see the Report of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission.)