Money stolen from Shohei Ohtani moved through Las Vegas and California casinos

May 1, 2024
By
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Ohtani's interpreter was found to have run up a debt of over $40m with an illegal bookmaker.

After being accused of stealing $16m from Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, it has now possibly been discovered just how Ohtani’s interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, moved the money to an illegal bookmaking operation. ESPN claims sources with direct knowledge to the operation have explained that a series of $500k payments sent by Mizuhara from Ohtani's bank account to the bookmaker were forwarded to California and Las Vegas casinos, where the money was deposited in gambling accounts, converted into playing chips and then cashed out to be used as payment for the bookie. 

California bookmaker Mathew Bowyer was allegedly the person who took Mizuhara’s bets and would have any losses sent to an associate according to what the sources reportedly told ESPN. Bowyer’s associate would then forward the money to his own "marker" accounts at Resorts World Las Vegas and Pechanga Resort Casino in Southern California. The men then withdrew chips from the marker account, gambled with them and, if they had won, cash out. 

According to an affidavit created by federal authorities, Resorts World is currently in the middle of an investigation into "illegal sports bookmaking organizations operating in Southern California, and the laundering of the proceeds of these operations through casinos in Las Vegas." Various punishments have been handed out under the investigation as authorities have charged 12 people to date, saw two Las Vegas casinos agree to pay fines and issued a federal subpoena to Resorts World in accordance to its anti-money laundering possibilities. 

Mizuhara reportedly ran up a debt of over $40m, but bookies allow certain bettors to bet on “credit,” under the assumption they have the financial backing to pay the debt at some point. Due to his connection with Ohtani, it was believed by Bowyer that Mizuhara would be able to pay any credit he had accumulated. 

Bowyer, according to the ESPN sources, became a frequent guest of Resorts World after its opening in 2021, spending over $800k in his first visit alone and becoming what most in the industry refer to as a “whale,” someone unconcerned with losing millions on any casino floor. Bowyer has been accused of working with then Resorts World President Scott Sibella to receive complimentary amenities and even recoup losses through payments to his wife. Sibella was fired as President in Sep. 2023. 

The new details being released about how Ohtani’s money was transferred through accounts could lead to discoveries in the ongoing federal probe into Mizuhara and his theft. Federal authorities filed a complaint accusing Mizuhara of bank fraud which can carry a maximum fine of $1m and/or up to 30 years in prison. Mizuhara is expected to appear in front of US District Court on May 3 and be released on bond shortly after. 

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