May 13, 2020 3 min read


Rio 2011 Chip Heist Suspect Arrested by FBI in Los Angeles

The last of the three suspects from the famous Rio chips robbery, Steven Gao, is now arrested after fleeing to China and evading justice since 2011.

Fleeing to China in 2011, Gao is Now Arrested

Steven Gao, a suspect in a 2011 gambling chips robbery, was arrested in Los Angeles, FBI has announced. The Federal Bureau of Investigation tweeted on May 12: “A man wanted for stealing 30K plus in casino chips from a Las Vegas casino before fleeing the U.S. was arrested by the FBI’s LA Fugitive Task Force on behalf of @FBILasVegas.” Arrested Steven Gao is currently held in FBI’s Los Angeles headquarters, expecting a transfer to Las Vegas.

Steven Gao, along with Edward Land and Hiroyuki Yamaguchi, participated in the Rio robbery back in 2011. While Edward Land and Hiroyuki Yamaguchi were captured and sentenced, Steven Gao has been at large until his recent capture. According to local authorities, Gao was the gunman from the robbery, but he somehow managed to return to China. Considering that China does not have an extradition agreement with the United States, chances of bringing him to justice were close to nil, until now.

The Rio Robbery in February 2011

Steven Gao’s relation to Edward Land was that he owed Land some $15,000 debt. This was because of Gao’s gambling problem. According to Louis Schneider, Land’s lawyer, on the day of the robbery, Land gave a ride to Gao without knowing that this was a robbery. Land then saw Gao taking a mask and revolver and this is when he got scared and fled the scene, adds the lawyer. Schneider also noted: “My client should have called the police right then. He put himself in a stupid position, and he’s going to pay a very big price for it.” Although Land fled, without contacting the authorities, he didn’t repeat this mistake and back in 2013, when Gao tried contacting him, he notified the authorities right away.

After entering Rio casino, Gao started taking chips from the dealer at a Pai Gow table. Upon being confronted by the dealer, he produced a gun. After bagging the chips Gao allegedly fled the scene with the help of Yamaguchi, who was a cab driver, but the police tied him up to Gao’s plan for the robbery.

Even though that nobody was injured during the robbery, the captured Land and Yamaguchi both received charges. Back in 2013, Land pleaded guilty to robbery and conspiracy. Yamaguchi on the other hand, for the same charges, pleaded guilty via an Alford plea, meaning that he didn’t admit any guilt but at the same time let the prosecutors prove the case.

Steven Gao’s charges on the other hand are likely to include conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery with use of a deadly weapon and burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon.

This is hardly the most shocking incident that has ever happened at a casino. Back in 2017, two men killed a casino patron at the Magic Diamonds Casino in Montana. When the police apprehended them, one of the men explained that the other assailant wanted to “eat the victim’s brain.”


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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