Guns and Gambling: Two Passions of Las Vegas Mass Murderer Stephen Paddock

4 min read

Slowly but surely, the public is learning more information about Stephen Paddock, the man who killed 58 people in addition to himself and injured more than 500 innocent concertgoers in the largest mass shooting in modern US history. But his motive remains an enigma.

Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock
More details about the life of Stephan Paddock are emerging, but his motive for committing mass murder is still fuzzy. (Image: Nevada DMV)

The FBI is hoping his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, can provide more insight into the 64-year-old’s actions, as she returned Tuesday from the Philippines at the agency’s behest. But until then, the portrait emerging of a man whose violent rage still makes no sense shows someone engaged in two all-American pastimes, guns and gambling.

The retired accountant apparently made significant money in real estate, and became an avid video poker player, where it was common for him to wager $10,000 or more in a day. Law enforcement officials confirmed that different casinos filed 16 Currency Transaction Reports in recent weeks, as required by the IRS when a player cashes in or out for more than $10,000.

Paddock’s pattern of play earned him Caesars’ Seven Star status, the highest tier in their Total Rewards program. This made him eligible for free rooms, shows, parking, and access to Diamond Lounges, which are exclusive VIP areas offering complimentary food and beverage, and spa access.

Frequent Casino Visitor

Paddock’s brother told reporters he loved living the lifestyle on the low end of high-roller gambling. Eric Paddock said his brother was a millionaire who lived comfortably and that gambling large amounts of money were routine and not necessarily problematic.

“He was a big fish at the Atlantis in Reno,” Eric Paddock said, while also acknowledging that Stephen had recently reported a $40,000 slot machine win.

Paddock made several 75-mile trips from his home in Mesquite to Las Vegas to gamble, taking advantage of free accommodations. An unnamed source told NBC News that he had put $160,000 in play the last couple of weeks but it is unknown whether he won or lost.

An anonymous source told ABC News that he didn’t show any signs of having an issue with problem gambling. “He was a very consistent player,” the source said. “The notion of his winning or losing $40,000 seems very much within his norm. He paid his bills, and he came back.”

Red Flags Investigated

One transaction that has raised suspicions with the FBI was a wire transfer of $100,000 to the Philippines, the home country of his girlfriend Danley, who was there during the Las Vegas rampage. Paddock apparently bought her a plane ticket to Manila, and she also visited Hong Kong and Australia en route.

One of Danley’s sisters, who lives in Queensland, told Australian media there that Danley was unaware of her boyfriend’s plan.

“She didn’t even know that she was going to the Philippines until Steve said ‘Marilou I found you a cheap ticket to the Philippines,’” the sister said. “He sent her away so that he can plan what he is planning without interruptions. In that sense, I thank him for sparing my sister’s life. But that won’t be to compensate the 59 peoples’ lives.” 

Mandalay Bay, post-mass murder incident
Police say everything about Paddock’s deadly assault on a music festival was premeditated. (Image: Getty Images)

Sniper’s Perch

Another avenue investigators are exploring comes from the sheer number of guns he owned. Authorities have so far found more than 47 guns in his Mandalay Bay hotel suite and homes in Mesquite and Reno, Nevada, several of them loaded with high-capacity magazines. Apparently, all of them were purchased legally, dating back to 1982.

He had bought 33 firearms in his arsenal between October 2016 and last week. Some of the 19 guns he brought up to his Mandalay Bay suite were fitted with “bump stocks,” a device that allowed them to operate like a fully automatic assault rifle.

On late Tuesday, NBC News cited a law enforcement source confirming that Paddock had attempted to rent rooms at the Ogden, a 21-story condominium tower in downtown Las Vegas, during the Life is Beautiful festival, Sept. 22-24. This building overlooked the main stage for an event where an estimated 50,000 people gathered each day to see musical acts such as Chance the Rapper, Lorde, and Wiz Khalifa.

But with requested rooms reportedly unavailable and never booked, Paddock checked in to his corner suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay the following week, on Sep. 28, right before the start of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival, where so many people died, and so many questions remain.

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