WSOP Parking Lot Robbery Story Raises Rio Security Concerns

3 min read

The WSOP isn’t commenting on an alleged armed robbery that took place in the Rio parking lot Monday morning before sunrise. Las Vegas police are investigating, and poker players are decrying what they claim is inadequate security.

Rio parking lot WSOP
Be careful when carrying cash in a massive parking lot such as at the Rio. (Image: CardsChat News)

Poker player Joe Salvaggi outlined his story in a Twitter thread. He said he was playing an uncapped $2/5 game in the Rio poker room, and he cashed out with about $4,000 in chips and $500 in cash, which he threw into a backpack that held additional big chips before heading to his car in the parking lot at about 4:05 am.

While Salvaggi received support and expressions of concern from his fellow poker players on Twitter, many added their own tales of security fears experienced in the Rio parking lot, and were quick to criticize the WSOP.

Greg Merson, 2012 WSOP Main Event Champion, referred to the lack of security at the Rio as a “joke,” and pointed out that the parking lot has been even less safe since the WSOP got rid of valet parking two years ago:

Scary Parking Lot Encounters

The Rio Convention Center parking lot is massive. Thousands of poker players park in that lot every day during the World Series of Poker. But while cameras hang overhead scanning the width of the parking lot, there are few visible security personnel outside, which makes some poker players claim to feel unsafe.

The official WSOP Twitter account offered a quick response about available security options, and attempted to correct the record amid claims that the Rio had no security patrols in the parking lot.

Salvaggi shared additional details of the incident, and said the Las Vegas Metro Police Department is on the case. However, he says, police informed him that “it could take weeks.”

He gave a description of his attacker as a middle-aged white male with a beard.

No suspect has been arrested and video surveillance appears to be a bit sketchy. After first reviewing film of the robbery, investigators told the poker player they were searching for additional footage, perhaps hoping to find a clearer glimpse of the suspect.

‘No Comment’ from WSOP

WSOP staff members say they always have taken player security seriously, but weren’t able to say much more about the incident while a police investigation is underway.

“I have no comment until the robbery has been verified,” Caesars VP of Corporate Communications Seth Palansky told CardsChat News. “We don’t deal with anonymous claims.”

Poker pro and founder of Poker Fraud Alert Todd Witteles acknowledged that while some WSOP robbery claims historically have proven specious, that doesn’t negate the need for more practical security measures.

To be clear, Palansky wasn’t accusing Salvaggi of making up a story. He simply cannot share much with the media until an investigation provides more clear details.

Meanwhile, CardsChat’s own Ryan Laplante offered some sober perspective:

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