SpyCast 8.15.23
Ep 598 | 8.15.23

"The Gambling Capital of the World: Intelligence, Las Vegas Style!" – with James Lockhart and Keith Michaels

Show Notes


Keith Michaels (LinkedIn) and James Lockhart (LinkedIn) join Andrew to discuss intelligence in an unlikely place: Casinos! James and Keith have collectively over 30 years of experience within Las Vegas gaming surveillance. 

What You’ll Learn


  • How casinos conduct surveillance
  • Collaboration between casinos and intelligence organizations 
  • The mob origins of Las Vegas
  • Nation-state intelligence threats in casinos 


  • It’s just the luck of the draw … or is it? 
  • Playing your cards right

And much, much more …

Episode Notes

You’ve seen James Bond pay his luck at several casino tables. You’ve watched the classic movies Ocean’s Eleven, 21, and Molly’s Game. Maybe you’ve even rolled the dice yourself … but how much do you know about the very real surveillance operations that casinos run to take down some of the most elaborate money-making schemes around the world? 

This week on SpyCast, Andrew is joined by Keith Michaels and James Lockhart on a journey into the secret underbelly of the “Gambling Capital of the World,” Las Vegas. How do casinos conduct surveillance, and what prompted them to adopt formal surveillance operations? Tune in to find out.


The oldest casino in downtown Sin City is the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, opened only months after the founding of the city in 1905. Room and board was a stiff $1 charge per night, as the hotel was considered first class. In another first, the Golden Gate was home to the first telephone in Las Vegas! 

Quotes of the Week

“Casino operations are venues for intelligence activity, not just for the low-level criminal or the higher-level criminal, but also nation states … You know, we're only catching about 35% of what's going on. There's a lot of cash moving around very fast. A lot of people coming in and out in a casino. So, the possibilities are kind of endless.” – James Lockhart




*Beginner Resources*



  • Casino: The Rise and Fall of the Mob in Las Vegas, N. Pileggi (Ebury Press, 2015)
  • Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling, D. G. Schwartz (Winchester Books, 2013) 
  • Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, B. Mezrich (Free Press, 2002)
  • Casino Royale, I. Fleming (Jonathan Cape, 1953)



Primary Sources 

*Wildcard Resource*