Vice Media’s founder Shane Smith is a Vegas ‘high roller’
Gambling is a vice, and the head of Vice is a gambler.
Shane Smith, co-founder and executive chairman of Vice Media, is a high roller in Las Vegas who bets $25,000 chips and gives huge tips to dealers, a source says.
The bearded Canadian, who was said to be worth $1 billion two years ago, regularly flies with his family to Vegas on a private jet provided by the Mansion at MGM.
With Vice expecting $50 million in losses this year and a round of layoffs underway that will trim off 10 percent of its workforce, a former Vice staffer told me, “It’s disheartening.” The staffer said that “while Vice burns,” Smith seems to be “fiddling in Vegas.”
Smith plays blackjack in a private salon with $25,000 orange-colored chips known as “pumpkins.” There are no other players, just a dealer and a floorman.
When he wins, Smith is a big tipper, known in Vegas vernacular as a “George.” “He has been known to tip over $100,000,” my source said.
Unlike other “whales,” who bring a certified check or use a wire transfer, Smith sometimes arrives with stacks of shrink-wrapped cash, said my source, who also said Smith once lost some cash that was found later near the swimming pool.
A spokeswoman for Smith admitted, “He goes to Vegas. He’s a high roller.” But she denied that he carries around stacks of hundred-dollar bills or that he ever misplaced the cash, saying, “Those are fabrications.”
In 2015, Smith famously spent $300,000 on a steak dinner in Vegas after after a huge blackjack win during the Consumer Electronics Show.
Smith, who lives on a $23 million estate in Santa Monica, Calif., is unloading some real estate holdings. Variety reports he recently listed a $4.5 million house in the nearby Pacific Palisades, and appeared to find a buyer for his $5.85 million Tribeca apartment.
An MGM spokesman told me, “We don’t comment on our guests.”
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