Police investigating Stephen Paddock’s murder spree in Las Vegas on Monday face a perplexing question: What drove this seemingly ordinary ex-accountant to kill 59 people and injure 527 more?
With no criminal convictions – or even parking tickets – to his name, no history of mental illness and no clear political or religious affiliations, Paddock seems like an ordinary, quietly prosperous real estate speculator.
But he did have one dark side: A gambling obsession that saw him splashing tens of thousands of dollars in Vegas casinos in the weeks before his murder-suicide spree.
Could this have driven Paddock to madness and ultimately murder?
Stephen Paddock (seen left and right) went from an unremarkable man to a mass murderer in Las Vegas this weekend. Only his addiction to gambling made the real estate owner stand out
Paddock opened fire from these windows in the Mandalay Bay Resort. Paddock lived 90 miles out from Vegas and had blown more than $10,000 a day over weeks leading up to the shooting
Paddock opened fire on a country music festival – something that has baffled those who knew him, including his brother, who believed Paddock had millions – but was addicted to gambling
Paddock had worked for a predecessor company of defense contractor Lockheed Martin from 1985-88 and been an accountant before he retired.
But he made most of his money – around $2 million, according to relatives, The Washington Post reported – in real estate, his brother Eric said.
With no children and two amicable divorces at his back, Paddock began to occupy his time with gambling – both in Las Vegas and online.
In fact, it eventually became a major source of income.
‘It’s like a job for him. It’s a job where you make money,’ Eric Paddock said. ‘He was at the hotel for four months one time. It was like a second home.’
‘He’s known,’ he added. ‘He’s a top player. He’s the small end of the big fish.’
One time, Eric said, their entire family took over the top floor of Reno’s Atlantis Casino Resort Spa – at the casino’s expense.
He’d also been given a ‘Seven Stars’ designation in all Caesar’s Entertainment casino properties – an invitation-only status given to the top-spending frequent gamblers, NBC reported.
Eric Paddock (pictured) said Stephen was addicted to poker and slot machines, and was one of the ‘big fish’ in gambling. Casinos would treat their entire family to free rooms, he said
Melbourne, Florida, resident Don Judy told CNN that Paddock had owned a property next to him from 2013-2015.
He said Paddock ‘was a gambler and a speculator’ who gave them keys to the home and asked them to keep an eye on it, since he wouldn’t be around much.
‘He told us that [he was a gambler] right up front, since he was from Vegas,’ Judy said.
‘He did a little online gambling and he also did it in Vegas. And that was one reason he was going back and forth to keep the gambling going, and he did it online here.’
When Paddock was in the Florida home, he was rarely seen because he was up all night gambling, Judy said.
Judy’s wife added that he once showed her a photo of a slot machine on which he’d won $20,000.
Eric said Paddock had done a similar thing with him, showing him a photo of a $40,000 slot machine win.
He also said that his brother had enjoyed playing high-stakes poker with $100 hands.
Eric didn’t know whether his brother was suffering financial issues or had gambling debts and speculated that he could lose $1 million and still have enough to live on.
Paddock also had two planes registered to his name.
But in the weeks before his meticulously planned and terrifying attack, Paddock had gambled more than $10,000 a day – sometimes even more than $30,000 – in Las Vegas casinos.
That information came from someone who had seen Paddock’s Multiple Currency Transaction Reports (CTR) and a casino gaming executive, NBC reported.
A CTR is a report that casinos must file for ‘each transaction in currency involving cash-in and cash-out of more than $10,000 in a gaming day,’ according to the IRS.
The reports don’t say whether he lost the money or not.
Paddock did have at least one confirmed debt to his name, albeit a small one,NBC also reported.
He owed court fees from a court case he lost in 2014, to the tune of $270. He’d attempted to sue the the Cosmopolitan Hotel for $100,000 after saying he slipped there in 2011.
Video footage showed him falling, the arbitrator said, but also showed 20 other customers and a custodian walking there, none of whom ‘appear to have noticed anything on the floor [or] tried to avoid a wet area.’
The suit was dismissed as being ‘without merit’.
People scramble for shelter at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on Sunday as Paddock opens fire on the crowd of 22,000 people