Ex-gaming executive Aziz gets time in federal prison for college admission scam

Former gaming executive Gamal Aziz, who spent more than 20 years overseeing foreign and U.S. casino expansion for MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts, was sentenced to federal prison Wednesday following his conviction in October for participating in a nationwide college admissions scandal.

Aziz, 64, was ordered by a federal judge to serve one year and one day in federal prison and pay a $250,000 fine following his conviction by a jury in a Boston courtroom in October on two counts of conspiracy.

Aziz, who once held top-level executive positions with the gaming companies, was one of 57 people charged in the “Varsity Blues” conspiracy in which wealthy parents schemed with a college recruiter to create fraudulent college profiles in order to enroll their children in high-profile universities.  

Aziz was convicted after prosecutors said he paid $300,000 in bribes during 2018 to get his daughter enrolled into the University of Southern California as a basketball player.

Aziz left the gaming industry in September 2016 when he resigned from his position as president of Wynn Macau. He spent three years with Wynn Resorts as the president of development, overseeing foreign and domestic expansion opportunities.

Prior to joining Wynn, Aziz spent 18 years with MGM Resorts, including 13 years as president of MGM Grand Las Vegas and five years as president of MGM Hospitality, where he oversaw the company’s non-gaming international expansion.

According to Reuters, Aziz – who was listed in the complaint by his given name Gamal Adbelaziz – asked U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton to show mercy for his family's sake and sentence him to just four months.

The judge, however, said Aziz showed a "lack of integrity, morality and common sense" for taking part in the scandal.

Aziz was the first defendant to go to trial in the bribery scandal that was uncovered in 2019. Prosecutors and federal law enforcement officials filed hundreds of charges against the parents, including Hollywood celebrities and wealthy financial executives, alleging they had conspired with California college admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer to fraudulently secure college placement for their children.

Forty-seven of the 57 defendants, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, pleaded guilty to reduced charges, paying fines with minimal jail time. The longest sentence any parent pleading guilty has received was nine months. Aziz, who pleaded not guilty, was convicted along with private equity firm founder John Wilson.

Aziz was alleged to have bribed a senior associate athletic director at USC in order to help his daughter get recruited by the USC basketball team and facilitate her admission to the university.

He is alleged to have paid a $300,000 donation to USC’s gift account for the Galen Center, the arena for USC’s basketball and volleyball programs, and $20,000 per month in payments to the senior associate athletic director.

Aziz, a native of Egypt, is currently listed as chairman and CEO of Legacy Hospitality Group, according to his LinkedIn page.

His attorney said he would appeal the conviction.