What Did He Do?

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It’s probably just a detail in a horrific story, rather than something that will be critical to understanding it. But I wanted to flag one aspect of the story. What did Stephen Paddock do for a living? And where did he get his money?

There have been reports, though not really confirmed, that he was actually a wealthy man, perhaps a real investor. He wired his girlfriend $100,000 a week ago. He also reportedly rented a series of condos over another outdoor concert that he had apparently considered attacking before choosing this country music concert. Those certainly suggest a decent amount of liquid assets, though if you knew you were about to end your life a middle-class person could likely sell things and come up with that amount of cash.

The Washington Post says “He liked to bet big, wagering tens of thousands of dollars in a sitting. He owned homes in four states but preferred staying in casino hotels, sometimes for weeks at a time, as he worked the gambling machines.” Card counters and professional card players can win over time at casinos. But most people don’t. And it doesn’t sound like Paddock did the kind of gambling where you can win, over time.

There’s also this new AP story which seems to suggest he hadn’t been employed in almost thirty years. According to this timeline, he worked for the post office from 1976 to 1978. He graduated college in 1977. He worked as an IRS agent from 1978 to 1984. He then worked for a defense auditing job for a year and a half. The AP also says he “worked for a defense contractor in the late 1980s.”

I haven’t seen any specific statement that he was not employed for the last 25 to 30 years. That Post article I mentioned above says that family members say he was worth more than $2 million, that “he made a small fortune from real estate deals and a business that he and Eric Paddock sold off.”

Here’s the thing though, the Post describes a gambling habit that seems hard to reconcile with being worth just two million dollars.

Here’s another passage …

“It’s like a job for him. It’s a job where you make money,” said Eric Paddock, adding that his brother could lose $1 million and still have enough to live on. “He was at the hotel for four months one time. It was like a second home.”

He recalled one time when the entire family took over the top floor of the Atlantis at the casino’s expense.

His brother was very particular about the games he played. “It had to be the right machine with double points, and there has to be a contest going on. He won a car one time,” Eric Paddock said.

“He’s known. He’s a top player. He’s the small end of the big fish.”

I’m not a gambler. I lack some gene that makes it interesting. I don’t know a great deal about it. But I do know that the house wins. That’s the business. There are certain games with an element of skill where you can win. But on machines? That doesn’t sound right to me. Casinos roll out the red carpet for very rich people who like to gamble for high stakes. It sounds like Paddock was one of those people. But again, I think you need to be worth a lot more than $2 million to gamble like that for a long time.

Read through that Post article it sounds like Paddock gambled for high stakes a lot. He also had multiple residential properties around the country. There is apparently a huge amount of travel. As I said, this probably doesn’t have an immediate connection to the crime. And regardless of what Paddock did or how he got his money, it won’t bring anyone back to life. But something pretty substantial seems missing from this story.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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