NBC News reports that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock won a lot of money gambling, at least in 2015:
IRS records show that Paddock was a successful gambler, earning at least $5 million in 2015. Some of that could be from other investments, but most of it was from gambling, officials say.
It’s an intriguing factoid, but it raises as many questions as it answers. Other reports have said Paddock preferred to play video poker when he gambled but was not an expert player. (Even though video poker is just a computer game—i.e. not one like real poker in which you can take money off of rubes by playing skillfully—some gamblers say it’s possible to win real money playing it if you can find machines set up with friendly parameters and play them at high speeds with perfectly optimized strategy.) And a quick perusal of gambling sites suggests that netting $5 million in one year on video poker, even as an expert, would be an extremely rare achievement.
However: Gamblers can report both winnings and losses to the IRS. It’s not clear from NBC’s report whether the $5 million figure is net or gross winnings. The number might simply tell us that Paddock churned through a lot of money while gambling. And while one could speculate that perhaps this year he had been unlucky and suffered a series of losses, it’s been five days since the shooting and no evidence has emerged to suggest Paddock was actually in trouble financially. Nor, of course, is there an obvious causal relationship between having money problems and shooting into a crowd. We’re not necessarily any closer to understanding why Paddock committed such an nightmarish act than we were on Sunday night.