When Kurt and Megan Kegler’s phone rang at their mobile home outside Detroit, the future looked grim.
When the mystery gambler was $35,000 up he quit the table, and handed the proceeds to the Keglers in a giant bag of hundred dollar chips .
Their three-year-old daughter, Madison, had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and they were $35,000 (£21,000) in debt.
But when they heard what the caller had to say, they broke down in tears, hardly able to believe their ears. He was a mysterious, high-rolling Las Vegas gambler who had been choosing needy families to give them his winnings. “You have been chosen,” the voice told the Keglers. “I’m flying you to Vegas, and I’m going to win your money for you.” What followed seemed like a dream. A stretch limousine to the airport, first-class flights and a Rolls Royce to their 8,000 square-foot suite in the Palazzo hotel. There, Mr Kegler, 48, and his wife, 29, were met by their benefactor, who promptly staked huge amounts of his own money in a marathon card session.
It wasn’t plain sailing on the blackjack table, despite his confidence: the Keglers saw him go down hundreds of thousands of dollars before he managed to hit a winning streak and recover.
When he was $35,000 up he quit the table, and handed the proceeds to the Keglers in a giant bag of hundred dollar chips. “It completely changed everything,” said Mrs Kegler.
Since the episode a year ago, which has become part of Las Vegas folklore, rumours have swept Sin City about the identity of the secretive card player who wants to give his money away. He is even said to have been spotted handing out hundred dollar bills on the Las Vegas strip.
So who is this gambling Good Samaritan? He calls himself “Robin Hood 702” and runs a website on which he promises to milk the casinos and give the proceeds to the poor. The number 702 refers to the Las Vegas postal code area. Anyone down on their luck is invited to send in their story and, every so often, “Robin” selects someone to help.
The only criterion is that the amount they need must not exceed $50,000 – he isn’t that wealthy. As well as the Keglers, he also recently selected a woman from Charleston, South Carolina, who had run up medical bills caring for her elderly parents and won the $20,000 she needed. In April he offered to pay for a holiday in Las Vegas for the crew of the Maersk Alabama, the US ship attacked by Somali pirates.
Little is known about “Robin”. He has given television interviews, but with his face in shadow. He is known to be teetotal, white and tall. He prefers to dress in jeans and a T-shirt. Casino bosses regard him as a “whale”, one of the elite high rollers for whom nothing is too much trouble. He has won and lost six-figure sums in a single night.
His aim, he says, is simple. “I’m going to take the dark side associated with gambling and use it for good.” He plans to select another hard-up family to help in the New Year and he has plenty to choose from: there have been as many as 300 applications in a single day to his website.
By Nick Allen, in Los Angeles
Published: 11:54PM GMT 26 Dec 2009
Source: The Telegraph