The Robin Hood of Las Vegas

Posted on: June 9th, 2021

So what on earth has an American professional gambler got to do with a famous folk hero from Nottingham in England I hear you ask? Well, this is the incredible story of RobinHood702, who wins money in the casinos of Las Vegas and gives his winnings to poor families in need of financial assistance.

This might sound like the plot of a film, and if Hollywood producers have anything to do with it, it soon might be, but this is a true story and this guy’s good deeds have become part of Vegas legend. The generous gambler kept his identity a secret for years, with his face always in shadow during interviews. However the mystery man was revealed to be Robert “RJ” Cipriani and he’s become pretty high profile after helping the FBI to take down a gambling and drugs ring – but that’s another story!

RJ is an elite Vegas high roller who has won and lost six figure sums within a single night. After becoming wealthy through his Blackjack prowess, he decided that it was time to give something back to people who were less fortunate, and that has been his ongoing mission since, earning him the ‘Robin Hood’ moniker. “I’m going to take the dark side associated with gambling and use it for good,” he said. “I always loved the film Robin Hood, particularly the original with Errol Flynn… I thought if Robin could do that all those years ago I could do something similar in Vegas. I called myself RobinHood702. The 702 is the postcode for Las Vegas.”

As well as funding the food bill for several homeless rescue missions, RJ continued his philanthropy by setting up a website, www.robinhood702.com, which invited people with financial struggles to be granted money to help them out of their situation. Over the years, people from every corner of the globe have contacted him, and it was not unusual to receive up to 300 applications per day. He estimates that so far he has given away in excess of $1million to deserving families in the 40-something years he’d been playing in Vegas!

To get the money, RJ took a trip to Las Vegas each year to win enough to help a lucky recipient. One of the families to benefit from his unique gift was the Kegler family, who had been left with a crushing debt as a result of overwhelming medical bills. “You have been chosen,” RJ told the Keglers. “I’m flying you to Vegas, and I’m going to win your money for you.”

Kurt and Megan Kegler’s three-year-old daughter, Madison, was diagnosed with a brain tumour and they were consequently $35,000 (£21,000) in the red having paid out for vital drugs. After hearing their story, RJ flew the Keglers out to Las Vegas, treating them to first class flights and putting them up in a luxurious five star suite at the Palazzo hotel. He also took them out to shows, bought them expensive meals and spa treatments. “Most people can only dream the sort of lifestyle I have: Jets to fly me to casinos, staying in 8,000sq floor penthouse apartments, so I wanted to give them a taste of what it is like,” RJ said.

Kurt said: “It was just mind blowing. He brought us to Vegas and we were ferried round in a Rolls-Royce… You hear so much about bad people these days, but he is really one of the good guys.” Mr Kegler, 48, and his wife, 29, watched RJ stake massive amounts of his own money at the blackjack table, and for a while it didn’t look good, as he lost more than (the equivalent of) £200,000. However, thankfully he hit a winning streak and, when he had won $35,000 he quit the table, handing over the giant bag of hundred dollar chips to the astonished Keglers. “It completely changed everything,” Mrs Kegler said.

RJ obviously gained a lot of pleasure from helping the family and said, “Just seeing their faces and knowing that they were no longer going to be in debt was worth it. After leaving them I went back to my room and just cried. It was so satisfying knowing that I have helped someone, and perhaps changed their lives… It would be easier just to hand them money but by using my skills as a blackjack player it means that I have earned the money by doing my job.”

And how did little Madison get on after her parents received the $35,000 to clear their debts? Amazingly, she was given a clean bill of health following an MRI scan. Megan Kegler explained, “It came back clear… they could find her surgery site, but they found nothing that resembled a tumour. So that was a little miracle.” Mrs Kegler also said that RJ had kept in touch with the family to see how Madison was getting on. “Here and there we’ll get a phone call from him seeing how things are,” she said. “He likes to check up on us.”

RJ also wants to spread his message and get more people on board and has tried to persuade some of his billionaire friends to join him in helping him make peoples’ dreams come true. He’s already got a few people on board and said, “I call them my Merry Men. There is a New York billionaire, Stewart Rahr, who has said he wants to join in what I’m doing… People who have got money should spread it around to those less fortunate. That was the ideal of Robin Hood and what he did all those hundreds of years ago we can do today… I hope to inspire other philanthropists. How great would it be to have a thousand Robin Hoods helping out?”

Many people want to know why he has gone to such great lengths to help strangers. What’s in it for him? In reply, he has simply said that he hoped it would make his mother proud. “That’s why I do it,” he said. “You’ve got to give back, because like that, everything can go that you have, so why not give back to families in need and create good karma for yourself? I want to be thrilled and I want other people to be thrilled.” What a fantastic guy – no wonder he’s hailed as a Vegas hero. ‘Sin City’? More like ‘Saint Central’. Keep up the good work RJ!

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