Courtesy Robin Hood 702
Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 | 2:01 a.m.
- Bellagio bandit gets $1.5 million in gambling chips (12-14-2010)
Robber Flees the Bellagio
Metro News Conference
- Police are urging anyone with information about the Bellagio robbery to contact the Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 or www.crimestoppersofnv.com.
Map of Bellagio Resort and Casino
3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S. , Las Vegas
Who is Robin Hood 702?
- “Robin Hood 702” is a man in his 40s who says he "lives all over." He considers himself a professional gambler and uses his winnings to help families in debt, generally in the range of $25,000 to $50,000. His Maid Marion, a Brazilian model who calls herself "Lady Greice," usually accompanies him.
- His story checks out. Salon owner and celebrity hairdresser Michael Boychuck, Barry Dakake, the executive chef at the N9NE Steak House at the Palms, and the Sun’s own larger-than-life Robin Leach have vouched for him.
- Camera crews first documented his generosity in 2008. He’s been featured on Fox News multiple times, written about in the UK's Daily Mail and was recently profiled in a local magazine.
- Some notable cases have been assistance for families like the Kegler family from Detroit: He won $35,000 for them after they racked up considerable debt paying for their toddler daughter’s treatment for a brain tumor. He also offered Capt. Richard Phillips, the American freighter captain who was held by pirates off the coast of Somalia in April 2009, and his crew aboard the Maersk Alabama, an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas in order to recognize their heroics.
- His website, robinhood702.com, makes the following promise: “This is not a joke or a scam. This is one man trying to make a difference in the lives of deserving Americans, hoping others will do the same.”
The armed robbery at the Bellagio last week of $1.5 million in chips reads like a movie script: In a matter of just a few minutes, a helmeted motorcyclist strolls into the swanky Las Vegas Strip resort, brandishes a gun and sweeps up chips in denominations as high as $25,000 from a craps table before riding away on his black sport bike.
Well, Danny Ocean, meet Robin Hood.
The script now has a subplot thanks to a man who says he tries to do good in Las Vegas and likens himself to the folk hero from Nottingham.
The Dec. 14 Bellagio robbery sparked outrage in the high-stakes blackjack player who goes by the moniker “Robin Hood 702,” prompting him to offer a $50,000 reward for the return of the stolen chips and the arrest and conviction of the bandit.
The Sun has agreed to keep Robin Hood 702’s identity anonymous. He says he keeps his name a secret because his motives are charitable; he doesn’t want to appear as though his large-scale gifts, which have been reported in national media outlets since he started helping needy families with his winnings in 2008, are a stunt to gain celebrity status.
Robin Hood says the bandit, who police described as white and about 5-feet-10-inches tall, about 220 pounds and wearing a white motorcycle helmet with multiple stripes and a black jacket, black pants and black gloves, victimized not only the Bellagio, but Las Vegas as a whole.
“I’m just trying to find this guy and stop any copycats,” Robin Hood said during an interview this week with the Sun. “If the Bellagio was hit, the Palazzo could be hit, the Venetian, the MGM Grand … it could be every casino. This guy has to be apprehended quickly.
“These are desperate times. People are going to say, ‘Why don’t I take a shot?’”
The robbery was over in a matter of minutes. No arrests have been made in the case but police say the investigation remains ongoing.
The robber never fired his weapon; security officers, reportedly concerned that he might shoot and worried for the safety of patrons in the area, didn’t attempt to apprehend him. He walked out the door he came in with a backpack full of chips and the ire of at least one Las Vegas gambler.
Despite his anonymous nature, Robin Hood is no stranger to the spotlight. He uses his website -- www.robinhood702.com -- as a way for people all over the world to submit their pleas for assistance with crushing debt, often a result of overwhelming medical bills. Whoever Robin Hood chooses to help gets an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas and the opportunity to watch him win their money at the blackjack tables.
Even if he loses, he still pays off at least half their debt.
“I try to help as many people as I can,” Robin Hood said. “I hope to inspire other philanthropists. How great would it be to have a thousand Robin Hoods helping out?”
As recently as last month, he fronted the bill for a Thanksgiving dinner for the needy at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. In the past, he’s helped families coping with cancer and those caring for elderly relatives. Often followed around by crews from Fox News, he appears on camera with a blurred or shadowy face, usually sporting jeans, a ball cap and sunglasses.
Robin Hood, who of course has a band of merry men; his Maid Marion, who calls herself “Lady Greice;” and a sidekick he calls “Little John,” said he came up with idea for the bounty when traveling to Las Vegas a few days after the robbery.
The safety of Strip casinos was on their minds, so they checked into the Golden Nugget in Downtown Las Vegas. Feeling inspired by their surroundings, the group immediately came up with the plan to offer the reward, he said.
“I decided to put up the bounty at that moment,” he said. “Being in Downtown Vegas, where it all started, was somewhat mentally stimulating and exhilarating to me. Vegas means something to me, that’s why I feel I had to act.”
He says he wants to do good for Las Vegas, the city that helps him help others because, if Las Vegas suffers, his brand of charity suffers as well.
So, will the $50,000 reward help with the investigation?
Lt. Clint Nichols of Metro's robbery section said it was a “very generous offer” and is open to Robin Hood offering the reward through the Crime Stoppers tipline.
“It’s an established program and if Mr. Robin Hood 702 is interested in offering this reward, he can contact us and Crime Stoppers and make that same offer,” Nichols said. “Anybody putting up a reward certainly doesn’t hurt.”
When asked by the Sun about working with Crime Stoppers, Robin Hood seemed skeptical. He said he would reward any tipsters on his own.
Nichols said that police have received a “variety of tips” and, along with the Bellagio, are keeping an eye out for the stolen chips to find their way back to the casino.
“If that merchandise shows back up, we get notified because you have to do something with it. I don’t imagine anybody’s going to take 50-plus $25,000 chips and throw them in the trash,” Nichols said.
So far, the chips have yet to reappear and officials have noted that the bandit would have a hard time cashing them in. Although the specific security measures in place haven’t been detailed, redeeming a high-value chip requires identification at any casino.
Anthony Curtis, publisher of Las Vegas Advisor, an industry newsletter, said many professional gamblers hang onto high-value chips and stash them away as a means to stay off the books, away from the IRS. In light of the heist, anyone cashing in a high-value marker at the Bellagio would certainly raise eyebrows, he said.
“A lot of the $5,000 chips are all over the place, especially with poker players,” Curtis said. “There would be some motivation for a poker player to hope this would get resolved.”
Robin Hood’s game is blackjack. The Sun asked him if the amped up scrutiny of high-value chips was the motivation behind the bounty.
“Not at all,” Robin Hood said. “I’d rather have cash than chips.”
Robin Hood is afraid, he says, of the “what-ifs.” Of how much worse it could have been.
“Imagine if a family or someone was killed in this robbery,” he said. “The Bellagio itself would have been shut down. It would have been a crime scene.
“This literally would have shut down Vegas.”
If the bandit had decided to use the gun during the holdup and it made the news, he said, it would start a downward spiral: no one would feel secure enough to ever visit Las Vegas. Tourism would go down and casinos would suffer. And it would be that much harder for him to do his job.
“This is something where I think the whole town got off lightly,” he said. “This could have been such a tragic event. Thank God no lives were lost.”
Measuring the effect a high-profile incident – for example, the 2007 shootings that wounded four tourists at the New York-New York hotel-casino -- has on casino visitor numbers is almost impossible, UNLV Center for Gaming Research chief David Schwartz said. He didn’t have specific research on the subject but noted that any observations on the topic would be speculative.
It goes practically without saying that tourism is a driving force behind the local economy.
Police have said the robber is likely the same man who robbed the Suncoast casino, 9090 Alta Drive, on Dec. 9. In that robbery, the man robbed a cashier's cage and made off with a less than $20,000. Video surveillance of both incidents was released shortly after the heist.
The robbery at the Suncoast wasn’t publicized until after the Bellagio robbery – the 10th this year in Metro Police’s jurisdiction. Last year, there were nine casino robberies, police said.
Gordon Absher, MGM Resorts International vice president of public affairs, declined to discuss the investigation and wouldn’t comment on whether the $50,000 reward would help or hinder the search for the robber.
He did say he believes the person responsible will be caught.
“We have full faith in the ability of Metro Police to investigate this and apprehend the suspect,” Absher said.
He also wouldn't talk about whether security at the Bellagio or other MGM properties had been enhanced in light of the robbery, but stressed the safety of the resort corridor.
“We constantly learn from new situations,” Absher said. “Las Vegas is a very safe destination. There is more likely to be a higher concentration of security forces -- both personnel and technology -- in this small area than anywhere else short of a military nuclear facility.”
Robin Hood is hoping on that others will hear about his bounty and add their own money into the pot.
“Fifty grand is a lot for someone to have in their pocket. I’m hoping other casinos will kind of add to the bounty and make this an incredible thing,” he said.
Inspired by the beautiful villages of Europe, the AAA Five Diamond Bellagio overlooks a Mediterranean-blue, 8 ½-acre lake, where fountains perform a magnificent aquatic ballet choreographed to music and lights.
Within Bellagio are award-winning dining experiences including two AAA Five Diamond restaurants, Julian Serrano's Picasso and Le Cirque from the renowned Maccioni family.
Bellagio is home to an impressive collection of luxury retailers including Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Breguet, Prada, Fred Leighton, Chanel, Dior, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Hermès and OMEGA.
A world-class art gallery, the exquisite Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, the stunning “O” by Cirque du Soleil, a luxurious spa and salon, dynamic nightlife at The Bank, Hyde Bellagio and Lily Bar & Lounge and an elegant casino all add to the extraordinary Bellagio experience.