This is my daily effort to discover good things people do around the planet. I’m planning to engage in these searches six days a week. I will gladly post your contributions regarding good human behavior, no matter how trivial they may seem to you (or, frankly, to me). Please join me on this trip and tell your friends.


It Has to Be a Scam!

The list of people who are disqualified from testifying in a Jewish court includes dice players and pigeon racers, the two paradigms of today’s gambling industry (San. 24:b). One of the reasons given is that since bettors do not enter the deal in order to pay, but in order to win, taking their money in the end is theft. The other reason given is that gamblers are not engaged in "settling the world," they’re not engaged in productive behavior. This last reason is therefore nullified if the gambler also holds a job.

But what if the gambler dedicates his winnings to the needy? Would he then be considered someone who is, in fact, engaged in settling the world and, therefore, a member in good standing of society? This puzzling thought occurred to me when my wife sent me a link to a Fox News story which was lifted by Huffington Post and titled 'Robin Hood' Gambler Wins Money In Vegas, Gives It All To Those In Need.

A self-made blackjack player who calls himself RobinHood702 (the 702 comes from Las Vegas' area code), finds those in need and wins hundreds of thousands of dollars at casinos, just for them. At, people can upload a video of themselves explaining why they need money. Robin Hood 702, who wishes to remain anonymous, chooses those he deems worthy, flies them out to Vegas, then goes to work.

Here’s the invitation on Robin’s website:
Are you buried in bills? About to lose your home? On the brink of financial ruin? If so, this could be your big break. "Robin Hood 702," a self-made man and expert Blackjack player, wants to use his skills to help you. He will select one deserving family based on their video submission and fly them to Las Vegas, Nevada. Robin Hood 702 will provide an all-expense paid weekend at the Palazzo Resort-Hotel Casino, which includes a true high-roller suite. Show tickets to the hottest shows in town, spa appointments and meals in the city's finest restaurants. You will live like the high roller Robin Hood 702 does, then watch him win the money you need to become debt-free. A Fox News crew will be on hand to document the event.

"Robin Hood 702" guarantees if you're selected, at least half of your bills will get paid, no matter what happens at the Blackjack table.

The anonymous gambler is receiving thousands of requests for help from people with major financial problems. He recently chose a couple from Detroit with a young daughter whose brain cancer put them $35,000 in the red. He flew Kurt, Megan and Madison Kegler to Las Vegas first class, put them up in a luxurious suite, took them to shows, treated them to expensive meals and spa treatments, and in the end was true to his word, handing 35 grand to the couple who went home with newfound hope for the future. ('Robin Hood' Gambler Planning Next Score in Las Vegas, by Rick Leventhal, Fox News)

As a news guy, the first thing that occurred to me was the absence of negative notes on this year-long story. I mean, I could come up with one point just going over the basic reports, which were repeated ad-nauseum: Isn’t it a known thing that a blackjack player who cleans up too often is asked, politely but firmly, to leave the casino’s premises and never show his face again? It’s one of the fundamental scenes in any Las Vegas movie, the scene where our hapless player is spotted on the monitors "counting cards" and is approached by the burly suits. How can this guy keep going, at the same casino, an entire year?

The one critical note about the story came from blogger Neal Boortz, who reacted to the Ronin Hood Gambler story saying that the poor in this country are right where they are because they put themselves there. It wasn't a matter of luck. These people didn't somehow miss the graces of "good fortune." When you ignore your educational opportunities, drink and do drugs, fail to develop a work ethic and constantly blame others for your situation and end up in poverty ... well, you've earned it. Nothing to do with luck.

As to the actual story, other than hating poor people, all Boortz had to say was: Robin Hood did NOT take from the rich and give to the poor. Robin Hood took from the GOVERNMENT and gave to the poor. His whole shtick was taking money from government which had stolen from the people and returning that money to those who earned it. Sorry to bust your bubble here, but Robin Hood had nothing to do with rich and poor. It was about trying to hold government in check.

I’m not so sure that the original Robin Hood medieval ballads were quite that consistent with today’s Tea Party agenda. An introduction to the Robin Hood Project at Rochester University acknowledges: It seems as though every schoolchild knows who Robin Hood is: a noble outlaw in Sherwood Forest who fights the oppressive evil of Prince (or King) John by robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. The earliest appearances of Robin are at odds with this romantic notion, as Robin is a violent yeoman who steals from the dishonest and helps those whom he pleases. (Robin Hood: Development of a Popular Hero)

But wait a minute, even the jaded Neal Boortz accepts Robin Hood as a positive figure, he just prefers that he not dwell too much on the plight of the poor, who have only themselves to blame. But is Robin Hood a good guy? I mean Robin the paradigm, a man who steals from the haves to give to the have-nots, is he at all acceptable to us, much less praiseworthy?

Rabbinic law frowns on any kind of theft, even theft of tax money. Maimonides proclaims that a person who avoids paying (much less steals) a tax fixed by the king, of a third or a quarter of the value of his goods, or any fixed sum, is a transgressor because he is stealing the king’s portion. (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Theft 5:11)

Speaking of kings and portions, I never felt very good about Robin Hood’s loyalty to King Richard the Lionhearted, a crusader who bilked London’s Jews to finance his violent adventures in the Holy Land (killing many Jews in the process). I much prefer Richard’s younger brother, the vilified King John Lackland, enemy of Robin Hood and facilitator of the small and handy document Magna Carta, which changed forever the course of modern government (for the better!).

Back to our Vegas Robin Hood, I’m still amazed the complete absence of any notion of doubt or skepticism regarding this chap. Everything about the story is screaming underhanded ploys, yet nowhere can I find anything but happy repeats of the original Fox story, with few variants. Googling "Vegas Robin Hood scam" yields nothing. I’m like those old inspector types who know the hero is dirty, they just can’t pin anything on him. All I have are my original suspicions that casinos don’t encourage blackjack winners to hang around for long, and that generating a huge interest in Vegas gambling must be good for the industry. But how would you get scammed if you applied for a rescue by this RH702 (his online nickname) and he flies you first class, puts you in a hotel, gets you stuff and finally covers your bills? No idea.

So this is my nugget of goodness this morning, the challenge of accepting the decency and goodwill of a gambler in a story that should reek of lies and grifting and just doesn’t. Can you accept it? Can you see how tough it is to do?

Yori Yanover