Gambled on One Roll of Dice After Losing Gay Lover : Man Who Lost $1-Million Bet Kills Self

United Press International

A Texas gambler who put down a losing $1-million bet on a single roll of the dice because he was despondent over the loss of his male lover left a suicide note saying he wanted to be remembered as the “phantom gambler at the Horseshoe” Casino.

William Lee Bergstrom, 33, of La Grange, Tex., died of an apparent drug overdose, officials said today. A maid found the body Monday in his room at the Marina Hotel on the strip.

Police said Bergstrom had swallowed the contents of various unidentified capsules and that a suicide note was found at the scene.


Bergstrom lost his $1-million bet last Nov. 16 at the Horseshoe in the largest single wager in Nevada history.

Casino manager Ted Binion, who had befriended Bergstrom after he won $777,000 and $538,000 at the Horseshoe with single rolls of the dice in the last four years, said he spoke with the gambler Sunday night.

“He told me he bet a million dollars because he was despondent about the guy (John, his former lover). He was the biggest bettor of all time. There won’t be one bigger.”

Binion said Bergstrom’s suicide note asked that the urn containing his ashes be engraved with an epitaph identifying him as the “phantom gambler at the Horseshoe who bet a million dollars.”

Bergstrom arrived incognito at the Horseshoe in November with two suitcases. One was empty and the other contained about $700,000. The gambler gave Binion about $300,000 in several cashier’s checks to bring the total to $1 million.

While security guards held back a crowd, Bergstrom put his $1 million on the even-money “don’t pass” line, where the gambler is betting that the player rolling the dice will lose.


When the shooter rolled a winning seven on the first throw, the $1 million was lost.

Binion said Bergstrom told him he had owned an apartment building in the Austin, Tex., area in the mid-1970s and had lost money in the silver and gold market. He said bankers loaned Bergstrom $777,000 in 1980 to buy gold. Instead, he bet the money on one roll at the crap table and won. He paid back the bankers and pocketed the profit.