But I've also seen the ugly side of gambling, as my brother was headed to Tunica, Miss. to gamble when he was killed. He had $50K in gambling debts at the time, although making over $100K yearly.
I've seen sweet little old ladies whose husbands lost their entire retirement account and home due to gambling debts.
I've seen responsible, normal business managers embezzle thousands from their company to play bingo, of all things!
But This guy wins the prize:
The Gambler Who Blew $127 Million
WSJ Dec. 5, 2009
LAS VEGAS -- During a year-long gambling binge at the Caesars Palace and Rio casinos in 2007, Terrance Watanabe managed to lose nearly $127 million.
The run is believed to be one of the biggest losing streaks by an individual in Las Vegas history. It devoured much of Mr. Watanabe's personal fortune, he says, which he built up over more than two decades running his family's party-favor import business in Omaha, Neb. It also benefitted the two casinos' parent company, Harrah's Entertainment Inc., which derived about 5.6% of its Las Vegas gambling revenue from Mr. Watanabe that year.
Several employees say Mr. Watanabe would stay at the tables for up to 24 hours, sometimes losing as much as $5 million in a single binge. He was allowed to play three blackjack hands simultaneously with a $50,000 limit for each hand. At one point, the casino raised his credit to $17 million, according to court documents.
Mr. Watanabe resided for free in a three-bedroom suite at Caesars, had access to his favorite bartender, drank a special brand of vodka, Jewel of Russia, and was constantly surrounded by attendants to serve his every need, such as a seven-course meal from the casino's Bradley Ogden restaurant delivered to him while he was gambling, according to the court filing and employee accounts.
Ms. Jones says Mr. Watanabe was treated just like any other high-end gambler: "When his requests were appropriate we met them."
In a civil suit filed in Clark County District Court last month, Mr. Watanabe, 52 years old, says casino staff routinely plied him with liquor and pain medication as part of a systematic plan to keep him gambling.
Nevada's Gaming Control Board has opened a separate investigation into whether Harrah's violated gambling regulations, based on allegations made by Mr. Watanabe.
In April, the Clark County District Attorney's office charged Mr. Watanabe with four felony counts in district court for intent to defraud and steal from Harrah's, stemming from $14.7 million that the casino says it extended to him as credit, and that he lost. Although Mr. Watanabe has paid nearly $112 million to Harrah's, he has refused to pay the rest. He denies the charges, alleging that the casino reneged on promises to give him cash back on some losses, and encouraged him to gamble while intoxicated. If convicted, Mr. Watanabe faces up to 28 years in prison.
Jan Jones, Harrah's senior vice president for communications and government relations, says Mr. Watanabe's civil suit and his defense against the criminal charges are attempts to get out of paying a debt and to avoid accepting responsibility for his own actions. "Mr. Watanabe is a criminal defendant who faces imprisonment," Ms. Jones says. "All of his statements need to be seen in that light."
Several former and current Harrah's employees say their managers told them to let Mr. Watanabe continue betting while he was visibly intoxicated, even though casino rules and state law stipulate that anyone who is clearly drunk shouldn't be allowed to gamble. These employees say they were afraid they would be fired if they did anything to discourage Mr. Watanabe from gambling at the casinos.
In 2006, Mr. Watanabe resided primarily at Wynn Resorts' Wynn Las Vegas casino. But, he says, his heavy betting drew the attention of Chief Executive Steve Wynn. After meeting with him in June 2007, Mr. Wynn concluded that he was a compulsive gambler and alcoholic, and barred him from the casino, according to a letter to the Nevada Gaming Control Board drafted by Mr. Watanabe's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell.
Edited by Rogerdodger, 05 December 2009 - 01:05 PM.