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The Gambler Who Blew $127 Million


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#1 Rogerdodger

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 01:03 PM

I've seen the ugly side of drinking and driving, losing my brother years ago to a repeat drunk driver.
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.

LINK

Edited by Rogerdodger, 05 December 2009 - 01:05 PM.


#2 Lee48

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 02:57 PM

Ouch, he's either the biggest loser or the biggest moron or maybe both... Loser,,,,,,,,,by Beck I'm a driver, I'm a winner things are gonna' change I can feel it Soy un perdedor, I'm a loser baby so why don't you kill me I can't believe it Soy un perdedor, I'm a loser baby so why don't you kill me Soy un perdedor, I'm a loser baby so why don't you kill me Sprechen sie deutsch, baby Soy un perdedor, I'm a loser baby so why don't you kill me You know what I'm sayin'

#3 fib_1618

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 03:15 PM

I've been with Terry at trade shows, and seen him at the tables. We all knew it was just a matter of time before tragedy would strike. Sad to hear it, and Lee, it can happen to the best of us...it's an addiction. Fib

Better to ignore me than abhor me.

Wise men don't need advice. Fools won't take it. - Benjamin Franklin

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#4 Rogerdodger

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 03:43 PM

I used to go to Vegas all the time.
Then we got a zillion casinos here.
But once I saw the damage, they left a bitter taste in my mouth.

What's really sad is the "poor" who are addicted and wind up in jail for embezzlement...and worse:

GamblingHelper.com | Gambling Poker VLT Addiction Help
A woman has confessed that she murdered her parents last week to get their life insurance money for her video-poker addiction, authorities said. ...
Gambling, lotteries, and video poker...legalized theft.
He caught his secretary of seven years in an embezzlement scheme that had cost his company $200000! The reason? Video poker addiction. ..

Concerned Women for America - Video Poker Banned in South Carolina ...
In the process, she has heard many tragic stories of the horror of video poker addiction. She receives more than 20 e-mails every day from people voicing their concerns. One CWA member witnessed a mother illegally selling $100 worth of food stamps for $40. She sold her children's food to feed her habit.

Edited by Rogerdodger, 05 December 2009 - 06:26 PM.


#5 Jnavin

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 04:18 PM

Steve Wynn did the right thing, as usual.

#6 fib_1618

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 04:44 PM

What's really sad is the "poor" who are addicted and wind up in jail for embezzlement...and worse:

The people who come to Atlantic City in bus loads on the weekends with Social Security checks in hand hoping to have a "fun time".

Steve Wynn did the right thing..

Yes, but Hurrah's didn't...I say split the difference.

Fib

Better to ignore me than abhor me.

Wise men don't need advice. Fools won't take it. - Benjamin Franklin

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#7 Jnavin

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 05:24 PM

The drunken, alcoholic gambler is responsible for his actions, but I believe the state's Gaming Commission has "best practices" outlining what to do when this type of behavior is seen in licensed casinos. I won't question Harrah's actions here, but it's just a little bit surprising that they didn't stop this guy earlier than they did. That will be settled in the lawsuit, I presume. It's kind of a judgement call, for sure...but now they endure the PR problem. Jan Laverty Jones of Harrah's is the former Mayor of Las Vegas (pre-Oscar Goodman) and used to run a car dealership in Sin City. In matters of how to deal with certain casino situations, I would take Steve's judgement over Jan's any day of the year.

Edited by Jnavin, 05 December 2009 - 05:34 PM.


#8 Lee48

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 05:54 PM

I've been with Terry at trade shows, and seen him at the tables.

We all knew it was just a matter of time before tragedy would strike.

Sad to hear it, and Lee, it can happen to the best of us...it's an addiction.

Fib


Yeah, there's plenty of weakness to go around or is in all of us. But like Forrest Gump says,

Forrest lives in a world that derides him as stupid but, as Mrs Gump says, "stupid is as stupid does",

#9 Rogerdodger

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 06:37 PM

I've been with Terry at trade shows, and seen him at the tables.


I was playing $5 craps at Rio in Vegas and a guy walked up and asked for a marker for "One Hundred."
I assumed he wanted $100 and thought that they would not waste their time with him.

But he wanted and got a $100,000 marker (casino loan).
He lost $15,000 in a roll or two and changed tables.
I ordered a free bourbon and Coke and tipped the waitress $1.

Guess I'm no whale. And that's ok.

#10 porsche911sg

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 09:39 PM

I refused to go to any outlets offering gambling where the chance of winning are nearly zero. Gone to las vagas but no casinos for me. I've never put a dime on any casinos, lucky tickets or any thing of such sort.
The market catches almost everyone on the wrong side. We always seem to get fake break out before that huge dump or the hugh dump before the false break down! Trade Safe!