Posts Tagged ‘gambling addiction’

The Biggest Casino Loser in History; And Harrah’s Still Wants More

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Is toy magnate Terry Watanabe a victim of Harrah's?

Is toy magnate Terry Watanabe a victim of Harrah's?

Next time you experience a string of bad luck at an online casino, just tell yourself it could have been much worse. You could have experienced the fate of Terry Watanabe – the 52 year-old owner of Oriental Trading Company, and long time high-stakes (some would say high risk) gambler who could be forced to pay up nearly $15 million in gambling debt to Harrah’s Casino Inc.

Considered the “biggest loser” in the history of casino gambling, Terry Watanabe lost over $204 million to Harrah’s over the years, and apparently, still owes them another $15 million. While that’s no small chunk of change by no means, considering the bucket loads of cash Watanabe has hitherto thrown away at Harrah’s-owned Vegas casinos, the news that Harrah’s has filed for a civil court case (set to begin July 12th), is a little surprising.

Normally when a losing whale the likes of Watanabe owes money to a casino, anything outstanding – especially if it’s in dispute – would be written off by the casino. However, in today’s economy, $15 million goes a very, very, very long way. There is no doubt that Harrah’s is facing very tough times of their own, doing their best to turn a profit in a city that has been steadily losing gambling revenue for the last two years.

Whale or no whale, Harrah’s wants Watanabe to pay up. Whether he will be forced to do so remains to be seen. Watanabe has already retaliated with a lawsuit of his own, claiming that he was regularly doused up with drugs and alcohol (by Harrah’s management perhaps), only to be let loose on the casino floor thereafter. While there is certainly no crime to drink and gamble, it is against the rules to allow intoxicated people to gamble. Apparently, there’s proof to back up this claim. According to Watanabe’s defense attorney, a Caesar’s Palace Casino security guard is ready to testify that he never saw Watanabe in a sober state while on the casino floor.

One thing is for sure – Terry Watanabe was no smart gambler – sober or intoxicated. A personal handler for Watanabe (again, at Caesar’s Palace) is on record saying, “He (Watanabe) made such bad decisions at the blackjack table”, citing that he’d regularly bet $50,000 hands using no strategy. Needless to say, Blackjack is one of the few games in the casino that can be played with odds-improving strategy. Other casino games of choice for Watanabe included Slots and Craps.

The Craps table was especially home to many a show performed by Terry Watanabe. Drawing crowds who apparently would come to the casino just to watch Watanabe wager seriously high stakes and dish out $20,000 tips to dealers, Watanabe no doubt made a spectacle on the casino floor. As much as Harrah’s and the floor “fans” would have liked Watanabe to pay his debts and keep coming back, it looks like they will have to settle for David Copperfield from now on. If convicted, Watanabe could face up to 16 years in prison.