Biggest gambler becomes biggest loser
From a fortunate company owner to Las Vegas’s biggest gambler. One person managed to do this. Harry Watanabe opened a gift shop, the Oriental Trading Company, in 1932. He managed to grow it into one of the biggest companies in its market. In 1977, his son, Terry Watanabe, inherited the company from his father. Later, in 2000, Terry sold his full share in the company to a private equity company. Terry received a huge fortune on this sale, which later sparked his drinking and gambling addiction. This resulted in astronomical losses at several Harrah’s casinos in Vegas.
It started in 2007 when Watanabe traveled to Las Vegas for a holiday. He never left and lived there for a couple of years. The millionaire enjoyed the benefits of his high roller status and the casinos slowly drained his big bank account. It was an adventure that would ultimately cost him over 200 million dollars! In that year, 6% of the total Las Vegas gambling revenue came from Harrah’s thanks to Terry Watanabe. He bet so much that Harrah’s even invented a new tier in their Total Rewards program that was especially for him and they called it the “Chairman”. Watanabe enjoyed various privileges like $ 12,500 per month for airline tickets, free concert tickets, and $ 500,000 on credit space in the gift shop. That’s a nice bonus for losing $ 200 million! We can call this a big bonus out of his own pocket.
Watanabe confessed his exorbitant addiction eventually to his sister during a Thanksgiving visit. She brought him back to Omaha and he went to a clinic to get rid of his addiction. Since then he has neverset foot in a casino, but unfortunately this was not the end of the story.
Lawsuit over losses
Harrah’s complained to Watanabe after refusing to pay back all of his losses. He was willing to pay $ 112,000,000 but claimed that Harrah’s encouraged his addiction and also providing him with alcoholic drinks on during his gambling sprees. Harrah’s staff stated that Watanabe sometimes managed to gamble five million dollar in a single day, where he was gambling 24 hours in a row.
Mr Watanabe fought the allegations and in 2010 there would be a case before the court. However, during a confidential meeting, two weeks before the lawsuit it was decided by both parties to drop all claims. Terry Watanabe’s year-long gambling marathon is considered to be the biggest losing streak by an individual in the history of Las Vegas.