Watanabe Loses $127 Million

Terrance Watanabe

In 2007, high-roller toy-magnate turned philantropist Terrance Watanabe reportedly lost a staggering amount of money in just one year in Las Vegas, the equivalent of almost 950 million rand. The casinos where Watanabe incurred much of these enormous losses were the Rio and Caesar’s Palace, both owned by Harrah’s Entertainment. Other Vegas patrons who witnessed Watanabe playing reported that he became a spectacle, with people stopping to watch him make reckless decisions playing roulette, slot machines, and blackjack, where he would ineptly play three hands simultaneously at a $50,000 limit table.

Watanabe has paid $112 million (840M rand) of his gambling debts, but refuses to pay back the remaining $14,7 million (108M rand) and now possibly faces 16 years in jail for his outstanding debt. According to Watanabe, who aside from his gambling addiction had alcohol problems as well, it is not surprising that his gambling decisions were as disastrous as they were, considering that he was regularly plied with alcohol and provided with drugs by Harrah’s Entertainment, who derived no less than 5.6% of their revenues in 2007 from Watanabe alone. Harrah’s claims Watanabe is merely trying to get out from under his criminal case by shifting the blame onto the casino. Watanabe’s lawyer put forward names of casino staff who could testify that Watanabe was always intoxicated while gambling, and also claims that Harrah’s is doing their best to intimidate witnesses.

Though encouraging an obviously intoxicated gambler to continue playing could result in disciplinary action against the Rio and Caesar’s Palace, including revoking their licences, Nevada casino regulators are not willing to investigate the case further until Watanabe’s case is closed. One suggestive piece of evidence, however, is that Steve Wynn, another Las Vegas casino owner banned Watanabe from gambling at his casinos because he recognized that Watanabe was a complusive gambler and alcoholic.

Watanabe’s trial is due to take place in July.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.