High Rollers & Hard Falls: Terrence Watanabe’s $204 Million Gamble

Terrence Watanabe

Terrence Watanabe inherited a successful party supply business from his dad and used it to become one of the biggest gamblers (and losers) in Las Vegas history.

Watanabe became the president (and a partial owner) of Oriental Trading Company in 1977. He made some changes to the business and sold his stake in 2000, at which point he retired and got heavy into gambling.

He became a regular at casinos and was given perks like concert tickets, expensive air fare, and lots of credit at casino gift shops. He also received cash back incentives for high stakes games.

Watanabe’s gambling habits soon spiraled out of control. He developed a preference for games with high house edges, such as roulette and slots. He would often play for hours on end, sometimes wagering up to $100,000 per hand or spin. He was also known to drink heavily and use drugs while gambling.

In 2007, Watanabe reached his peak of gambling losses. He reportedly dropped over $800 million at Caesar’s Palace and The Rio, losing $127 million of it. He somehow got banned from Wynn Las Vegas for gambling too much, and is estimated to have lost about $204 million in his gambling career.

He was sued by Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation for failing to pay back $14.7 million in gambling debts. He was also charged criminally with four counts of felony theft and for writing a bad check. Watanabe claimed he wasn’t responsible for his losses because the casino allowed him to gamble while intoxicated, which is illegal in Nevada. He also accused the casino of luring him with false promises and manipulating him with drugs and alcohol.

The lawsuit and the criminal charges were eventually settled in 2010, with Watanabe agreeing to pay an undisclosed amount to Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation.

Watanabe went from being one of the richest people in Nebraska to being broke and sick. He announced in 2017 that he had prostate cancer and launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $100,000 for an operation. He also sold the rights to his story to a media company in 2022.

Watanabe said that he had accepted his situation and did not pity himself. He hoped that people would forgive him for his past and help him live long enough to help others in the future. He also said that he had learned from his mistakes and had stopped gambling altogether.

Written by Pete

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