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Problem Gambler To Challenge Las Vegas Casinos

9/12/2009
A Nebraska-based businessman who blew nearly $127 million in a year-long Vegas gambling binge has accused two casinos of plying him with drink and prescription drugs to facilitate his losses.

The billionaire entrepreneur Terrance Watanabe claimed that he wagered more than $825 million during the 12-month betting spree, of which $127 million was lost at Caesars Palace and the Rio casinos during 2007.

The incredible losing streak – thought to be the biggest in Vegas history – is said to have provided the parent company of both casinos, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., with around 5.6 percent of its total gambling revenue for the year and the organisation and Mr Watanabe have since become embroiled in a legal battle over his outstanding debt.

After refusing to pay-off the final $14 million instalment of his huge arrears, Mr Watanabe has been charged with four felony counts and could face up to 28 years in prison should he be convicted. However, the well-known philanthropist has issued counter-claims in a Clark County District Court accusing the casinos of fuelling his streak by allowing him to continue gambling while clearly intoxicated.

“It’s a tragedy, Mr Watanabe is a tragedy,” said the businessman’s lawyer Pierce O’Donnell in an interview with Good Morning America. “He was so addicted and so out of it, he didn’t really realize what was going on”.
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