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The man who gambled away over $100 million

Terry Watanabe

Terry Watanabe amassed a noteworthy fortune when he sold his entire stake in his inherited family business, the Oriental Trading Company. With all that time and money on his hands he headed off on a one way trip to Las Vegas that became a tale of excessive drinking, gambling and astronomical losses at Harrah's and various other casinos.

As he enjoyed the high life of being a high roller, Las Vegas casinos slowly drained his fortune. After a single year his gambling had cost him over $200 million. It has been reported that 6% of Harrah's total income for that period can be attributed to Mr Wantabe's gambling, and as a measure of tribute to him they evented a new tier just for him within their loyalty program, Total Rewards, called "Chairman". Of course he was rewarded with a variety of V-VIP perks such as $12,500 a month in air tickets, various free concert tickets and $500,000 in credit at the casino's gift stores. Of course, this is nothing in comparison the money he had spent at the casino.

Wantabe's gambling binge came to an abrupt end once he admitted to his sister that he had a serious problem at a Thanksgiving dinner. Thereafter he entered a treatment facility to be treated for gambling addiction and has reportedly not stepped into another casino since.

His woes unfortunately did not end there; Harrah's sued him when he refused to pay for his losses in full. He agreed to pay $112 million of the reported $200 million sum but refused to pay the rest claiming that Harrah’s fuelled his gambling addictions, knowing that he had an issue. He counter-sued the casino in a civil suit and two weeks before the court date both parties settled, but the outcomes remain confidential.

His gambling run over the year he spent in Las Vegas and the losses he incurred therein are reportedly the biggest that Las Vegas has ever seen.

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