Terrance Watanabe is one of the biggest whales in Las Vegas history. This Omaha mogul gambled away over 200 million dollars in a single year. His story has been re-told and mistold several times, but here’s the details so you can piece this high-roller’s life together. You can find even more information on this over at Spinathon.
Harry Watanabe founded the Oriental Trading Company in 1932 which meant to start out as a gift shop. With time, the company expanded and there were 17 shops throughout the Midwestern US. Fast forward to 1977 and Terrance Watanabe cashed in more than $300 million annually. He later sold the company in 2000 and shortly developed a love for gambling.
The beginning of the end
2007 started all of Watanabe’s financial problems. He was staying at Caesars Palace at the time and had almost 100% control of the establishment. What Watanabe wants goes. It’s said that he had the power to reassign employees by putting in a request for that if he didn’t like that particular employee. Some say that Watanabe could also get away with things like harassing female employees since he was a whale.
Mr. Watanabe’s losses constituted a shocking 5.6% of the company’s revenues for the year-money that went into the World Series of Poker events.
Watanabe left Sin City broke with a 14.75 million dollar debt. Caesar’s ultimately sued Watanabe, who later claimed that the casino would give him pain meds and alcohol to keep him at the tables. Watanabe also claimed that he was not refunded his 30% losses cut, which is customary for all whales. A year after, both parties agreed to settle the matter privately. Apparently, Watanabe paid Caesars $100,000 of the 14.75 million he owed.
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Mr. Watanabe’s story shows you that high rollers really aren’t safe and can’t be sure that casinos have their best interest at heart. The glitz and glamour are nothing but a blind eye the casino casts over the whales because ultimately, the casinos need them more than they do them. They do take money from whales so there’s no way they’d expect to find friends at a casino. Watanabe learned this the hard way and served as an example for other high rollers out there. If you are an aspiring whale, remember to put yourself first and be smart about it. No one’s got your back but you.