I really don’t know how much 127 million dollars is. I mean, I know the number in an abstract way but I cannot even begin to wrap my head around how much money, real money it actually is. When I try to think of that sum, I think about Scrooge McDuck swimming around in his gold coins. So, Terrance Watanabe’s story is really unbelievable to me. In 2007, he went on a gambling downward spiral that made him lose an insane chunk of his family’s fortune at the Caesars Palace and Rio casinos.
In an even more surprising turn of events, Watanabe decided to sue Harrah’s entertainment, the owner of these two casinos, claiming that he was manipulated into continuing gambling under the effects of alcohol and unprescribed pain medication supplied by his casino hosts. This, under Nevada Law, is illegal. Harrah’s, of course denies the claim and fires back by saying that Mr. Watanabe is trying to use this tactic to avoid responsibility from his horrendous gambling decisions.
Terry Watanabe has never had a normal life. His father, Henry Watanabe, came to Omaha from Japan and started the Oriental Trade Company in 1932. The company started as a gift shop for party favors that are given in carnivals, parties, etc. Little by little, Henry transformed the company into an import business that would grow to be the biggest dealer in the carnival supply world market.
Following Japanese tradition, Henry Watanabe offered the company to his first born son Terrance on his fifteenth birthday. By the time that he was 20, Terry was already chief executive of the company. What’s more, Terry managed to grow the company to a 300 million dollar a year empire by shifting the focus of it to party favors and the like. He demonstrated great instinct when it came to choosing the products the market was going to respond to.
The problem was that Terry had no life other than his company. He had no family of his own, no significant other. According to his sister Pamela, the company completely consumed him. In the year 2000, Watanabe sold the company to Brentwood Associates and retired as a mega wealthy man. He claimed that we wanted to focus his time in his many philanthropic ventures.
However, his plan did not turned out to be so successful after all. Being a man that was constantly busy, retirement did not sit well with Watanabe and he decided to take a little gambling vacation to Vegas to blow some steam. This would prove to be the beginning of the end for Watanabe. Nobody could have foreseen that Watanabe would develop a serious drug and gambling addiction almost instantaneously. At the peak of his destructive cycle, he would amount to waste a cool 5 million dollars in a single day. I did not even know it was possible to spend that much in 24 hours! I guess everything is possible when you play 3 $50,000 limit blackjack tables simultaneously or spend hours playing low odds games like roulette. This was not the first time he had mega losses either. In early 2007, Steve Wynn barred him from his casinos after losing $21 million on a major alcohol binge.
After he was expelled form Wynn casinos, his association with Harrah’s started. His careless type of gambling behavior made Watanabe the ultimate whale. The casino showered him with out of control comps like free residency in a three room suite at the Caesars, had his favorite food and drinks always available, concert tickets, airfare, etc. Apparently, casino employers were afraid to cut Watanabe off despite his losses and spendthrift for fear of reprimand from the high casino executives.
At the end of the whole ordeal, Mr. Watanabe and Harrah’s entertainment have come to an undisclosed agreement in which Watanabe dropped his civil lawsuits and Harrah’s will freeze their counterclaims pending mandatory settlement. Addiction can be a powerful thing but I still cannot begin to justify Watanabe’s actions. $127 million is a ridiculous amount of money to lose in a casino and he should have looked for help when he was first kicked out of a casino for his compulsory behavior. Good thing that things like this never happen at Prism casino! We have the best customer service and our casino famously know for always taking care of our customers no matter what!