Gambling Whale: The story of Terrance Watanabe who wagered $800+ million in a year

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Terrance Watanabe was a businessman who inherited his family’s party-favor importing company, and at one point, he was listed as one of the richest people in Nebraska, USA. He became known for his high-stakes gambling in Las Vegas and had a reputation for being one of the biggest spenders in the city.

In 2007, Watanabe lost a staggering $127 million gambling at two Las Vegas casinos – Caesars Palace and the Rio. According to reports, he would gamble for hours on end, sometimes staying up for days at a time, and was known to bet as much as $200,000 on a single hand of blackjack. He along with Harry Kakavas are considered biggest modern day whales in gambling. Terrance’s total bets in 2007 were $825 million – higher than the GDP of several smaller nations.

Watanabe’s losses were so significant that they accounted for a significant portion of the casinos’ revenue. As a result, the Nevada Gaming Control Board launched an investigation into the matter, and Caesars Entertainment, which owned the casinos, was eventually fined $225,000 for allowing Watanabe to gamble despite his obvious signs of intoxication.

Watanabe, for his part, claimed that the casinos had given him free alcohol and prescription drugs to keep him gambling, which he said impaired his judgment. He also alleged that the casinos had extended him credit even when he was unable to pay his debts.

In the end, Watanabe filed a lawsuit against Caesars Entertainment, seeking $20 million in damages. The case was eventually settled out of court, with the terms remaining confidential. Watanabe has since reportedly sought help for his gambling addiction and has stayed out of the spotlight.

In 2022, Foundation Media acquired rights for exclusive book, movie and documentary rights on the life Watanabe.  When the documentary comes out, it will be the first time the whale speaks out on his experience with gambling.