Top 2 Brilliant Examples of Not Betting Responsibly

The words betting and gambling have always carried negative connotations despite being the easiest ways to multiply your money. It is this extremely high profitability and the dopamine of winning by getting lucky that drives people to throw caution to the wind and incur unfathomable losses.

History stands testament to filthy rich people who grinned at the face of fate and went big by betting ludicrous amounts of money and paid little regard to gamble strategy, math, and statistics, and lost stupendously.

In this article, I’ll be narrating to you a couple of such stories of irresponsible betting, and irrespective of the real money you’re gambling.

These examples will have something for everyone to learn from.

1. The Man Who Lost ₹900 Crore ($127 million)

What happens when you give imported Russian Vodka and a 3 bedroom suite in an opulent casino, to an alcoholic, gambling addict, billionaire?

An epic $800 million gambling story for the history books.

Yes, this first story took place in the year 2007 when a businessman named Terrance Watanabe (Terry)  gambled around $800 million (₹5,700 Crores) and lost an astonishing $127 million (₹900 Crores) in a betting spree that lasted almost an entire year.

To land at this point in his life and career, we need to track back in time and take a glimpse of Terry’s history.

Early Life of Terrance Watanabe

Born in the year 1962 in the city of Omaha in Nebraska, Terry inherited his father, Harry Watanabe’s company “Oriental Trading,” which dealt with direct merchants of value-priced party supplies, toys, school supplies, novelties, arts & crafts, and many more.

At a young age of just 15, Terry became the president and part-owner of the company and deviated the focus of it to making party goods for retailers, schools, churches, and individuals.

Terry, later in the year 2000 sold his stakes in the company to a Los Angeles based firm named Brentwood Associates, resigned as the President and CEO of Oriental Trading and became a full-time philanthropist. Right after this, he fell in love with gambling, and so the story begins.

The Baited Casino Whale

Predominantly betting on Blackjack, Terry would place bets on three hands of $50,000 each and is said to have lost more than $5 million within a 24 hour day & night gambling session.

There isn’t much information on the blackjack strategies Terry played with or if he followed any statistics or math to go with his gambling, but by the insane amount of loss he incurred, it would be safe to speculate that he depended on getting lucky more than he should have.

Examples of Not Betting Responsibly

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Deemed as a casino “whale”, high rollers who wagered such high amounts are given special attention and perks that encourage them to keep on gambling.

Constituting a significant portion of the casino’s annual income, such whales are welcomed with a rolled out red carpet, given the best suite with the best amenities to reside at, top of the shelf beverages, personal caretakers, and other unimaginable hospitality.

Terry was one such casino whale, so the casinos Caesars Palace and the Rio Casino spared no expense to make Terry feel at home. He was given a 3-room, top of the line suite, imported vodka from Russia, 3 personal concierge attendants and a never-heard-of gambling limit of $17 million.

The Legal Trouble

At the end of the day, what really drove Terry to gamble away his millions was not necessarily the indulgence but the fact that the casinos allowed him to gamble in his inebriated state.

Terry later locked horns with Harrah’s Entertainment Inc, the parent company of both, “Caesars Palace” and “Rio,” by lodging a civil suit in Clark County District Court claiming the said casinos were partly responsible for encouraging his gambling streak by providing him free alcohol and medication and allowing him to gamble when he was highly intoxicated.

“It’s a tragedy, Mr. Watanabe’s a tragedy,” his lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, told

“Good Morning America”. “He was so addicted and so out of it, he didn’t really realize what was going on.”

Terry has since paid up to $112 million to the Harrah’s and he refused to pay the rest, alleging that the casinos didn’t give him the promised cashback on the losses and that the casinos allowed him to play in an intoxicated state.

Failing to pay the rest of the money might result in Terry spending up to 28 years in jail for the loss of payment to the Harrah’s.

Evidently, Terry is on the losing side of this battle and it is calculated that he may have lost more than $204 million during his exuberant spell of gambling.

Despite an unfortunate end to the tale, Terrance Watanabe’s story has crucial lessons we can all learn from:

  • Gambling is better when it has math, strategy, and statistics mixed with it.
  • Do not let freebies and opulence fool you.
  • Do not gamble while you’re intoxicated.
  • Notice when someone is using you for your money.
  • Do not count on getting lucky and bet your house on anything.

2. Billions Down the Drain

Our next story comes from the ‘down under’ where an Australian real estate mogul lost as much as $1.5 billion. Yes, that is a billion, with a ‘B’.

Harry Kakavas, the man who made money in millions selling mansions in the Gold Coast city of Australia was notoriously known for his gambling habits.

It is said that in the year 2005, Harry had gambled around $300,000 per hand on baccarat tables in the Crown casino and ended up losing so huge that he became world news overnight.

What’s worse?

Out of the outrageous amount of money he had lost, Harry had borrowed millions of dollars from friends who trusted that he was investing their money in successful real-estate ventures, millions from banks that lent him money, and from other sources.

examples of betting mistakes

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The Crown Casino in Melbourne came under fire when it was claimed that James Packer, the CEO of Crown had offered Harry luxury accommodations, free food, drinks, a limousine to move around and a private jet to fly him back and forth from the Gold Coast to Melbourne.

Prior to this, Harry was a regular high roller at casinos in Las Vegas where he was already losing money in millions.

Holidays in the Philippines, $50,000 of ‘lucky money’ and many other perks that cost the Crown around $10 million were earned right back in a matter of a few hours.

Often making it rain the millions, in one instance, Harry had lost a whopping $2.3 million within 30 minutes and continued haemorrhaging money until he had nothing left.

Claiming that the Crown was aware of the compulsive gambling nature of Harry, he sued the casino for taking advantage of his weakness and addiction.

Harry’s lawyers believed that the Crown had committed big enough mistakes that the judgment by the court would be a monumental one in gambling history but it fired right back at them.

With absolutely no remorse for gambling addicts, the High Court of Australia (HCA), in 2013 ruled that:

“In the absence of a relevant legislative provision, there is no general duty upon a casino to protect gamblers from themselves.”

Ruling that Harry wasn’t at a special disadvantage which made him susceptible to the said exploitation, and was in a position to make rational decisions based on his own whim.

Losing the case, and losing money in the millions, Harry later went bankrupt and has failed to make the news since 2013.

The Lesson

The addiction of gambling doesn’t discriminate between the rich and the poor. Even in India, we hear time and again about the domestic violence caused by gambling, people losing entire livelihoods, and worse, mass suicides.

This shows that gambling is only for the meticulous, the mathematical, matured, and the strategic people who don’t allow adrenaline, addiction, superstition or a winning streak get the better of them.

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