In casino circles, the name they use to refer to people who gamble big money is “whales.” And they call people who are lousy gamblers “suckers.”
This makes Terrance Watanabe the ultimate “sucker whale.”
In one year, Watanabe lost $127 million to two Las Vegas casinos. The Wall Street Journal, as well as some other publications, tell Watanabe’s story. He inherited an incredible business from his father, importing party favors. He sold the business in 2000 and developed a new hobby, gambling.
Now, he is looking at criminal charges. In Vegas, they put you in jail if you stiff a casino. Terrance ponied up $117 million but balked the additional $14.7 million the casinos claim that he owes. Watanabe is suing the casinos. He claims they plied him with booze and drugs to keep him gambling. No one is going to feel sorry for a guy like Watanabe. His own attorney says that Watanabe “takes full responsibility for his condition at the time … He’s not saying that ‘the devil made me do it.’
On the other hand, corporately-owned casinos don’t have the kind of regulations that stock and commodities traders have. They don’t even follow the norms and mores of the way casinos were run when the mafia ran them. Stock brokers are governed by “know your customer” rules, and more than one broker has been busted for letting a trading client get out of control. I grew up around gamblers and bookies who would frequently get together and cut-off “suckers” who were on their way to going broke.
Cutting off a loser makes good business sense. Having a client go completely bust is bad publicity for a casino, in particular, and for gambling, in general. It shows the world that problem-gambling has a down side and a cost.
I have seen people lose their houses, their savings and their lives because of problem gambling.
Only a Few problem gamblers run through $127 million. They don’t have that much money.