December 28th, 2022: It’s common to hear stories about players losing a few rounds in casinos and many reporting losses that amount to a few thousand dollars. But how about players who lose millions or even hundreds of millions?
While it may seem improbable to some, it happened in Las Vegas courtesy of Terry Watanabe, a notorious casino player who made a name as Vegas’ biggest-ever whale, losing over $200 million in a single year after gambling over $825 million. The story is getting a big boost this year with an announcement that a media outfit has secured the rights to make this into a movie. Foundation Media Partners has announced that it has secured exclusive film, book, and documentary rights on Mr. Watanabe, Las Vegas’s biggest-ever whale!
Who is Terrence Watanabe?
Terrence Watanabe is an American businessman who inherited the Oriental Trading Company, which trades arts and crafts, toys, and school supplies. In 2000, he sold his stake in the company to an equity firm called Brentwood Associates and resigned from his position as CEO and President. After selling his business, he became a philanthropist and soon started visiting casinos where he made a name for himself wrongfully.
According to records, Watanabe turned much of his time to gambling. In 2007, Watanabe reportedly lost $127 million at the Caesar’s Palace and The Rio in Las Vegas after wagering almost $825 million. Watanabe’s lavish gambling and losses during this time are considered the “biggest losing streak in Vegas history”.
A lavish gambling lifestyle
After selling the company, Watanabe started playing games at the Harrah’s Casino in Iowa in 2003, with regular trips to Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, he made a name for himself as a ‘whale’ and a high-stakes gambler. According to stories from staffers, Watanabe would stay at the tables for up to 24 hours, and there were times that he lost up to $5 million daily.
Because of his activities, the casino began to treat Watanabe as a special customer, with some calling him the “Chairman” with lavish perks and benefits. For example, the casino would reward Watanabe with Rolling Stones tickets or gift store credits.
His spending had reportedly increased the casino’s bottom line by at least 6%.
Soon, Watanabe fell into immense debt. In these legal battles, Watanabe shares that the operators and their hosts “enabled” his substance abuse and contributed to declining his mental health, creating an unstable environment that preyed on his wealth. Watanabe claims that the casino was partly responsible for his losing streak by providing him with free drinks and painkillers.
According to one source, Watanabe was drinking two or three vodka bottles daily, all supplied by Harrah’s employees. In addition, he was also given highly addictive pills. All these push Watanabe to gamble while intoxicated and play games irresponsibly.
A Hollywood movie for Watanabe, soon
Now, Watanabe’s experiences in Las Vegas get a Hollywood treatment.
Foundation Media Partners is ready to share the story and one that Watanabe is willing to set straight. According to Foundation Media Partners’ Founder and CEO, Patrick Hughes, he “heard a lot about Terry over the years and became kind of obsessed with learning more about him.” He added that he had “all the money in the world and a heart of gold, and then he got caught on a crazy hamster wheel of opulence and self-destruction that’s as tragic as it is fascinating.”
Foundation Media was founded by Hughes in 2016 and has worked with Dreamworks Animations’ The Bad Guys.