Top 10 Gambling Losers of History
Author: Justin Mckibben
Gambling addiction is an impulse-control disorder, because there is a complete lack of control over the urge to gamble once it takes hold. Those who struggle with gambling addiction are in the grips of a behavioral health disorder that can destroy various aspects of their lives.
There are some infamous addicted gamblers out there, and some are fortunate to have the money to pay for it, but still looking at their recorded losses, it is enough to take heed how gambling can hurt anyone’s pockets. Here are the top 10 gambling losers of history, and how much they lost rolling the dice.
1. $2.25 Million- Robert Maxwell
In less than three minutes, the former media tycoon blew through more than $2 million by playing three different roulette wheels at Les Ambassadeurs casino in London. To make matters worse, there was no income to repay his debt as his successful publishing company went out of business several years later. He reportedly owed several million dollars, due to pension fraud, at the time of his death.
2. $3.15 Million- Jimmy White
Mr. White admitted to losing more than $3 million gambling, mainly on horse racing and blackjack, in addition to spending over $300,000 on drugs. Mr. White also admitted to having a severe alcohol abuse problem during the time he battled with drugs and gambling.. After losing the World Championship Finals in 1994, he admitted to spending his nearly $200,000 runner-up prize on drugs, horses, cards and drinking in only a 24 hour time frame.
3. $10 Million- Akio Kashiwagi
Akio Kashiwage was the sole principal of a real estate and investment business who reportedly made an estimated $100 million per year, the only problem was he gambled money away as quickly as he could earn it.
Reportedly during one particular gambling session in 1990 at the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City he made a deal to bet $12 million. But after blowing through $10 million, he reportedly left the casino claiming that they hadn’t held to their end of the deal.
He still owed casinos millions of dollars at the time of his death in 1992 when he was found murdered in his home.
4. $13 Million- Maureen O’connor
Maureen O’connor is a former mayor of San Diego who was once the wife of the Jack in the Box fast-food chain founder. O’Connor reportedly gambled $1 billion on video poker games throughout the 2000’s.
She eventually was in debt by $13 million through her gambling, which drove her to steal $2 million from the charity set up by her late husband in 2008-2009 to cover her losses, which resulted in the collapse of the foundation.
5. $20.5 Million- Harry Kakavas
Harry Kakavas was an Australian real estate salesman who blew through an estimated $1.5 billion at Melbourne Crown Casino between June 2005 and August 2006, primarily on games of baccarat.
In May 2006 he reportedly spent $164 million in less than six hours, and stole $286,000 to keep up his habit, which landed him a quick jail sentence at one point.
6.$40 Million- Archie Karas
This infamous poker player actually holds the longest-documented winning streak in gambling history. Karas started with $50 and miraculously wound up with about $40 million in 1992.
Any gambler would say to quit while you’re ahead, but Karas must not have got the memo, because he wound up burning through all the money by 1995 gambling.
7. $42.6 Billion- Kerry Packer
Kerry Packer was known as Australia’s richest man, and while he may be widely held as one of the top card players in the world of high-roller gambling, he is not above losing.
Packer gambled away $42 million between September 1999 and August 2000, including losing more than $21 million during a three-day baccarat-filled weekend in Las Vegas.
Packers losing streak didn’t end there, as he earned the largest gambling loss in British history after blowing through $17 million during a three-week gambling binge on blackjack in a London casino.
8. $65 Million- Omar Siddiqui
This unlucky gambler was a successful vice president of merchandising and operations for an electronics company, who eventually lost far more to his gambling.
Siddiqui lost around $65 million on blackjack, betting as much as $150,000 per hand, as if to throw the money away. He ended up spending $162 million in total over three years at the MGM Grand Casino and Sands Casino in Las Vegas.
9. $125 Million- Zhenli Ye Gon
Zhenli Ye Gon was raking in around $350 million over the course of three years as the CEO of United Pharm Chem. But gambling stepped in as a big part of his downfall, and between 2004 and 2007 Gon burned through around $85 million at The Venetian in Las Vegas and $40 million at several other nearby casinos.
Gon was also found guilty in august of 2014 of charges including organized crime, synthetic drug production and activities involving the use of illegal funds. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison as the leader of the operation after funneling a portion of his methamphetamine imports to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico.
Mexican drug agents and American DEA officials raided his Mexico City home in 2007, where they made the largest drug-cash seizure of all time when they discovered $207 million sitting on the floor in U.S. hundred dollar bills.
10. $204 Million- Terry Wantanabe
The biggest loser on the list is Nebraska-born businessman Terry Wantanabe, whose father founded Oriental Trading Company. Mr. Wantanabe reportedly burned through 9… count it, 9 figures in just a single year!
It was originally claimed he had lost $127 million in 2007, but in 2010 a close review of casino records determined that he had actually lost $204 million! Apparently his gambling was so prolific he was his own tourist attraction.
Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. reported that 5.6% of its gambling revenue came directly from Watanabe himself for that entire year, and he was later caught up in a court case surrounding his gambling and debts in so much controversy he was at risk of spending 28 years in prison at one point!
Fortunately for him, the casino had indeed broken a few laws themselves, and a confidential deal was made between both parties, ending in his criminal charges being dropped.
Those are some seriously steep price-tags for throwing away money. The reality is, most people who suffer from gambling addiction end up spending far beyond their own means, and in the end the luck runs out. This kind of compulsive behavior can bring the world down on our heads, but it is not impossible to escape. Start betting on yourself and your future in the right way and get the help you need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135