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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
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Loser Says Caesars Kept Him Doped Up

LAS VEGAS (CN) - A Nebraska man has countersued Caesars Palace, claiming the Harrah's Entertainment gambling joint gave him alcohol and a prescription painkiller, for which he had no prescription, getting him so high he lost millions of dollars.

Terry Watanabe, 52, acknowledges he racked up nearly $15 million in debt playing roulette and the slots at Caesars Palace in 2007. But he says the casino preyed on his obvious addiction to gambling, alcohol and painkillers, and kept him high on Lortab, a synthetic opiate, for which he did not have a prescription, and whose effects are intensified by alcohol. He says the casino kept him under constant surveillance, not for his own good, but so they would not lose him as a sucker.

In his complaint in Clark County Court, Watanabe says he has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges after the casino reported him to the Clark County District Attorney's Bad Checks Unit.

He says Caesars Palace failed to tell the DA that they had an agreement that his markers would not be due for 60 days.

He countersued for breach of contract, negligence and conspiracy by Harrah's Entertainment and Caesars Palace.

He also sued the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino, another Harrah's casino, where he says he lived and gambled before he moved to Caesar's Palace.

Watanabe says he got rich through a direct marketing company selling novelties and party items. He came to Las Vegas in 2006 and began a nonstop gambling spree at the casinos, where he had huge losses.

Watanabe said he was splitting his time between the Rio and the Wynn Las Vegas in November 2006. He says he decided to become a professional gambler and relied solely on gaming for his income.

Watanabe says he moved to the Rio in early 2007 because Harrah's executives offered him better comps and perks than those he was getting at the Wynn.

Shortly after moving to the Rio, Watanabe says, Harrah's executives moved him to Caesars Palace, where he gambled "essentially nonstop" and "spent nearly all of his time either on the casino floor or in his hotel room," according to the complaint.

Watanabe says the casino kept him under constant surveillance, not as a security measure, "but to control his every movement, ensuring that he remained on the premises and gambling steadily at Caesars Palace and/or other Harrah's properties."

In April 2007, he says, Harrah's changed the terms of his comps without notice, "to Harrah's own advantage and Watanabe's significant disadvantage."

Watanabe says he went on an astronomical losing streak that totaled millions of dollars by the autumn of 2007. He says he was clearly a gambling addict and alcoholic, "frequently [gambling] for days in a row with little interruption or sleep."

Watanabe says the casino provided him "with a non-stop supply of alcohol and prescription pain killers," Lortab, though he had no prescription for the drug.

He says the casino also raised his table limits higher than other patrons', which "further exacerbated Watanabe's noticeably reckless gambling."

Finally, Watanabe says, despite his agreement with Harrah's executives that his markers would not be presented for payment before 60 days, casino executives presented the markers to his bank for payment in January 2008, before the grace period expired.

He claims Caesars Palace and Rio employees "took the liberty of arbitrarily filling in missing dates [and] filled in bank account information, selecting for themselves from which of Watanabe's bank accounts the funds would be drawn."

The bank did not know of the 60-day agreement and paid what markers it could with available funds, Watanabe says. His complaint adds that he was out of country at the time and had no idea it was happening.

Watanabe says he has filed a complaint with the Nevada Gaming Control Board in which he says he bet more than $820 million at the Rio and Caesars Palace in 2007.

He says Harrah's and Caesars management knowingly exploited his obvious gambling addiction.

He seeks declaratory relief, including adjudication of his marker debts, and payment for any uncredited comps offered by the Harrah's agreement.

He is represented by Pierce O'Donnell of Los Angeles.

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