Terrance Watanabe

Terrance Watanabe Net Worth

$150 Million
Last Updated: August 23, 2023

What is Terrance Watanabe's Net Worth?

Terrance "Terry" Watanabe is an American businessman who had a peak net worth of $500 million. When he was 20 years old, Watanabe became CEO of the plastic party favor and trinket company that was founded by his father. He expanded the Nebraska-based business into a thriving $300 million dollar a year mail-order party supply, favors, and decoration business. In 2000, Watanabe sold his entire stake in the company to Los Angeles-based firm Brentwood Associates, and resigned as CEO and President.

A compulsive gambler, Watanabe famously lost most of his fortune at casinos in Las Vegas. During a very public and epic gambling run in 2007, Watanabe ran through much of his personal wealth, losing up to $5 million dollars per day gambling. Watanabe's downward spiral into gambling addiction and alcoholism resulted in losing $204 million in one year while gambling at Harrah's Entertainment, Inc casinos Caesar's Palace and the Rio. Harrah's reported that 5.6% of its gambling revenues that year were from the losses incurred by Watanabe. He paid $112 million back but refused to pay the rest prompting Harrah's to file criminal charges of fraud and theft against Watanabe. In July 2010 a settlement was reached between Harrah's Entertainment and Watanabe resulting in a dismissal of both the civil and criminal cases.

Oriental Trading Company

In 1977, Watanabe became publicly recognized when he took over as president and part owner of Oriental Trading Company, which was founded by his father Harry in 1932. Started as a gift shop in Omaha, Nebraska, it eventually expanded to multiple shops across the midwest, providing value-priced party supplies, toys, arts and crafts, and novelties, as well as school supplies. In 2000, Watanabe sold his entire stake in the company to Brentwood Associates, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm. He resigned as CEO and president, and went on to pursue philanthropic endeavors. In 2006, the Carlyle Group acquired 68% interest in the company. Four years later, Oriental Trading Company declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Subsequently, in 2012, it was acquired by the holding company Berkshire Hathaway.

(Photo by STEVE MARCUS, Licensed via LAS VEGAS SUN)

Gambling Losses

After he sold Oriental Trading Company, Watanabe became notorious for his extreme gambling habits. In 2007, he reportedly lost $127 million at the Rio and Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, having gambled $825 million in total. He was known to gamble 24 hours a day, playing three $50,000 hands of blackjack simultaneously and losing up to $5 million every day. Watanabe's overall estimated gambling losses came out to around $204 million, giving him one of the biggest losing streaks in Las Vegas history. Moreover, due to his compulsive habits, he was banned from Wynn Las Vegas.

Watanabe's losses caused significant turmoil among the casinos. Caesars Entertainment Corporation was fined $225,000 by the New Jersey Gaming Commission for allowing Watanabe to go on gambling while he was in a severely inebriated state. Further, Caesars alleged that Watanabe was using marijuana and cocaine and making sexual advances toward employees.

The company ultimately sued him, and felony charges were made for theft and writing bad checks. However, it was revealed that many of the casinos were in fact providing Watanabe with alcohol, including special vodka imported especially for him from Russia. They were also plying him with food, drugs, and other services to get him to stick around, as he was contributing substantially to casino revenue. Unable to pay his $14.7 million in gambling debts, Watanabe eventually ended up suing the casinos. Ultimately, a settlement was reached out of court in July of 2010, and all charges were dropped. Watanabe reportedly paid $100,000 of the money he owed.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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