The late Akio Kashiwagi was a Japanese property developer with a vast fortune and alleged ties to the Yakuza. During the 1980s and early 1990s, he was one of the highest of high rollers. Baccarat was his game of choice and with credit lines in the millions he routinely gambled US$100,000 - $200,000 a hand. For his fearless gambling, he was dubbed “The Warrior” by casino executives.
One casino executive, Dennis Gomes, of the Dunes in Las Vegas says that Akio Kashiwagi would “sit at the Baccarat table and bet $100,000 a hand for 80 hours. He’d play two days straight without sleeping, go to bed, get up and gambler some more.”
While the casinos may have competed for Akio’s action, he was known as one of the toughest customers. He was known to routinely negotiate his losses. Mr Gnomes says “He was a friendly guy but he was a tough negotiator when it came to paying his debt. It was frustrating to deal with him. Out of an $8 million debt, you'd probably collect maybe $5 million."
Akio Kashiwagi’s most famous win was a record breaking US$6 million from the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City in February 1990. In a baccarat session befitting a whale, Akio was wagering US$200,000 a hand at a rate of around US$14 million an hour. At one point, ‘The Warrior’ was up more than US$7 million.
In May 1990, Akio Kashiwagi again broke records. During a marathon high stakes baccarat session at the Trump Plaza that lasted 6 days, Akio lost US$10 million. This still stands as the largest single loss in Baccarat history. Casino owner, Donald J. Trump is quoted as saying that Akio was up more than US$10 million before losing.
In January 1992, Akio Kashiwagi was found dead at his Mount Fuji home with 150 stab wounds. At the time of his death Akio still had casino debts to be settled in the order of at least US$9 million, owing US$5 million to the Las Vegas Hilton and US$4 million to the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City.
LAS VEGAS -- During a year-long gambling binge at the Caesars Palace and Rio casinos in 2007, Terrance Watanabe managed to lose nearly $127 million.
The run is believed to be one of the biggest losing streaks by an individual in Las Vegas history. It devoured much of Mr. Watanabe's personal fortune, he says, which he built up over more than two decades running his family's party-favor import business in Omaha, Neb. It also benefitted the two casinos' parent company, Harrah's Entertainment Inc., which derived about 5.6% of its Las Vegas gambling revenue from Mr. Watanabe that year.
Today, Mr. Watanabe and Harrah's are fighting over another issue: whether the casino company bears some of the responsibility for his losses.
In a civil suit filed in Clark County District Court last month, Mr. Watanabe, 52 years old, says casino staff routinely plied him with liquor and pain medication as part of a systematic plan to keep him gambling. Nevada's Gaming Control Board has opened a separate investigation into whether Harrah's violated gambling regulations, based on allegations made by Mr. Watanabe.