Easy Come, Easy Go: Gamblers Who Lost it All

Casinos and sports books do their best to help gambling addicts. The best of them are affiliated with problem gambling organizations and they also include warnings that pop-up when players have been on the slots or tables too long. Offline casinos do something similar, with staff targeting players who have been gambling excessively, and both online and offline casinos have limits, self-exclusion schemes and more that players can implement to help them with their gambling.

However, despite all of this, it can’t be argued that the gambling addicts are the ones who line the pockets of the gambling companies more than any other type of player. You and I might gamble a little here and there, winning some and losing some, but addicts rarely win, and whatever they do win goes back to the casino. They spend everything they have made, everything they have saved, and some players spend a lot more than that. As we shall discover, when gambling grips you, it can really take hold and before you know it, you have nothing left.

Yo-Yo Yuppie

Justyn Rees Larcombe had a lot going for him, with a life as posh as his name. He had a job in the city, a beautiful wife and a lifestyle that many people would kill for. Under the surface though, not all was as it seemed, as Justyn was battling with a gambling addiction. In 2012, his wife discovered the secret that he had kept from her and their children for about two years, and that secret nearly destroyed their marriage.

Justyn bet on everything, but he preferred sports bets. It began as a hobby in 2010, something to pass the time and a great way of spending all of the excess income that he was accumulating. Before long though, it had spiraled out of control. The low point for him was when he sold a gift set his son had received for his Christening, something that was supposed to be there for when his son grew up, but would actually end up in a pawn shop, the money received being gambled away on losing soccer bets. Justyn also lost the equity in his home and blew the chances that he and his wife had of buying their dream home.

In fact, within 2 years, Justyn had lost £750,000, which amounts to about $1,2 million. He had everything when he began, and next to nothing when he finished. He managed to stop the gambling though and whilst his wife came close to walking out on him, he reconciled with her in the end.

In for a Penny, in for a Pound

Pound Stretcher is a store in the UK that prides itself on selling cheap goods. It is not quite a 99 cent store, or a pound store as they are called in the UK, but it does have a lot of products at that price point. The profits at these stores are therefore fairly minimal, and in one store at the beginning of 2015, those profits were even less thanks to two high-risk, low-intelligence workers.

The staff in question were actually sales managers, who presumably decided to reward themselves for a hard day’s work by shifting all of the day’s takings to a nearby casino and to a roulette table. If they had won, it would have seemed like a great plan. The $5,000 or so would have turned into $10,000. They could have pocketed the profit and paid the rest back without their bosses knowing. However, things rarely go well when so much stupidity is involved, and the two staff members lost every penny. They then phoned their boss to confess, losing their jobs and facing a day in court for their troubles.

One of the most surprising things about this story is that one of these employees went straight into another job, working for the car manufacturer Nissan. For their sake we hope they don’t let him anywhere near the till, or a casino for that matter.


Terry Watanabe was sitting on a small fortune, all of which had been inherited from his extremely wealthy father. Unfortunately for Terry and his late father, he wasn’t much of a businessman. As a result, he didn’t enjoy the sort of success that his old man had, and he also avoided the limelight. That is, until 2007, when he took his father’s money to Las Vegas and didn’t return until all of it had gone.

It has been suggested that Terry lost around $5 million a day during a binge that lasted many weeks. When you consider that he was playing blackjack and losing such high amounts, you realize that poor Terry was just as bad at cards and gambling as he was at business. His epic gambling session would stretch on for days at a time, with very little sleep, food or drink in the process. At the end of it, Terry had lost close to $130 million, so much money in fact that he alone accounted for 1/20th of all of the profit generated by the City of Sin in 2007.

He may have blown his father’s fortune, but at least Terry was finally able to find his legacy. However, it’s probably a good thing that his father wasn’t around to witness it.

Down But Not Out

If you think Terry’s losses were bad, then spare a thought for Harry Kakavas. The Aussie real estate mogul had made his fortune by investing in the beautiful Gold Coast, but he had a serious gambling problem that saw him lose large chunks of cash in a matter of hours. The most memorable night for Kakavas, and the casino that accepted his custom, occurred when the problem gambler blew around $170 million in less than 6 hours.

This is a phenomenal amount and one that might be hard to get your head around. Even to Kakavas this was a lot of cash, although he clearly didn’t think twice about betting $300,000 per hand on blackjack.

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