Published Wednesday, May 20, 2009 | 1:31 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, May 20, 2009 | 5:04 p.m.
- Gambler who lost millions claims he was plied with alcohol, drugs (5-18-2009)
- Grand jury indicts high roller in $14.7M casino debt case (4-29-2009)
- High roller posts $1.5 million bail to avoid jail stay (2-18-2009)
- Philanthropist allegedly owes $14.7 million to Rio, Caesars (2-4-2009)
- Feds press probe of ex-Fry’s executive (2-2-2009)
- Casino profile details luxurious lifestyle of former Fry’s executive (1-14-2009)
Nebraska philanthropist Terrance K. Watanabe pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony charges of theft and passing bad checks in connection with $14.7 million in gambling debts.
Watanabe, 52, made the plea during an arraignment in justice court.
Earlier this week through his Las Vegas attorney, David Chesnoff, Watanabe accused Caesars Palace and the Rio, both Harrah's properties, of plying him with alcohol and, at Caesars Palace, prescription painkillers as his losses mounted.
Watanabe, whose wealth comes from the Omaha-based Oriental Trading Co., has said he was kept in a constant state of intoxication by resort employees in the late months of 2007, which is a violation of state gaming regulations.
Nevada gaming regulations prohibit casinos from allowing "visibly intoxicated" players to continue to gamble.
Watanabe's court apperance lasted only minutes and his attorney did most of the talking. Watanabe spoke only to say he understood the charges against him, to spell his name and to enter his plea.
He left the Regional Justice Center flanked by his attorneys and a woman identified as his sister. Watanabe faces the possibility of probation or up to 16 years in prison if convicted.
In 2007, he lost $112 million at Harrah's casinos, including $94.1 million at Caesars Palace and $12.2 million at the Rio, Chesnoff has said. With the exception of the $14.7 million in dispute, all of that money was paid back to the casinos through wire transfers, Chesnoff said.
A Watanabe attorney declined to comment on the case Wednesday, referring to a statement he released days ago about the case.
Trial is scheduled for Nov. 16.
Transport yourself to the opulent and excessive Roman Empire at Caesars Palace. But the ever-changing Caesars Palace is far from ancient. The hotel and casino is constantly raising the bar for what visitors can expect in a Vegas resort experience.
Caesars Palace features 3,348 rooms and suites in five towers, including the new luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, which opened Feb. 4, 2013, in the totally remodeled Centurian Tower. Caesars features 129,000 square feet of gaming space, including the Strip’s largest poker room and a 250-seat sports book. Other amenities include about two dozen restaurants, a four-level shopping mall, four pools, a spa, Pure and Poetry nightclubs and Pussycat Dolls.
Dining options include restaurants from world-renown chefs Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay and, on Feb. 4, 2013, Nobu Matsuhisa.
You never know what characters you’ll run into at Caesars with regular performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Elton John and maybe even the emperor himself.
Carnival lasts all year at the Rio. With a float occasionally passing overhead and dropping beads while feathered dancers fire up the gamblers below, the Rio tries to keep its 120,000-square foot casino jumping with excitement. Special Brazilian mixed-drinks are also served throughout the casino. The hotel suites tend to be larger than similar priced rooms on the Strip and many offer excellent views with floor to ceiling windows.
The Rio offers some quality shows like "Penn & Teller" and "Chippendales." Many come to the Rio for the nightlife at the VooDoo Lounge, located on the 51st floor, or McFadden's Irish Pub on the casino level.
Others come for a bit relaxation at the Rio Spa or pool area and still others come to shop at the hotel's 60,000 square feet of shops. In each of these endeavors, the Rio attempts to make the experience a bit more fun and spontaneous.
The Rio also offers guests a variety of dining choices from all-American food at the All-American Bar & Grille to Gaylord India Restaurant for something a little spicier and even Carnival World Buffet for the indecisive.