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Casinos losing millions over gambling debts

11 February 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- As reported by KVBC-TV: "As the economy worsens, local casinos are taking bigger-than-ever losses from gamblers. In some cases, it may be just a few hundred dollars. But in others, high rollers are walking away from gambling debts worth millions.

As prosecutors look at the flood of new cases coming their way, News 3'sSteve Crupi reports that it's a financial crime that hurts all of us The way Las Vegas casinos have always worked is that gamblers get their chips on credit. They sign a marker that legally is the same as a bank check. Now, those checks are bouncing in record numbers.

"Deputy District Attorney Bernard Zadrowski thinks the bad economy is partially to blame.

"'On a daily basis, we see large amounts that people gamble and don't repay," he says.

"The most stunning case involves a high roller accused of cashing checks for more than $14 million during visits to Caesars Palace and the Rio Hotel. The criminal complaint filed last week against millionaire Terrance Watanabe of Nebraska shows he received numerous casino markers ranging from $200,000 to $875,000.

"Watanabe's is the biggest case of unpaid gambling debts prosecutors in Las Vegas have ever seen. And it's not just the casino corporations that are paying the price. In this time of cutbacks and layoffs, everyone who works at the hotels - even everyone who lives in Las Vegas - could be considered an indirect victim of deadbeat gamblers..."

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