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6 massive multi-million-pound gambling disasters

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Which big businessmen have found themselves bankrupted by the roulette wheel?

Robert Maxwell

Robert Maxwell is thought to have made one of history’s fastest gambling losses

The term “gambling banker” has for the last few years been inextricably linked to pre-banking crisis banking practices carried out far from real Casino floors, on the trading desks of our leading global investment institutions.

Bankers have long resented the association, as have casinos for that matter which in 2012 lashed out over their links to “capitalist casinos”. But over the weekend, one of the City’s biggest tycoons made an attempt to challenge the stereotype once and for all.

Bankers it seems can gamble just as well (or rather badly) off as on the investment circuit.

Talal Shakerchi, founder of Meditor – which has some £3bn of assets under investment – made headlines this week for losting a stellar £1m at an unofficial poker game in Monaco.

According to the London Evening Standard, Shakerchi lost an initial half a million euro, before buying back in for €750,000.

He was rumoured to be joined by a mix of skilled amateur players and professionals, with experts saying that more than four million euro was likely on the table, making this the biggest public game ever played in Europe.

Shakerchi’s losses though are nothing compared to lows seen by some of his fellow businessmen over the years so to dull the pain we thought we would look into some of history’s worst gambling disasters.

1)      Terry Watanabe

Right before the financial crisis hit, one Chinese businessman was already making catastrophic losses of his own. Terry Watanabe, known as the Caesar’s Palace whale, managed to lose $120m in 2007 alone. He made losses of $205m in total and ended up leaving the Las Vegas Casion with $15m in unpaid debt.

Tourists are said to have flocked to watch the tycoon play simultaneous games of blackjack on the $50,000 limit table.

2)     Kerry Packer

Australian businessman Kerry Packer

Australian businessman Kerry Packer was known for his love of horses and gambling

In 1999, Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer encountered a week of solid bad luck, losing nearly £20m in UK casinos in just seven days. But it is another alleged instance that same year that truly propelled Packer to the realm of all time gambling legends. It is said that the billionaire walked into Crockfords Casino in London on his own, wagering somewhere between £11m to £15m on just four spins of the roulette wheel, before losing the lot and casually walking out.

3)      Frank Sarakakis

London’s Crockfords also got the better of Greek automobile magnate Frank Sarakakis, who lost £8m on roulette there in 1994 alone. He clearly hadn’t learnt his lesson from a 1988 incident at the Ritz where he was said to have lost nearly as much, also at the roulette table.

4)      Robert Maxwell

If you think Rupert Murdoch is controversial, you have obviously forgotten about Czech-born, British media mogul and The Mirror group founder Robert Maxwell. A Labour MP back in the day, he was sometimes even accused of being a Russian spy by the right. Not that the Soviets are likely to have had much stomach for his flamboyant, playboy ways. Not only was Maxwell a lover of luxury, he was also a compulsive gambler, widely considered to have made the biggest gambling losses in the shortest period of time – EVER. He managed to lose £1.5m in under three minutes at London’s Ambassadeurs casino.

5)      Sir Philip Green

Sir Philip Green and Kim Kardashian

The Ambassadeurs’ roulette tables also got the better of Top Shop billionaire Sir Philip Green who reportedly lost £2m there in just one evening in December 2004.

6)      Akio Kashiwagi

But, don’t think it’s just Brits who have been burned by flames of fortune. In the early 1990s Japanese property developer Akio Kashiwagi was considered to be the world’s biggest gambler.

Quite a reputation, but ultimately an unlucky one. He is said to have lost $10m in one session of the card came baccarat at the Trump Casino and was stabbed to death outside his home shortly thereafter.

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