Finance Finance News Viva Las Vegas! Packer’s next big gamble

Viva Las Vegas! Packer’s next big gamble

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James Packer is willing to take another gamble on setting up a casino in Las Vegas, a place where both he and his father, media tycoon Kerry Packer, have bet big.

During his life, Kerry Packer won and lost millions at casinos in Las Vegas and London.

The billionaire would make three or four trips a year to Vegas, where he once tipped a cigarette girl $A150,000.

His favourite card game was baccarat.

Colourful, unauthenticated reports of Kerry Packer’s legendary gambling abound.

In 2000, he reportedly lost about $A33 million over three days of playing baccarat at the Bellagio Hotel – said to be one of the biggest losses ever seen in Vegas.

But his wins were just as big as his losses.

He once collected between $A24 million and $A33 million playing cards at the MGM Grand casino, almost sending the casino broke.

The media mogul was regarded as an accomplished card player and didn’t stay around after a win to give the casinos a chance at retrieving their losses.

He is said to have won 20 hands of baccarat in a row at a Vegas casino table.

A Texan oilman at Packer’s table allegedly bragged he was worth $US60 million.

“Toss you for it”, Packer apparently retorted.

But the experience of Kerry Packer’s son, James, in Las Vegas is different, with his corporate gambles there not always paying off.

His casinos group Crown Resorts made a disastrous foray into Vegas in 2008.

In an interview with Forbes magazine in March, James said he “lost a bunch of money in America because of the financial crisis”.

Some estimates put those losses as high as $US2.6 billion.

James was glad his father was not alive to have seen the failure.

Since then, he has enjoyed success from Crown’s casinos in Australia, and especially a joint-venture casino operation in Macau.

James says his interest in casinos was sparked by the happy times he had with his father after Kerry had had a good night.

Now, after losing big, James Packer is looking for happy times in Vegas, by winning big with his $US280 million investment in a casino joint venture.