Biggest Gambling Losses and the Top Nations Gambling Losses With Reactions

Gambling losses & the Psychology of Winning and Losing

Gambling losses are even more common than gambling wins. Especially since betting high wagers means one can win a lot or lose a lot. Considering there are the biggest winners in the gambling industry, there are also the biggest gambling losses of all time. Additionally both aspects showcase the extreme highs and lows of playing the odds. 

In fact, there’s no limit to how much one can win in gambling. Moreover, there’s no limit to how much one can lose in gambling as well. All of which makes the stakes all that more exciting and devastating to say the least. The psychology of gambling is riveting particularly since the brain is wired to react positively to wins and negatively to losses. As a matter of fact, the act of gambling entirely rewires the brain’s chemistry.

Inside the gambler’s brain there is a series of circuits known as the reward system. It links various scattered regions of the brain involved in memory, movement, pleasure and motivation. When a punter engages in gambling and they win, neurons in their reward system squirt out a chemical messenger called dopamine. This inner chemical release provides gamblers with a little wave of satisfaction and this in itself becomes the high that punters who are problem gambling experience.

A German study suggests problem gamblers have lost sensitivity to their winning high. When winning, punters experience lower than typical electrical activity in their brain’s reward system. Similarly the punter experiences a heightened sense of impulsivity and reward seeking. For example, substance addicts need increasingly stronger hits to get high.


Similarly compulsive gamblers pursue even riskier wagers. Nevertheless studies suggest that punters experience compulsive gambling because their brain’s reward circuitry is under-active. In other words, the punters brain seek big thrills to stimulate itself and this under-active circuitry could possibly very much be the trigger of the biggest gambling losses.


10. Spain – $418 in annual losses per punter

Sports betting is the preferred betting method of Spanish punters. Indeed approximately 60-65% of bets on the grey market go towards sports betting, with the rest of the split between casino and poker bids. 

9. Greece – $420 in annual losses per punter

Last year, the Greeks experienced a $2.3 billion gambling loss. Suffering economic hardship forced Greece to privatize state assets. Greece sold the state-controlled gambling firm OPAP.  For further clarification, OPAP or The Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics S.A. used to have a monopoly over the gambling industry in the country.

8. Norway – $448 in annual losses per punter

The Norwegian Government has introduced a law that makes it obligatory for Norwegian banks to deny their customers use of their bank cards at online casino betting sites. Moreover, for the most part gambling in Norway is illegal however, clever punters skilled at overcoming the odds still manage to find ways to play in online casinos. 

7. Hong Kong – $503 in annual losses per punter

The Economist reports that Hong Kong’s citizens are the largest percentage of online gamblers. Above all in 2011, a total of 3.3% of the country’s total gambling losses were online. Gambling is only legal if punters gamble at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The Hong Kong Jockey Club permits betting on horse racing, football matches, and one lottery. Furthermore it’s the largest single taxpayer in Hong Kong, as well as the largest employer.

6. Italy -$517 in annual losses per punter

Currently Italy is by far the largest gambling market in Europe. An article by the New York Times indicates Pavia as a city especially affected by the trend of gambling. Being that there is one video lottery terminal or slot machine for every 104 of the city’s 68,300 residents. 

5. Finland – $553 in annual losses per punter

The Finnish government is trying to come up from their gambling losses by reworking and benefiting from the gambling industry. For example, gambling is organized as a national monopoly. It’s divided into three organisations whose revenues go towards social improvement.

The profit goes towards social and health care organisations. The Finnish National Lottery distributes its proceeds to the development of science, arts, sports, culture and youth work. Not to mention that the proceeds from Fintoto Oy benefit horse breeding and horse sports.

4. Canada – $568 in annual losses per punter

Above all, sports betting, poker and skill-related games are the favorites of Canadian punters’. Although gambling is legal all over Canada, each of the ten provinces does have its own particular set of gambling regulations. 

3. Ireland – $588 in annual losses per punter

Ireland is commonly known for those who believe in luck, superstitions, pots of gold and leprechauns. Yet is also mainly known for being fanatical lovers of sports betting. For example, PaddyPower is most likely Ireland’s biggest sports bookmaker. More importantly, it’s the first online gambling casino and in the gambling industry, it’s well-respected worldwide. 

2. Singapore – $1, 174 in annual losses per punter

In 2010, The Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa entered the Singapore scene. At these casinos tourists are allowed free entry. However in a move by the government to discourage activity, locals are required to pay a $100 entry fee. In fact, this still didn’t discourage Singapore from spending $1,174 in gambling losses per person ranking it at 2nd in the top countries with gambling losses.

1. Australia – $1, 288 in annual losses per person 

Being that 80% of adult Australians engage in some form of gambling, with over $1200 gambling losses annually per adult on average, Australia ranks at the top of the countries with the biggest gambling losses. In a like manner, researchers at Monash University discovered the most affected areas in Australia are disadvantaged zones along the east coast. 


5. Steve Richards – £30,000 gambling loss after he bet on ONE game of Rugby

Steve Richards simply wagered £10. The odds were stacked against him 3,861/1. Steve correctly guessed the results of 12 different rugby matches. This resulted in Steve taking home £38,970. Yet, Steve less than a week later bet £30,000 and if Wales beat Australia, Steve Richards would have won £55,000.

Unfortunately for Steve, Wales lost the game. Consequently, Steve Richards incurred £30,000 in gambling losses. However, Steve says that he has no regrets. Most importantly he would never bet against Wales in a rugby match!

4. Mark Jonhston: $500,000 in gambling losses at a Las Vegas Casino in one weekend

52-year-old Mark Johnston, a man in Vegas during the Super Bowl weekend lost a whopping $500,000 on table games. Johnston tried to argue that because he was blackout drunk, he shouldn’t have to pay the fee. Mark Johnston claims that the casino continued to serve him liquor even though he was unable to see his cards any longer.

More importantly, prevent yourself from performing at the same performance level as Mark Johnston and don’t drink when you gamble. Alcohol may make you feel like you’re more relaxed, but actually it decreases your playability as well as your decision-making skills. 

3. After turning £17 into £650,000, Bruno Venturi lost all of his earnings because of a software glitch

A 41-year-old shop worker from Naples, Italy, Bruno Venturi lost an incredible £650,000 in gambling losses in mere seconds. In three and a half hours, Bruno turned £17 into £650,000 on the website Eurobet UK. Unfortunately, the online gambling site refused to pay Bruno his winnings. The betting website argued that his winnings are null and void. They blame a software bug that only charged him for one in six of his bets. 

Bruno Venturi took Eurobet UK to court however a judge ruled in favour of Eurobet, The company did not have to pay Bruno Venturi his ‘winnings’ because of the computer glitch in the system. It seems the house is always stacked against the punter. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Eurobet fixed the software bug and claimed that Bruno Venturi never won to begin with. They stated that after fixing the computer glitch, he actually lost £59,908 during that three and a half hour gambling binge.

2. Terrance Watanabe lost close to $127 Million in a year

Terrance entered the limelight after he revealed to his family that he lost close to $127 Million in 2007 to Harrah’s Entertainment Inc in Las Vegas.

Casino employees stated that Terrance would often gamble for 24 hours straight, and lose up to $5 Million in a single day. Furthermore, Terrance was allowed to break casino rules and play three hands of blackjack at once.

Terrance refused to pay 14.7 Million dollars that the casino gave him as credit, claiming that the casino purposefully liquored him up and slipped him pain medication so he would continue to gamble. In April 2009, the Clark Country District Attorney’s office charged Terrance Watanabe with four felony counts for intent to defraud and steal.

1. Harry Kakavas lost $1.5 Billion in 14 months

Ranking at the number one gambling loss of all time is Harry Kakavas who in five and a half hours, lost $164 million, after betting $300,000 per hand.

Harry Kakavas suffers from a problem gambling addiction, and his legal team argued that casinos are taking advantage of this “disability”. Kakavas’s lawyer said “What the evidence demonstrates…is that this was a man who did not and could not control his urge to gamble…”

Like other punters who have suffered gambling losses in casinos, Harry Kakavas is fighting his debts in court. Harry has tried to unsuccessfully recover his losses after losing $20.5 million to a casino, however the court dismissed his claim.