The Son of Kerry Packer Makes a Very Large Wager in Las Vegas


Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer was the richest man in Australia when he died. His family made its money in publishing and broadcasting. Kerry inherited the family business and a fortune. Both grew during his stewardship. Packer was a highly regarded and respected business man and he had a true passion for gambling and in the world of gambling he was a legend. Packer is said to have made the largest wagers ever made. For years, Kerry stayed at home in Australia and played the ponies. It is said he sometimes lost a great deal of money, but he never went broke; the same could not be said for the people who booked his bets. In the 1990s, he spread his bets around – particularly in London and Las Vegas.

The stories are always a bit over the top, but wherever he gambled people knew he had been in town. Packer is said to have bankrupted a casino in London and several times he affected the overall revenue figures for Nevada with his wins and losses. On one trip Packer could lose $20 million and on the next trip he might win $25 million. The wins and losses had a bigger impact on the casinos than on Packer.

Kerry Packer, Australia’s richest man and one of the world’s biggest gamblers, has lost £13.6 million during a three-day baccarat binge in Las Vegas. The loss, believed to be one of the biggest witnessed in Las Vegas, brings Packer’s total gambling losses to £27.4 million over the last 10 months. At the close of a three-week session of blackjack at Crockford’s casino in London last September the flamboyant 62-year-old lost £11 million, thought to be the largest single loss in British gambling history. Simon Davis, 31 Aug 2000

My favorite Kerry Packer story comes from the Stratosphere. The Stratosphere was owned by Lyle Berman and Bob Stupak, two of the country’s most famous high-stakes poker players. Well, according to the story Packer was there for a little friendly game of poker with some like-minded people. A Texan in the game was a little annoyed that Packer failed to acknowledge him. The Texan said, “Do you know who I am? I have $66 million dollars!” Without missing a beat Packer pulled out a coin and said, “I’ll flip you for it.”

When Kerry Packer died, his son James inherited the Packer Empire and his father’s love of casinos. James is not the gambler his father was, but I suspect by now he has made a lot more money from gambling than his father did. He learned to like casinos from visits to Las Vegas with his father: “Some of the happiest times I ever saw my dad was times when I was with him in the casinos and he had a good night,” James Packer said. James has converted his father’s media holdings into casinos. His company has casinos in Australia, London, Macau and is expanding into other jurisdictions. James is a good businessman. He has grown the family fortune just as his father had done. Las Vegas is the one exception in a string of successes he has enjoyed in the casino industry. He has lost money in Las Vegas, not won. Twice he invested in Las Vegas casinos and twice he lost.

…development will be Crown’s third try in Las Vegas after Fontainebleau Resorts LLC and Cannery Casino Resorts LLC. failed to prosper. David Fickling, Bloomberg, 8-4-14

James Packer and his company Crown are set to return to the Las Vegas Strip. When the casino opens, it will be like a visit from Kerry Packer. James will likely make a splash just as his father did and this time around, I am betting on James Packer. His wager will be in the billions of dollars, the ante alone was $280 million. James Packer is not the kind of gambler his father was, but a gambler he is and Las Vegas will be as pleased to have him in town as it was when his father came town.

Australian billionaire James Packer said he has acquired controlling interest in a nearly 35-acre Strip land parcel and will form a company to build a hotel-casino on the site with former Wynn Las Vegas President Andrew Pascal and investment firm Oaktree Capital Management. Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8-4-14

James Packer is rolling the dice on a new $2 billion casino in Las Vegas that he wants to be the most luxurious on the ­famous gambling strip. The new high-end Las Vegas resort will be based on the same model as his new high rollers’ casino being built at Barangaroo in Sydney — but is likely to be finished first…He said the Sydney and Las Vegas casinos could be “the two coolest things in the world being built”. “You can’t be in the gaming industry and not have a special reverence for Las Vegas; that’s where it all began,” he said. Mathew Benns, Daily Telegraph, 8-4-14

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