San Diego Ex-Mayor's $1 Billion Gambling Problem

" . . . According to documents filed in court by her lawyers, she turned to gambling to deal with the death of her husband in 1994 and of other close friends and family members. “She began to seek an outlet in gambling,” her lawyer wrote. “The pattern fits the syndrome known as grief gambling.” Ms. O’Connor spent hours at video poker, prosecutors said. In 2009 she sold a luxury hotel she owned in Mendocino County, Calif., for $7 million, but she is suing a German bank and three buyers saying they defrauded her. Banks later foreclosed on the hotel — and on several other properties. Prosecutors say that she took $2,088,000 from her husband’s foundation, which was established in 1966, taking all of its assets and leaving it bankrupt. The foundation gave millions of dollars over the years to organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association and San Diego Hospice. As jaw-dropping as the amounts that Ms. O’Connor wagered — and lost — she is far from being on the top of the list of all-time casino losers. Terry Watanabe, a businessman, lost more than $205 million in Las Vegas, including more than $120 million in 2007 alone. The British media mogul Robert Maxwell once lost £1.5 million, about $2.3 million, in less than three minutes at a London casino. Still, to wager a billion dollars over the course of her nine-year gambling spree, Ms. O’Connor would have had to bet the equivalent of more than $300,000 a day, seven days a week. . . . "

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