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Gambler seeks to settle $14.7M in debts

LAS VEGAS, July 3 (UPI) -- Prosecutors say they gave a high roller with $14.7 million in debts to Las Vegas casinos more time to work out a settlement with the casinos.

A hearing on a request by Terrance Watanabe's lawyers to dismiss criminal charges was postponed until July 9, prosecutor Chris Owens said, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Saturday.

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The outcome of the settlement discussions between Harrah's, Watanabe and prosecutors could determine whether the district attorney's office proceeds with criminal charges, Owens said.

Watanabe, a 53-year-old Nebraska philanthropist, is charged with not paying the $14.7 million in markers from 2007 bets at Caesars Palace and Rio.

In a lawsuit, Watanabe alleges Harrah's Entertainment, the world's biggest gaming company, broke the law by encouraging him to gamble millions while keeping him intoxicated at the two casinos it owns.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board is investigation the allegation, the Review-Journal said.

Watanabe's lead attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, and Harrah spokesman Gary Thompson declined comment after a 20-minute meeting Friday in a judge's chambers.

Watanabe is free on $1.5 million bail.

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