Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer was larger than life. He was known as an eccentric Australian billionaire who turned his $100 million family estate into a $6.5 billion media empire and also made an impact in the world of cricket with his World Cricket Series.
However, Kerry Packer will always be remembered as an unapologetic gambler, a high baller, who would love betting in online casinos for real money like IgnitionCasino and relished any opportunity to show his skills in gambling.
He experienced life more than most men and left an impression everywhere he went.
Kerry Packer was born to Australian millionaire Sir Frank Packer and his wife Gretel Bullmore in December 1937. At a young age, he suffered from undisclosed dyslexia which made him struggle with his schoolwork and fall behind other children of his age. His father Frank, was famously known as a strict, harsh man, and looked down on his son calling him “the family idiot.”
The cruel nicknames affected Packer’s self-esteem and struggled to maintain close relationships with his parents. Dismissing him as a fool, Frank poured most of his attention on his elder brother Clyde who was earmarked to take over the family business. However, Clyde later left the business following a dispute with Sir Frank two years before he died and Packer became the sole recipient of his father’s wealth.
After taking over at age 37, he expanded his father’s empire to include cattle ranching and property development businesses.
One business venture that defined Packer’s reputation as a shrewd businessman was his entry into the world of cricket. At the time, very few people believed cricket had good commercial potential which made his interest in the sport surprising. He created his own cricketing series called World Series Cricket and used his wealth to contract some of the world’s best cricketing stars to create elite teams.
With his influence in the world of media, he made the game more marketable and broadcast-friendly and was instrumental in making the game what it is today.
His Love For Gambling
Packer didn’t hide his love for gambling. He is fondly remembered as Australia’s greatest gambler. He famously said, “Betting is like a disease, which is not understood by those who do not have it.”
Packer took advantage of his enormous wealth to give himself advantages in the game that most could only dream about. He bet big, lost big, and since he wasn’t a man who liked to lose, he kept betting until he got what he came for. His love for betting in casinos was known to make any casino manager weak in the knees, eager to please and scared not to annoy their favorite customer.
His biggest win took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas while playing blackjack. He placed $250,000 bets across up to eight tables at the same time winning him $20 million in 40 minutes. This win is still one of the most memorable in Vegas gambling history. He also took the crown as the worst loser in history, stealing the unwanted title from Frank Saracakis who lost $13 million playing roulette. In Packer’s case, he went on a three-day losing streak in Crockford London, losing a little over $16.5 million.
Due to the magnitude of his bets, wins, and losses, a single visit from the billionaire could transform a casino for better or worse. If he won big, the casino might find itself losing a lot of money to him. But if he lost, then it was time to celebrate. There were some occasions where he was asked by the casino manager to play somewhere else until the house recovered.
However, Packer’s gambling wasn’t restricted to casino tables. Horse racing was another passion of his and he enjoyed betting on them. He famously placed a wager of close to $1.5 million on Might and Power to win the 1997 Melbourne Cup which he did at odds of $4.50. He also achieved another outstanding win with a quinella bet on Jezabeel to win and Champagne to finish second at odds of $7.00.
But whether he was winning or losing, Packer was known for his generosity to the staff whenever he was playing in casinos. After winning $20 million, he gave $1 million to the MGM staff. On other occasions, he paid the six-figure mortgages of two cocktail waitresses.
Another time, he asked for the dealer to be fired just so she could accept his $80,000 tip and made them rehire her once she accepted it.
However, his generosity wasn’t restricted to casinos. After surviving a heart attack that left him clinically dead for 7 minutes, he donated $2.5 million to ensure all New South Wales ambulances had defibrillators. In addition, he gave $1 million each to all the paramedics who attended to him.
But no one ever beats the house and by the time of his death, Packer had lost over $25 million to casinos and never blinked an eye about his.
A few years before his 68th birthday Packer became very ill after suffering from at least four heart attacks. He suffered from a chronic kidney condition that temporarily got better after he received a kidney donation. However, medical interventions were not enough to save his life.
He passed away on December 26th, 2005 at age 68 and was awarded a state memorial service at the Sydney Opera House.
He is fondly remembered by his wife Roslyn, his son James, and his daughter Gretel, all of whom he had close relationships with.
Fittingly, a casino known as Crown Sydney was opened in his honor but no one knows if it will attract gamblers of the same caliber as Kerry Packer.