Professional Athletes and Gambling

Sports and gambling have always been closely related. After all, sports betting is an essential part of the gambling industry, and it wouldn’t exist without sports. Therefore, most people expect the industry to focus on professional athletes, rather than the other way around. However, what many people don’t know is that lots of professional athletes love various forms of gambling. Even legends like Michael Jordan have their infamous gambling stories, while other athletes lost their careers because of their habits. So, let’s take a look at several professional athletes who are famous for their gambling skills.

Alex RodriguezAlex Rodriguez

Everyone knows Alex Rodriguez as a former pro baseball player and current Jennifer Lopez fiancé. However, in the past, Alex Rodriguez earned himself a bad reputation by participating in illegal high-roller poker games. According to reports, during one such game, there was a fight, while there were mentions of cocaine use as well. This, alongside cheating on his wife, earned Alex Rodriguez the nickname “A-Fraud”.

Michael Jordan

One of the world’s best basketball players and NBA legend Michael Jordan loves being the centre of attention. One way to achieve this after retiring was participating in high-stakes games. His adventures are not a secret as he admitted to losing $165k in a single night in Atlantic City. Another interesting story is related to Richard Esquinas, a businessman. Namely, Esquinas claimed that Michael Jordan owned him $1.25 million for a lost game of golf. This never prevented MJ from keeping enjoying the art of gambling.

Charles Barkley

Another NBA legend shares the love for gambling with his friend Michael Jordan. We’re talking about Charles Barkley, who admitted that gambling was severe a problem for him. Namely, Barkley claimed he lost $2.5 million on blackjack within six hours. That’s only a small share of the $10 million he also mentioned losing back in 2006. However, after a Las Vegas casino sued him for unpaid debts of $400k, “Sir” promised to stop gambling. It remains unknown if he succeeded to keep the promise.

rooneyWayne Rooney

A famous football star found himself in this list of professional athletes who love to gamble as well. Great on the football pitch and naughty outside it, Rooney managed to gamble away around £1 million. Before he earned massive sums of cash, he even generated sports betting debts of £700k. Reportedly, his favourite things were betting on football, horse racing and dog racing. Just when everyone thought he settled down, Rooney spent two hours in a Manchester casino where he gambled away £65,000.

Paul Hornung

Paul Hornug was an NFL star playing for the Packers. He was famous both on and off the field thanks to the scandal related to his NFL betting. Hornung loved betting on NFL games, which many considered unacceptable considering he was a pro player in the league. Reportedly, he used to place up to $500 bets on NFL games. Nonetheless, he remained honest about his betting habits and claimed to never bet on Packers’ games. Despite his claims, Hornung earned a suspension during the 1963 season.

John Daly

John Daly is an American pro golfer who scored 18 professional wins throughout his career. However, he managed to lose a large share of his earnings on gambling. In his autobiography, Daly claimed he lost between $50 and $60 million in 12 years. Knowing his personality and numerous vices, the list of his incidents can go on forever. One of the most shocking ones remains losing $1.65 million within five hours spent on $5k slots.

Art SchlichterArt Schlichter

Following the steps of Paul Hornung, Art Schlichter become another NFL player to receive a suspension because of gambling. However, Schlichter had a much more severe problem than Hornung as he managed to generate $700k in gambling debts. After his NFL career was over, the police arrested Schlichter for participation in a multimillion-dollar sports betting operation. The same year, the ex-pro NFL player pleaded guilty to illegal gambling and got away with probation only. Nonetheless, things didn’t improve for him as he filed for bankruptcy a year later in 1988.

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