12 Jul

Athletes that Gamble: Part 1

With recent stories about golfer Phil Mickelson potentially being involved in money laundering, with suggestions that his activities relate to to sports gambling on offshore websites, as well as new evidence emerging that baseball player Pete Rose bet on games while he was a player, just how widespread is gambling within sports? Well, as you shall discover, these two weren’t the only ones in the sporting world who enjoyed an occasional gamble.

This list focuses on American athletes and it should be noted the only place in the United States to wager legally on individual sporting events is in the state of Nevada. So many athletes resort to using illegal bookmakers and offshore websites, so not only were many of these breaking code of practices within their sports, but they were also breaking the law.

Pete Rose: Pete Rose is currently banned from Major League Baseball for betting on baseball games when he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. For years Rose had denied ever betting on baseball and then, in an effort to get reinstated to the game, he admitted to betting on games as a manager but never as a player. However, new evidence suggests that he was betting on baseball as a player as well. That could severely hurt his chances at reinstatement, but considering he used many illegal bookmakers and gambled for many years, there are those who say he deserves everything he gets.

Floyd Mayweather: Floyd Mayweather is best known as one of the greatest middleweights of all time. He also lives in Nevada and likes to throw money at the sportsbooks. While he has never bet on his own fights (as far as anyone knows) he has placed many large wagers on NFL games and NBA games. He will occasionally go on Twitter and show copies of his winning tickets to his followers. It is reported that one weekend in May 2015, Mayweather won over $800,000 on a variety of sports wagers. Like most gamblers, we hear a lot from Mayweather about his big wins, but it is hard to get accurate information about his losses.

Charles Barkley: Retired NBA star Charles Barkley, who is now a studio host for TNT’s NBA television coverage in the USA, is a major sports and casino gambler. In addition to betting on sports, including reportedly losing $700,000 on the Super Bowl one year, Barkley also likes to play blackjack at the casinos. He admitted in 2006 that he had lost over $10 million dollars gambling. He was sued by Wynn Casino in Las Vegas regarding an unpaid gambling debt. After that episode he stated publicly he would no longer gamble, but whether or not he has kept his word is anybody’s guess.

Michael Jordan: Arguably the greatest NBA player of all time, Michael Jordan is an admitted gambler. He has lost money at casinos and when playing golf for money against fellow high stake gamblers. There is even a rumor that when Michael Jordan retired from the NBA the first time to give the sport of baseball a try, he was actually suspended for gambling. This has never been confirmed, but after a few years away from the game Jordan returned to help the Chicago Bulls win three more NBA titles.

In part two of this article we will look at athletes who have been involved in point shaving scandals and other inappropriate activities.