8 Pro-Athletes with Outrageous Gambling Addictions

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

There are plenty of people who can enjoy an occasional night of gambling, but the hobby can turn into a full-blown addiction for some.

It becomes a problem when the person has a psychological urge to gamble, despite knowing it will increase their financial strain or make them feel upset if they lose money.

Other signs of a gambling addiction include accumulating debt as a result, borrowing money to gamble despite debts, or taking time off to work to do so.

High-powered public figures aren’t immune to gambling problems either. Former golf champion John Daly has been open about his gambling addiction, but recently shocked his supporters by revealing just how severe the problem was. The 1991 PGA Championship winner revealed that he blew through $55 million between 1991 and 2007.

Daly blew through $90 million in gambling losses, compared to just $35 million in winnings. Some of his gambling days were particularly epic, including one instance in 2006 where he gambled away $1.65 million in just five hours. But shockingly, the huge financial loss hasn’t convinced him to swear off gambling completely.

“Now if I gamble, I play the $25 slots,” said Daly, who used to routinely hit the $5,000 slots. “If I hit something, I might move up to $100. But I don’t do what I used to do anymore.”

However, Daly isn’t the only pro athlete to publicly battle with a gambling addiction. Here are seven other famous athletes who have rolled the dice a few too many times.

Pete Rose: The only living player ineligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame, Rose was accused of betting 52 Cincinnati Reds game in 1987, where he wagered a minimum of $10,000 per day. Although there were accusations he bet against his team, Rose denied this and said he bet on the Reds “every night.” The manager accepted a permanent ban from baseball in 1989 and began treatment for his gambling addiction.

Michael Jordan: The basketball legend has become notorious for high-stakes gambling since his retirement. He admitted losing $165,000 during a heavy night at an Atlantic City casino in 1993, while a San Diego businessman also claimed that the NBA champion owed him $1.25 million over a game of golf.


Also Read: How is Technology Innovation Impacting Gambling Addiction?

Charles Barkley: The former basketball star admitted in 2006 that he had lost over $10 million due to his ongoing gambling habit, including $700,000 on bets during one Super Bowl and $2.5 million during a game of blackjack. After The Wynn in Las Vegas sued him in 2008 for $400,000 in unpaid gambling debts, Barkley publicly declared that he would no longer gamble.

Art Schlichter: The gambling addiction of this Indianapolis Colts draft pick effectively ruined what was a promising football career. After ending his career in 1985 with $700,000 in debt from gambling, he was arrested in 1987 for taking part in a multi-million dollar sports betting scheme. Schlichter has committed more than 20 felonies since then; in January 2012, he was charged with violating the terms of his house arrest stemming from a million-dollar ticket scam by failing drug tests and is guaranteed to serve prison time.


Also Read: Should Ben Affleck Get Help for Gambling Addiction?

Wayne Rooney: The soccer star has publicly struggled with gambling addiction for years, accumulating over $1 million in debt by the age of 20 and blowing over $100,000 in two hours at a British casino in 2008. After that incident made headlines, he pledged to control his gambling in the future.

Rick Tocchet: The former hockey star took a leave of absence from the NHL after he was exposed as the main funder of a nationwide sports gambling ring, which had more than $1 million circulated through. He pleaded guilty in May 2007 to conspiracy and promoting gambling and was sentenced to two years of probation. The following year, he returned to the NHL as an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Paul Hornung: In the early ’60s, the Green Bay Packers star was suspended by the NFL for betting upwards of $500 on games. However, his openness about his gambling problem led only to him being suspended for the 1963 season and he returned the following year.


If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, take action today. Our toll-free helpline can connect you to the best gambling addiction treatment centers. We’re available around the clock at 1-888-366-3510.

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