NBA Players and Their Love of Gambling


Most people have probably heard about a myriad of stories which indicate that NBA players love to spend their free time in USA casinos. Here, they unwind while betting exorbitant sums of money. Sometimes this transforms into a problem, so much so that they need to find help for their gambling addiction. As you’re going to see, not all of them have been lucky enough to minimize the effects of this dependency. In fact,some were driven to bankruptcy even though they had once had a net worth of $100 million. NBA players – they’re just like us, right?

Now, let’s mention a number of famous gamblers.

Gilbert Arenas

Arenas, also known as Agent Zero or Hibachi, was perceived as an outgoing and fun player by NBA fans. When he was playing, he would showcase his extraordinary skills which earned him great respect. And, outside the court, he would crack the onlookers with his humor. For instance, once he took a shower in his uniform during halftime. Then, he rushed to the court and played the remainder of the game soaking wet. He truly was the life of the party. However, people’s perception of him quickly changed due to certain negative reports.

Agent Zero was embroiled in a scandal that involved guns, gambling, and bruised egos. In other words, he had an altercation with his teammate Javaris Crittenton over some debt. The two of them had played a card game during the course of which Arenas lost. After some time, Crittenton started worrying that Gilbert wouldn’t pay off his debt. This led to a series of unfortunate events, and Crittenton held Arenas at gunpoint. He was going to shoot him in his injured knee if he didn’t cough up the money. Thankfully, this didn’t happen as the other players interfered on time.

Both players were suspended and charged with criminal possession of a weapon. Arenas returned to the court shortly thereafter. In addition, one time he challenged a teammate to see who would score more 3-pointers — Arenas with one hand or Stevenson with two. The winner got $20,000.

Charles Barkley

Moving on to another player who shows how the NBA and gambling are interwoven. Charles Barkley was a prolific player during his NBA career. He is still a loved figure and serves as an analyst whose opinion is held in high esteem. But there’s more to him than meets the eye. You see, Barkley, like his former good friend Michael Jordan, loves to gamble the night away. If you were to see him playing, you would infer that high stakes were involved. Barkley is aware that he might be addicted to gambling. So, kudos to him for not shying away from his issues.

In fact, during an interview on ESPN, the former player acknowledged his gambling addiction. He made headlines after confessing that he had spent $10 million on this pastime. Also, one year, while everyone was relaxing during Super Bowl, Charles was on the edge of his seat. He bet $700,000 on the Colts’ win, but the team ended up losing. Perhaps he realized that his hobby was exerting a negative impact on his life after this.

In total, he lost $2.5 million on blackjack. In one interview, he said that he should strive to wager only $1,000 per each hand, and not $20,000. This would prevent him from losing millions of dollars.

Tyrone Hill

Another player worthy of our mention is Tyrone Hill because of a feud he had with Charles Oakley. The two players enjoyed spending their time gambling against each other. On one particular occasion, they were playing a dice game. And Lady Luck wasn’t on HIll’s side that evening. For this reason, he lost a substantial amount of money. He had to return $54,000 to Oakley, but he failed to do so on time. According to Hill, he paid off this debt before one match against Oakley’s team. He visited a hotel Oakley was staying in the night before the game.

However, Oakley denied that this had happened and went on to dubb Hill a coward for lying. Additionally, he said that he would only accept $108,000 from Hill because of the whole situation. From his part, Tyrone kept quiet and focused solely on the game before him. This further enraged Oakley who hit Hill in the head during practice. The NBA suspended him for one game, and he had to pay a $10,000 fine. But this wasn’t enough to stop the feud from blowing up. Right before one match, Oakley smacked Hill — a move that prompted the officials to exclude both of them from the match. Eventually, Hill returned the money to Oakley.

Allen Iverson

Iverson, aka the Answer, had a promising start. Yet, after some time, he went through a rough patch in his career. He changed three clubs over the course of three years which took a toll on him. Instead of improving his game, he decided to visit some USA casinos and take his anger out on their poor employees. This is probably why he didn’t indulge in online gambling — he needed to have a person in front of him who he would attack and blame. The Detroit News even reported that Iverson was a sore loser who had a tendency to squander his money away. If he had a losing hand, he would throw it at the dealers’ faces and make a scene.

Furthermore, he didn’t know how to deal with his gambling addiction which prompted his wife to file for divorce. During the course of his NBA career, he earned $200 million — the majority of which he used to finance his addiction. Due to his unacceptable behavior, two casinos in Detroit refused to allow him access to their gambling floors.

Moreover, Iverson once went to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, known previously as the Trump Taj Mahal. He got a winning hand during a game of three-card-stud poker. But the dealer mistakenly gave him $10,000 in chips. Realizing this, he asked Iverson if he could have them back, to which Allen replied with a resounding “No”. This lead to a heated discussion between the two. In the end, he had to give the chips back due to the regulations in Atlantic City.

Michael Jordan

The list of NBA famous gamblers wouldn’t be complete without Michael Jordan. There are many stories about his gambling escapades. But the first one that comes to mind is the publicized trip to a casino in Atlantic City. This was just before a match against the New York Knicks. Even though he should have rested before the game, he decided to play baccarat instead. He seems to have been successful at multitasking at this time — he was annihilating his opponents by day, and going against players at night.

Monaco was another destination he frequented. One time he spent hours playing while the rest of the Dream Team was preparing for the Summer Olympics. He could afford this luxury as, when you possess a natural talent, the sky’s the limit for you. Besides this, he likes to spend his time golfing. One of his friends claimed that he had won around $1,000,000 during the course of several golf games against MJ.

Also, the former player Richard Hamilton lost an exorbitant amount of money during a shooting competition he had against Jordan. It was reported that MJ had refused to leave the court until Hamilton brought him the money. The whole team had to wait for almost 90 minutes for this to be over with. We guess this happens when the NBA and gambling get involved.

Charles Oakley

Oakley was a beloved bad boy when he was an active player in the NBA. Admittedly, he was impatient and refused to tolerate other people. Yet, the fans put up with his behavior because of his charm, but confessed that he had a bad temper. Off the court, he reveled in gambling with other players. As you might have inferred from his altercation with Hill, he doesn’t have time nor sympathy for those who didn’t give him his money back ASAP. He would even fight his teammates because of their gambling debts.

More recently, he was arrested in Las Vegas for allegedly committing a fraudulent act. Namely, the Nevada Gaming Control Board suspected that he intentionally reduced or increased his bet at the end of each round. He did this to minimize his losses. Initially, it was reported that he might end up in jail for about six years and pay a $10,000 fine. But he plea-bargained and avoided going to jail altogether. He only faced a $1,000 fine.

Antoine Walker

At the beginning of his career, Walker had a pleasure of learning the basics from one of the greats — Michael Jordan. Everyone hoped that he would pick up only the best from him and then showcase his skills on the court. Some say that this didn’t happen, and that the only thing he seemed to have acquired was Jordan’s love of gambling. It was reported that he even participated in some card games with Jordan and his friends. Bear in mind that, if you want to participate, you would need to cough up $15,000 per hand.

After a successful career, things began to deteriorate for him. He was accused of writing bad checks to a number of USA casinos in 2009. When they bounced back, they decided to sue him. On top of everything else, he filed for bankruptcy even though he had earned $100 million during his career. Also, Caesars Palace and other casinos wanted him to repay them his $800,000 gambling debt. They tried to reach an agreement in court. Ultimately, he evaded jail by entering into a plea deal. Walker remains a famous gambler who experienced all of the negative consequences of this addiction.

As you can see, the players from the NBA and gambling have an interesting history. Some perceive it as an interesting pastime. While others have let it ruin their lives and cause many issues. You shouldn’t follow in their footsteps as they are the prime examples of how things could go wrong if you continue betting. Even though some of them sound like interesting stories, a handful of these fellows faced serious issues.

Why are Athletes Susceptible to Gambling

According to some experts, the life of athletes stresses the importance of competition. In most cases, their competitive nature doesn’t only remain on the court — it exerts influence on all aspects of their lives. And gambling provides an outlet they need to let off steam and compete. In a way, they become addicted to the adrenaline rush. So they look for situations in which they might trigger it. This is when gamblers and their loved ones might start having a falling out.

If a pro athlete begins to haunt the casinos, they can easily get hooked after one win. And, if they lose, this will prompt them to move mountains to win back their money. Normally, a knee-jerk reaction to losing would be to stop playing. However, an athlete would act differently. They might begin to employ various strategies that they think are helpful. Apart from this, they might try to create a situation which could help them score big. This is because they despise the mere thought of a defeat.

Additionally, pro athletes might give it their all while playing a game involving money, just like they would during a match. This is why the players from the NBA and gambling shouldn’t mix together. They might bet more and more and feel shameful for losing. For this reason, they might try to regain control and just continue wagering. This is when addiction forms. And, when it does, they are no longer preoccupied with wins or losses — they just want to escape their reality. If they don’t find out how to stop gambling, then the effects might be devastating.

Lastly, let’s look at some signs of problem gambling among athletes:

  • Obsessed with gambling — constantly thinking about it.
  • Becomes upset when someone points to their addiction.
  • Borrows money to satisfy the urge.
  • Decides to miss out on training so as to visit a gambling venue.
  • Is tense and anxious when not betting their money.
  • Chases losses by wagering more money.
  • Argues with their coaches, friends, and family members because they confront them about their gambling activities.
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