12 Pro Athletes with Gambling Addiction and Their Stories


According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, around 85% of adult Americans have gambled at least once during the course of their lives. Also, 60% participated in this activity last year alone. Of course, not all of them have a gambling problem. However, some who do aren’t willing to come clean about their urge. They might end up falling further down the rabbit hole and neglect any negative consequences this exerts on their life.

What they need to realize is that those with gambling addiction come from all walks of life. You can find them in many different fields, including sports. Although a number of professional players make millions of dollars, some of them have a tendency to squander their money away. So let’s take a look at 12 athletes with gambling problems.

1. Pete Rose

The first person that comes to mind is Pete Rose, a former baseball player and manager. He’s famous for some awe-inspiring records in the Major League Baseball. At the same time, he’s notorious for his addiction, which took a toll on his impressive career. Namely, it was discovered that he was bent on sports betting, primarily on baseball. Rose even placed a wager against the Reds — the team he was playing for at the time. Sometimes, he would even bet $10,000 per day. All of his records were forgotten, and he was suspended because of this. Ultimately, he was permanently banned from ever being eligible to be inducted in the Hall of Fame.

2. Alex Rodriguez

Fearing another Pete Rose episode, the MLB goes above and beyond to nip any similar behavior in the bud. They even warned one of their biggest stars, Alex Rodriguez, about some undergrouAthletseAthletesnd poker clubs back in 2005. He was told to stay away from them. About 8 years ago, Rodriguez had a knee injury due to which he wasn’t able to play. This was when many news outlets reported that he had participated in an underground poker tournament. They even implied that, during the course of one game, some participants used cocaine. Rodriguez vehemently denied these allegations.

3. Michael Jordan

There are those who, at the mere mention of basketball, envision Michael Jordan. To them, he is the ultimate professional athlete. Still, even when he was at the height of his basketball career, Jordan found time to gamble. During one of his busiest seasons, he headed to Atlantic City to visit some casinos even though he had an important match against the New York Knicks. He lost $165,000 there over the course of one evening. Jordan’s problems didn’t stop there, as one businessman claimed that the famed professional player owed him $1.25 million. Namely, he beat Michael during a game of golf. Jordan remains one of the known athletes with gambling problems.

4. Charles BarkleyAthletes

Barkley is another former basketball player who has made a name for himself in this sport. Like Jordan, he developed some signs of gambling addiction, which prompted him to lose a substantial amount of money. During an interview with ESPN, he openly confessed that his dependency cost him about $10 million. For instance, playing blackjack resulted in him losing $2.5 million. And during one Super Bowl weekend, his bank account was $700,000 lighter. This caused him to become conscious of the fact that he had a problem, but he continued to gamble. In fact, the Wynn Las Vegas took legal actions against him because of his $400,000 debt.

5. Tiger Woods

Apart from being a golf prodigy, Woods is well-known for his passion for blackjack. He often visits Las Vegas when he is in-between tournaments. Most people know that he frequents the MGM Grand while there. Here, he spends $25,000 per hand during blackjack. Admittedly, there are no reports about his debts or losses. Because of this, many believe that he has mastered this particular game. Some reports state that he has wagered $50 million throughout his career. And if you’re curious, the highest amount he placed while playing blackjack is $200,000.

6. John Daly

One thing is sure — you either love or hate John Daly. He is a type of person who only evokes these two emotions and nothing in-between. If you’re a golf aficionado, then you know that Daly wasn’t able to keep his cool while he was at the golf course. At times, he would stop mid-game, which would earn him a suspension. Yet this was nothing when compared to his off-course behavior. Daly was a habitual and heavy drinker, and on top of that, an inveterate gambler. He left everyone flabbergasted when he claimed that this pastime had cost him $60 million. Aside from this, it’s believed that he had spent $1.5 million on a slot machine once.

7. Paul Hornung

Paul Hornung has gone down in history as one of the best NFL players. Nevertheless, it seems that this kind of success always comes with its attendant risks. He couldn’t cope well with his popularity; thus, he began to bet in the early 1960s. He went as far as placing a wager on some NFL games. Hornung would put $500 on different matches, but refused to bet on his team — the Green Bay Packers. When this was made public, he was suspended for the entire season in 1963. The good news was that he was permitted to return to the field. It would seem that his exceptional abilities as a player were enough to save his reputation.

8. Art Schlichter

Although once a pro athlete, Schlichter is infamous for his gambling problems. He had a successful career in the NFL, which began in 1982 and lasted for about a decade. But his frequent visits to casinos took a toll on his professional career. He even squandered away his signing bonus in a matter of days. And by the end of 1982, he had slipped into serious debt which came down to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This was when he exhibited symptoms of gambling addiction. Due to his activities, the NFL decided to suspend him. This meant that he couldn’t fund his addiction anymore. Thus, he turned to some of his friends for money. Today, he is in jail for stealing quite a substantial sum.

9. Michael Vick

It’s not that easy to disregard the story of Michael Vick. This former NFL player had an enviable career, and he even holds some all-time records in this league. After a while, his career came to a standstill when the news about him taking part in a dogfighting ring were exposed. The NFL decided to suspend him even though he was a first-time offender. To some, this seemed to be too harsh. But the league defended their decision by reminding everyone that Vick admitted that he had coughed up a lot of money in casinos. He was released from the Falcons after the court sentenced him to 21 months in jail.

1o. Rick Tocchet

Rick Tocchet is a former ice hockey player who retired in 2002 after a promising career. He is now the coach for the Arizona Coyotes. Before dazzling people with his coaching skills, he became infamous for his ties with a gambling ring. It was revealed that he had even financed it.  Because of this connection, he was prosecuted in 2007. Nonetheless, as this was his first offense, he only received two years of probation. This caused him to take a leave of absence from the NHL. According to some estimates, around $1 million were spent in this ring.

11. Jaromír Jágr

Jaromír Jágr is a professional ice hockey player. Although 47 years old, he continues to show off his skills in the ice rink. Just by looking at him, you wouldn’t infer that he had a gambling problem. In fact, he has been vigorously denying this claim for years and has managed to maintain his version of the truth. However, his story changed in 2003. At that time, he owed about $950,000, which he spent at two online casinos. Honestly, he would’ve continued to talk about his innocence had it not been for one casino owner who went public about Jágr’s debt. Today, he seems to be slowly putting this scandal behind him.

12. Wayne Rooney

Lastly, Rooney is an international soccer star who is admired by many aspiring athletes. Due to his accomplishments, some fans refuse to believe that he had any issues. But one particular detail should convince them otherwise. In other words, he squandered away about £1 million when he was 20. He used to bet on soccer, dogs, and horses. Because of the first sport, he incurred a debt of £700,000. Additionally, some newspapers claimed that he lost almost £100,000 in a casino in Manchester. This story was published in a number of newspapers across the UK. After this, he promised to control his gambling addiction and work on bettering himself.

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