Gambling is one of those hobbies which is perfectly fine when done in moderation, but can be horrifically damaging if you become addicted to it. Going to the casino once a month and dropping $100 with friends is one thing — people spend that on nights out or trips to the movie theaters. But if you’re going by yourself each and every night and dropping tons of cash, it can be an issue.
No one is immune to catching the gambling bug, and many different professional athletes have fallen victim to this particular addiction. Perhaps due to their enormous salaries, they don’t seem to worry about how much they lose or how they’re spending their money. Those overdue gambling bills can add up in a hurry! Plus, there’s the ethical dilemma of pro athletes potentially gambling on sports, a big no-no when it comes to concerns of match fixing or organized crime involvement.
This article will look at 10 athletes with notorious gambling problems, who gambled more away in their careers than most people will see in their entire lives!
10. Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney is a talented footballer who has played for Manchester United, Everton, and even captained the England National Team. At one point he was arguably the biggest star in the world of soccer. Despite only being in his early 30s, Rooney has already been through a ton of massive gambling problems throughout his life. When he was barely 20-years-old, he had already amassed over a million dollars of debt due to gambling on soccer, horses, and dogs. It was also reported that he once lost $100,000 in barely two hours at a casino. These stories made national headlines thanks the tabloid culture in the U.K. and Rooney promised he would work on his gambling issues. He seemingly is doing better for himself now, thankfully.
9. Art Schlichter
There are few athletes out there who have dealt with gambling problems for as long as Schlichter did. He was drafted in 1982 and played sparingly in the NFL and other leagues for about a decade. While he was a pro athlete, he is by far better known for his gambling habits that spanned four decades. His signing bonus was gone almost immediately and he was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt before the end of his first year. He was eventually even suspended by the NFL for gambling, and routinely conned both friends and strangers out of money to feed his addiction. Since his retirement from football, he had been arrested many different times for all different kinds of crimes. He is currently serving a decade in prison for stealing thousands of dollars.
8. Paul Hornung
Paul Hornung is without a doubt one of the best and most versatile players in the history of the NFL. However, one thing about the former Green Bay Packers quarterback that you might not know is that he had a major gambling issue during his career. Back in the 60s, gambling was a huge problem in the NFL and Hornung was one of the worst. He actually bet on NFL games and would often bet $500 a game (which was a lot of money back then), which was obviously not allowed. As a result, he was suspended for the entire 1963 season, and is lucky that he wasn’t banned forever. While the former Heisman Trophy winner will always go down as one of the best on the field, this is a definitely black mark on his resume.
7. Charles Barkley
Many younger people will know Charles Barkley as the hilarious analyst on Inside the NBA. But at one point, he was one of the most powerful and tenacious rebounders in the NBA. He was also a great scorer and just a hard-nosed player who was very versatile on the court. Off the court, however, he had a major vice that was eating away at a lot of his career earnings. In total, Barkley estimates he has lost about $10 million thanks to gambling, and admits that he has a huge problem. While he has said on multiple occasions that he is going to stop, we are unsure if he will be able to stay away, considering his long history of addiction. He has even been sued recently by Vegas casinos for unpaid gambling debts to the tune of $400,000.
6. Floyd Mayweather
While Floyd Mayweather is rolling in more cash than almost any other athlete in the world, he is not known for being the best manager of his money. Whether it is cars, diamonds, clothes, shoes, or anything else, Floyd loves to show off his wealth. One of the ways he does that is posting on Instagram about his massive betting habits. There have been many photos circulated around the internet showing Floyd making hundreds of thousands (or million) dollar bets on sporting events. We bet he doesn’t make a habit of posting the losing tickets on his Instagram page, though. While gambling isn’t a huge problem for Floyd at the moment, his bets are so big that if they begin to occur more frequently and he loses, he could lose a lot of coin over time. Plus he seems to keep forgetting to pay his taxes, so maybe he should take some of gambling money and get right with Uncle Sam.
5. Jaromir Jagr
Jaromir Jagr is one of the true ageless wonders in the sports world. It seems like he might lace up the skates until he’s 50, as long as he can find a team willing to pay him. However, one thing that isn’t as well-known about him is that he has had some major issues with gambling in the past. While he originally denied it, he later admitted to paying roughly $1 million in unpaid gambling debt to a few online gambling websites. While this one isn’t as cut and dry as many of the others on this list, and over two decades in the NHL certainly gives Jagr the cash to afford it, $1 million on online gambling is no joke. Who knows, it could easily be higher than that.
4. Rick Tocchet
Rick Tocchet was a very versatile hockey player that hung up his skates for good back in 2002, after a pretty solid career. Since then, he has stayed active in the hockey world by being a coach and an analyst. However, he also spent some time as a bookmaker and head of an illegal gambling ring, which is pretty frowned upon in pro sports. His involvement in this ring ended with him on probation and forced him to take a two-year leave of absence from the NHL, although he eventually resurfaced in 2008 to coach the Tampa Bay Lightning and later took a job as the Arizona Coyotes bench boss. In total, it is believed that about $1 million circulated through the ring, which also inexplicably included Janet Jones aka Mrs. Wayne Gretzky. It was a huge scandal at the time.
3. Michael Jordan
That’s right, the best basketball player of all time was also a big-time gambler. There is a laundry list of stories about Jordan betting thousands (or even millions) at casinos and golf courses. While a lot of guys get better once they have retired, Jordan seems to have gotten worse. No one really knows how much he is betting, but it’s likely a lot. He can afford it, at least, as he is worth hundreds of millions of dollars stemming from his Nike line and his ownership of the Charlotte Hornets. But still, gambling can eventually make the richest man poor. There’s also that unproven conspiracy theory that the reason Jordan stepped away from the NBA for a few years to try his hand at a pro baseball career is so the NBA wouldn’t have to publicly suspend him for his gambling infractions.
2. John Daly
John Daly is not only one of the most unique golfers of all-time, but one of the most unique athletes in general. He is quite the character and has a laundry list of vices from smoking to drinking to gambling. However, gambling is far and away his biggest indiscretion. He has claimed that he lost as much a $60 million to gambling within a decade-or-so long period. There is one legendary tale that he once lost over $1.5 million in five hours playing slots that cost $5,000 a spin. While he has slowed down his gambling, he hasn’t given it up completely. You never know, we might see him fall back into his old ways one day. Hopefully not, though.
1. Pete Rose
While many other pro athletes have had big problems with gambling, none have paid as big a price as Pete Rose. Rose is a legendary baseball player (still the all-time hits leader), but some younger fans simply know about him because he bet on baseball. He bet a lot. And sometimes on his own team. He did this a ton of times (especially while he was manager of the Reds) and often bet at least $10,000 each and every day. Rose’s punishment was monumental, as he was permanently banned from the MLB and is the only living person to be ineligible to be voted into the Hall of Fame, despite his amazing career on the field. He is a true example of how gambling problems can have severe and major implications on your life.