Famous Athlete Gamblers and Their Favourites

Sports gambling is one of the most popular pastimes for lovers of the game. It’s a way for many fans to add something extra to their enjoyment of watching. However, did you know that many of the famous athletes who compete in these games are also fans of gambling? We’re here to list out a few names you are sure to recognise. We discuss how they got into gambling, their time with the hobby, the effect it has had on their lives, and their favourite games to bet on. It may even inspire you to try it out if you want.

Popularity of Online Gambling

The rise in gambling popularity is well-attributed to online casinos. It has an increased presence over the years with access to both sports betting and casino games. A lot of people can even enjoy gambling from anywhere they please, thanks to the development of mobile devices. With this easy accessibility, this is why many athletes who are constantly on the move can get their gambling on. What makes online gambling better is the chance for bonus deals. These can come with many online casinos, offering promotions like bonus buy slots to bring in more customers.

Most Popular Athletes Gamblers

Here are the athlete gamblers we will discuss:

  • Michael Jordan
  • Phil Mickelson
  • John Daly
  • Charles Barkley
  • Pete Rose
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr.
  • Evander Kane

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is one of the most recognised NBA players of our generation. He has publicly made it known how much he loves to gamble. Whether it’s at the casinos or through sports betting, gambling is one of both enjoyment and regret.

A man named Richard Esquinas revealed in a book that Jordan once lost $1.25 million in golfing wagers. Luckily, he turned it around by settling on $300,000. He was a fan of gambling wherever he could, either on the team bus or flying on planes. He almost missed one of his upcoming matches playing until 2:30 am at Chicago casinos.

Phil Mickelson

Phil is a professional golfer who has competed in well-known tournaments. Phil revealed himself as a gambler through an autobiography. The name of the book is called “Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorised) Biography of Golf’s Most Colourful Superstar” by Alan Shipnuck. Gambling was a big part of Phil’s life, with reports being that he won big almost every Sunday in Las Vegas. It was reported that he lost around $40 million in the span of four years. It is also rumoured that he was friends with another notorious gambler, Billy Walters.

John Daly

Yet another golfer who is thrilled by the magic of gambling in sports. This man won a big prize of $12 million during the PGA tour. He gained a lot more money thanks to his golf scholarship and millions of endorsements for his career.

The man had plenty to gamble with, but even that couldn’t save him from his losses. John lost over $60 million between 1991 and 2007. In the years after, this went up to $90 million, leaving him only $35 million in actual winnings. His fastest loss was losing $1.65 million in just five hours in slot machines. For now, it is reported that slot machines are the only gambling he sticks to.

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley is a longtime friend of Michael Jordan and another big name in the NBA. He also shares a love of gambling. He was a particular fan of the table games, including roulette and blackjack. Unfortunately, he didn’t have as much luck as his friend either.

Barkley admitted during his time as an NBA Analyst that he lost more than $10 million. This was between games of blackjack and bets he made during the Super Bowl. Barkley even has unpaid gambling debts in Las Vegas. This led to him being sued by The Wynn for a $400,000 fine.

Pete Rose

This MLB legend perhaps got into more trouble with gambling than many other famous faces. The baseball player was a massive star in the Big Red Machine. He had such confidence in the team that Rose was said to bet on them every night.

This severe gambling addiction had him banned permanently from Baseball in 1989. He was never allowed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and most likely never will be. He spent years undergoing treatment for his gambling addiction. Horse racing is what was his preferred method of betting, but now he can gamble in moderation compared to his early years.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The heavy-hitting boxing star began his humble start in Las Vegas. Mayweather Jr once used gambling to try to make a better start. His boxing career began this way, leading to him being the undefeated champion for many years, with 27 KOs.

He still enjoys betting on sports, even tweeting some of his best wins. He would bet on official leagues such as the NCAAB, NBA, and the NFL, all with his boxing wins. Although he reports his wins, he never talks about his losses. It is unknown if he has any to begin with or if he is simply covering his tracks. Only time will tell if a big loss will ever hit him hard.

Evander Kane

Evander is not only a famed athlete in hockey but a notorious gambler alongside it. The reason why this athlete has gained a bad reputation is because of betting on his own team. The accusation came from his own wife. She even accused the Left Wing of the Western Conference of allowing it, but this was not proven.

The 2019 reports uncovered that Kane had gambled away over $500,000 in Las Vegas casinos. Kane revealed in an interview with ESPN that he had built up a gambling debt of $1.5 million. He eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2021.

Learn about some of the most revered athletes in sports who are also serious gamblers. Uncover their history with gambling outside of their respected profession.

Lessons to Be Learned

While many of these athletes have reported massive losses, this doesn’t have to be your case. Many of these athletes developed gambling addictions from simply not learning about the resources available. Either that, or they have too much money, unlike most players. Players like Pete Rose understand the importance of gambling safety. There are gambling charities you can get in touch with to help prevent any rising gambling issues. Examples include:

Charity Description
GamCare Support for gambling addictions with personalised self-help guides.
GambleAware Cooperates with many organisations to provide the best support, including The National Gambling Support Network.
NCPGambling A privately funded centre which offers a 24-hour confidential helpline.
International Problem Gambling Center Builds specialised treatment for those who meet specific circumstances. They can assess visitors as individuals.


Many of these athletes are still beloved by their fans. Gambling should always remain a simple hobby unless you are willing to commit to it full-time. Athletes should not be judged for taking part in such an activity so long as they are having just as much fun as you are. Always gamble responsibly, and you can decrease the chances of losing as much money as they have. Winning, however, always comes with the luck of the draw and a good promotion. If you want to give it a try, we wish you the best of luck. Bet on your favourite athlete for an extra boost of luck.

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