Famous Athletes Who Love to Spend Money Betting

April 6, 2020
Famous athlletes with gambling problems

Even though nowadays professional athletes have enormous salaries, and some of them make millions, it is not rare that specific individuals have problems with gambling and don’t spend their money wisely.

Of course, there are positive examples. Such as soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, NBA superstar LeBron James, and professional wrestler John Cena. Who all donate vast amounts of money every year to some charitable foundations.

And while some athletes make donations or smart investments with their hard-earned money, a small number of pro athletes decide to visit online casinos and sportsbooks.

These visits don’t finish victorious in most cases. And there are many stories about athletes losing massive amounts of money betting and gambling.

We made a list of most popular athletes that had (or still have) bad betting habits. Here is the list of the most famous gamblers in sports history!  

?Charles Barkley (ex NBA superstar)

Sir Charles is one of the best basketball players in the past 50 years. Philadelphia 76ers drafted Barkley in 1984, and since then, he established himself as one of the most dominant power forwards in NBA history.

During his 16-year NBA career, he was regarded as one of the best players! But also as one of the most controversial players as well.

Although he was one of the best basketball players of his era, he was one of the worst gamblers Las Vegas has ever seen. Barkley admitted numerous times that he has a gambling addiction! And that he lost over the years more than $30 million to sports betting and blackjack gambling.

Even today, Sir Charles enjoys hitting the blackjack tables, or placing wagers on sports events. But much less, as he understood that bad betting habits could cost him, friends and family.  

?Michael Vick (ex NFL QB)

Do you remember Michael Vick? He undoubtedly changed the QB position with his rushing abilities, and during his NFL career, he was named three times to Pro Bowls.

Michael Vick was the first NFL QB ever managed to get 1.000 rushing yards in a single season. And still holds the NFL record for most rushing yards by any QB in history.

But, his career was depleted after he was charged and sentenced to prison time! After he admitted that he played a role in illegal gambling activities. Vick eventually filed the plea agreement admitting to conspiracy in a dogfighting ring that took place in his property. That dogfighting ring included killing the dogs, and gambling.

?Michael Jordan (NBA legend)

There are numerous stories about Jordan and his crazy gambling habits. This legendary basketball player, the six-time NBA champion, and the ultimate leader of the original Dream Team! Made the history on the court, but many times made the headlines because of his of court gambling activities.

It is no secret that Jordan loved to visit brick-and-mortar casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, and one of the most popular stories is one when he managed to lose nearly $5 million in the single night playing craps table in one Las Vegas casino.

Even his former teammates talked about his problematic gambling habits, (inside link towards How to Fight Against Problem Gambling article) as he was prepared to place bets on anything and everything all the time. Once, he even placed the bet on whose luggage will get out first on Portland airport, and actually won that bet.

Many years later, he admitted that he bribed the airport staff to win this bet! But this example just shows how passionate Michael was, and still is, about betting and gambling.


These three athletes are just the tip of an iceberg, as there are a lot of former and still active athletes that love to gamble. Golfer Tyger Woods, soccer player Wayne Rooney, pro basketball player Antoine Walker, and many others have a gambling addiction and spare no money when they start playing. It is unclear why some professional athletes have a craving for betting and gambling, but it is a fact that a fair number of them enjoy sports betting and gambling.  


Are pro athletes allowed to gamble?

No. The professional leagues have a strict policy that prohibits athletes from participating in any form of gambling. Still, many famous athletes in the US had gambling problems. One of the NBA legends, Michael Jordan, loved and still loves to gamble. There is a list of stories about Michael betting a lot of money in casinos and on the golf courses. Many other former and active athletes also had gambling problems such as soccer player Wayne Rooney, NBA legend Charles Barkley and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather.  

Why Michael Jordan retired for the first time?

This is one of the biggest mysteries of modern sports history. After the Chicago Bulls won their third championship ring, Jordan stunned the sporting world by announcing the retirement from professional basketball. But, in fact, during that time, Jordan was under the investigation for his gambling problems, and there is a theory that Jordan and David Stern had a secret agreement. Jordan needed to retire for a while, to save his reputation, and the status of the NBA.   

How does the betting line work?

When the sportsbooks make the lines, their focus is clear. They need to make the lines attractive for people to place wagers on both sides. That way, sportsbooks make the profit from the vigorish (juice, margin).