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Gambling and Sports, A Match Made in Heaven? Not for These Athletes

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By Stephen Benton

People say gambling and sports go hand in hand. This is true for several branches of the gambling industry, both online and in real life: the whole sports betting business (as its name shows) couldn’t exist without, you know, sports, while the casino business routinely reaches out to sports for inspirations – just take a look at all the great sports-inspired slot machines the All Slots Casino has for its players.

The link between the gambling and sports industry works both ways, though, and on many levels: many sports teams, especially in Europe, have major sports betting and gambling companies as their shirt sponsors. Sports are perhaps the most followed form of entertainment, after all, and a logo seen on a soccer player’s shirt could indeed determine a player to try to learn how to play online blackjack at All Slots casino.

Which is OK, considering that the All Slots is mostly about entertainment – it has games, after all – and all of its services are available over the internet – on a desktop computer or a smartphone, through All Slots Mobile.

Today, in turn, we’ll take a look at another, more personal connection between gambling and sports – specifically, athletes who had at least their personal (and sometimes maybe even their professional) life influenced by gambling. As you might expect, hardly ever in the right direction.

Basketball

Let’s start with retired basketball star Charles Barkley, one of the most dominating power forwards of the NBA. During his active career, he scored 23,757 points (22.1 points per game), he made it 11 times to the NBA All-Stars and won two gold medals as a member of the United States men’s basketball team.

As the same time, Barkley has a strange relationship with the world of gambling. He is a high-roller – he admitted to winning and losing often seven-figure amounts in various casinos. Although for a normal person his habits would’ve seemed reckless, he didn’t see them as a problem at all until he could afford these wins and losses.

That until a Las Vegas casino filed a civil complaint against him for failing to pay a $400,000 debt in 2007. It was then that he was quoted saying “Just because I can afford to lose money doesn’t mean I should do it.”

Other NBA athletes with gambling problems include Michael Jordan, Gilbert Arenas, Allen Iverson, and Antoine Walker.

Baseball

Did you know that Pete Rose, former MLB player, and manager, is the only living player permanently ineligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame? And he has gambling to blame for his status: he allegedly bet 52 times on his team’s games in 1987, placing bets worth anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000 at a time (between approximately $4,300 and $21,000 in today’s money). The investigation on this issue ended with Rose being placed on the permanently ineligible list and beginning therapy to get rid of his gambling addiction.

Other baseball players with gambling issues include Denny McClain and Alex Rodriguez.

European Football

Wayne Rooney is one of the most prominent figures in British soccer today. He is the captain of both the England national team and Manchester United and has a 14-year-long professional career under his belt. He was also the protagonist of a major gambling scandal ten years ago.

Apparently, Rooney had the habit of betting on dogs, horses, and soccer, amassing a debt worth £700,000 (almost $1 million today). The issue was settled amicably between Rooney’s manager and bookmaker but didn’t rid the player of his gambling ways. Two years later, it was reported that he lost £65,000 (over $80,000) in a Manchester casino in just two hours. While this performance surely won’t leave him broke, he still pledged to fight his gambling problems at the time.

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