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The Largest Gambling Losses by Sports Personalities

Notorious B.I.G. was probably right. More money equals more problems, at least when you are a young millionaire athlete with no idea of how to spend your millions. That’s the case for the following athletes who rose to fame through sports, fell in love with gambling but lost insane amounts of money to casinos and bookmakers.

Eidur Gudjohnsen

Former Chelsea and Iceland striker Eidur Gudjohnsen was a fan favourite at his peak in the 2000s. But then a gambling bug got him, and he began to play roulette and blackjack. Like many gamblers, Eidur started betting small amounts before he became a full-blown high roller.

But in between splurging £2000 per roulette round and playing tens of thousands in blackjack games, the striker lost over £6 million. Lucky for him, he recovered from gambling while still a player. And since he was earning £20,000 per week at Chelsea, he was able to retire with his finances in order.

Paul Merson

Former Arsenal midfielder is another premier league footballer who went from living a millionaire life to sleeping at public parks after gambling took a toll on him. As he explained to the Mirror, Merson would bet “£60,000 here and £80,000 there.”

But when it was all said and done, Merson had gambled away £7 million, including £800,000 of his pension money. Merson was also an alcoholic and a drug addict, two vices that fueled addiction to gambling carelessly.

Charles “Chuck’ Barkley

Many sports personalities who lost a lot of money gambling have sworn never to gamble again. But former NBA forward Charles Barkley is different. Although he never wished to lose over £10 million, the NBA legend once said he was okay with the losses because he could afford it.

He also later became an advocate of legal sports betting in the US. And although the US legalized gambling, the former NBA player has admitted he has since then reduced his gambling budget.

Of course, Barkley isn’t alone in the list of notorious celebrity athlete gamblers. According to, former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and former NFL player Michael Vick also have exciting encounters with gambling. Vick, in particular, got things so wrong that he ended up serving time for two years.

Michael Jordan

As rumour has it, Michael Jordan’s one-year break from the NBA in 1993 was not an attempt at early retirement. The NBA allegedly suspended him for illegal gambling. But if that were true, Michael would have quit gambling after the suspension.

That’s not the case, though. Throughout his career and post-retirement, Jordan has been splurging thousands of dollars on gambling each year. At times, he’s bet rock, paper and scissors games. He’s bet on casual golf courses and refused to pay when he lost, at playoff games, at the airport and Olympic poker.

Paul Hornung

On the pitch, Paul Hornung was a versatile quarterback who would go on to become an NFL legend. But off the field, Paul was a gambler who occasionally bet $500 on American football games. Back in the 60s, $500 was a lot of money, and he ended up getting suspended for a full season.

Lucky for him, though, he never got suspended again despite to continuing with his gambling habits. He later became a Hall of Famer and is revered as an NFL legend to date.

Pete Rose

Legendary baseball player Pete Rose had such an incredible career that he undoubtedly qualifies as a Hall of Famer. Despite that, he's ineligible to be voted in the HOF thanks to a gambling addiction that saw him bet thousands of dollars on teams he played for or managed.

As he has admitted before, Rose felt like he never had what it took to stop betting on baseball. As such, even if he knew what he was doing was wrong, he continued to do it. Sadly, he never did enough to quit betting, and he ended up receiving a lifetime ban from the MLB.

John Daly

Daly is a former golf player who earned over $100 million during his career. But being a gambling addict, Daly lost more than $60 million in ten years. When gambling hit him the most, Daly allegedly gambled $1.5 million away through slot machines.

Surprisingly, Daly has never entirely quit gambling despite his net worth shrinking to $20 million post his golf career. He probably gambles less money. Otherwise, things could go very wrong for him if he gambled as much as he used to.

Rick Tocchet

Tocchet was an excellent hockey player who had a fantastic career until he retired in 2002. Then he got some ideas and launched an illegal gambling ring that got him into trouble with the NHL. Lucky for him, though, he never served time.

Instead, Tocchet only got on probation plus a two-year suspension from the NHL. He later gained an NHL job as a coach in 2008. But based on his narrations, Tocchet’s gambling ring handled about $1 million while it was in operation.

Alex Rodriguez

For some, Rodriguez is the baseball great who admitted to using steroids. Others know him as JLO’s husband. But in between baseball and his celebrity life, Alex was also a notorious poker player. His gambling lifestyle would probably be a secret to date had he not got involved in a gambling ring where people also consumed narcotics.

Of course, Rodriguez never broke any MLB laws, and thus, didn’t receive punishment for his gambling habits. However, the MLB commissioner back then cajoled him and warned him of doing anything detrimental to the team.

Art Schlichter

Schlichter’s gambling lifestyle is perhaps the worst experience by an athlete. After being drafted in the NFL in 1982, the former quarterback began gambling almost immediately. By the end of his rookie year, Art owed people hundreds of thousands of dollars.

After a couple of seasons in the NFL, he got suspended for conning his friends and strangers. He got back to football but continued to bet unfettered. Schlichter's addiction became worse after retirement and occasionally robbed people to feed his addiction. He's currently serving a ten-year sentence for robbery.