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Charles Barkley Admits to his Gambling Problem

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With sports betting legal in more states than ever before, pro sports leagues are finding out that they need to keep close tabs on athletes and their involvement with betting. NFL wide receiver Calvin Ridley has become the poster boy for this issue after sitting out the entire 2022 season for violating the NFL’s gambling policy. However, pro athletes betting isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s been going on for decades with former NBA star Charles Barkley being a great example.

Barkley has made no secret about the fact that he has had a gambling problem in the past, speaking openly about it in interviews. In fact, he’s never fully relinquished his connection to the gambling and betting worlds. In early 2023, Barkley appeared in a FanDuel commercial, promoting the sports book’s same-game parlays and deals for new customers in states where FanDuel is Legal. He’s now a brand ambassador for FanDuel and joked in the commercial about wanting fans to have the ability to bet on their favorite players back when he was still a player.

Of course, it’s debatable whether Barkley’s gambling is a laughing matter. He has openly admitted to losing as much as $20 million in his lifetime gambling. In one instance, Barkley lost as much as $2.5 million in less than seven hours playing blackjack. Despite such heavy losses on his gambling record, Barkley resisted any suggestion that his gambling was a problem, primarily because he had enough money to absorb such losses.

“It’s not a problem. If you’re a drug addict or an alcoholic, those are problems,” Barkley told his TNT colleague Ernie Johnson when questioned about his gambling. “I gamble for too much money. As long as I can continue to do it I don’t think it’s a problem. Do I think it’s a bad habit? Yes, I think it’s a bad habit. Am I going to continue to do it? Yes, I’m going to continue to do it.”

At one point, Barkley lost so much money that he actually flaked on a $400,000 debt to the Wynn Las Vegas casino in 2008. The casino had to file a civil complaint against Barkley in order to get it. However, Barkley quickly settled up and claimed that the debt slipped his mind. It was only after this event that Barkley started to realize that his gambling might actually be a problem.

“I’ve got to stop gambling,” Barkley proclaimed on an NBA pre-game show on TNT. “I am not going to gamble anymore. For right now, the next year or two, I’m not going to gamble.” Barkley finally concluded: “Just because I can afford to lose money doesn’t mean I should do it.”

Given his history with gambling, Barkley’s relationship with FanDuel is certainly a little surprising and ironic. In his defense, Barkley’s willingness to talk about his past issues in this area can potentially help other athletes avoid similar mistakes. Barkley has done that in other ways as well, offering advice to young NBA starlet Zion Williamson, who like Barkley has struggled to maintain a healthy playing weight. This is a sign that Barkley is trying to use his flaws and past mistakes to help the current generation of athletes avoid similar pitfalls.

Editor-in-Chief at DroidJournal. A tech-enthusiast, guitarist, and an anime fanboy!

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