OPINION: Pro Athletes Gambling ‘Addictions’


OPINION: Pro Athletes Gambling Addictions

Colin O’Neil   |   2022

Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Pete Rose, Calvin Ridley what do all of these pro athletes have in common?  They all have gotten caught gambling, and got in trouble with the league they play in, or they have lost millions of dollars.

If you follow sports then you have probably heard about these players; but, have you heard the stories about these athletes and their gambling addictions and habits?  This article focuses on some of the biggest gamblers in recent sports history.

The first athlete we will talk about is Michael Jordan.  Michael Jordan is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.  Some people know that Jordan gambled, but not all know the extent to which he did it.  The exact amount of money that Jordan lost gambling is not known for certain, but there are rumors that he has lost up to $5 million in just one night at a casino. 

A conspiracy theory is that at one point Jordan’s gambling habits got so bad that he got kicked out of the NBA for 2 seasons; although this has never been confirmed or denied.  When asked about why he gambles, Jordan insisted that he didn’t have a gambling problem, he said, “I have a competition problem.”

The next player that we will talk about is Charles Barkley.  Barkley isn’t known to be as big of a gambler as some of the other athletes in the article, but he has lost just as much if not more money than some of them.  Barkley has admitted to losing over $10 million sports betting, and at one point he lost $2.5 million in just 6 hours

When Barkley has been asked about his gambling habits, he is quoted as saying, “It’s just a stupid bad habit” and “I like to gamble and I’m not going to quit”

The third person we’ll be talking about, and kind of the poster boy for pro-athletes gambling is Pete Rose.  Rose is considered the poster boy because he was permanently banned from Major League Baseball for gambling on games.  In 1989 it was revealed that Rose was betting on his own team’s games, while he was a player and a manager.

Many people and players think that Pete Rose should be unbanned from the MLB, because he is the best player to not be in the MLB hall of fame.  

The final player that we will be talking about, and the most recent player who’s gotten in trouble for gambling, is Calvin Ridley.  Ridley was accused of betting $32,733 this past season on NFL games; $200 of that total was on the Atlanta Falcons, the team he plays for.  Although Ridley sat out almost this whole season, he is still considered to have inside information with the Falcons, so he has to face the consequences for gambling.  

The punishment for gambling on your own team in the NFL is a 17 game suspension, so Calvin Ridley will serve this suspension next year.  When asked if he has a gambling problem Ridley said, “I bet 1500 total, I don’t have a gambling problem.”

So why do so many pro athletes have gambling addictions and habits?  Some research shows that you can be more susceptible to gambling if you have high levels of energy, unreasonable expectations of winning, extremely competitive personalities, or distorted optimism.  All of these are traits of pro athletes,  and because these athletes have so much extra money they can be very prone to try gambling, and possibly become addicted to it.