Barkley Says Gambling's a Problem He Can Afford


May 4, 2006 — -- Talk about gambling sports stars, and the names that come to mind might be former NBA great Michael Jordan, baseball player Pete Rose and football quarterback Art Schlichter.

Add to the list of high-profile athletes who have made a habit of gambling obscene amounts of money, much of which they lose: Golfer John Daly and former basketball star and current television commentator Charles Barkley.

Daly, a fan favorite who is sometimes dubbed the bad boy of golf, reveals in his new book, "If I don't get control of my gambling, it's going to flat out ruin me."

The autobiography, "John Daly, My Life In and Out of the Rough," is about to hit bookshelves nationwide on Monday. In it, Daly discusses accruing between $50 million and $60 million in gambling debts over a period of 10 to 12 years.

"The people around me ... were hoping, of course, that the 'something' would be practicing golf. No such luck," Daly wrote. "What I found was gambling."

He told a story of earning $750,00 when he lost to Tiger Woods in a playoff at the World Golf Championships in San Francisco last fall. Instead of going home, he was drawn to the $5,000 slot machines in Las Vegas, where he lost $1.65 million in five hours.

In an interview with ESPN confronting questions about Daly's gambling revelations, Charles Barkley opened up that he, too, has gambled away too much money, roughly $10 million.

The former NBA star and current TNT commentator maintained he can afford to gamble but that it has become a problem that he's working to solve.

"Do I have a gambling problem? Yeah, I do have a problem, but I don't consider it a problem because I can afford to gamble. It's just a stupid habit that I've got to get under control, because it's just not a good thing to be broke after all these years," he said.

Barkley was just elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame last month after spending 16 years in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets.

Barkley admitted that he's not going to quit gambling and that he needs to reach a happy medium. To reach that happy medium, he said he was going to try betting only $1,000 a hand as opposed to $20,000, so he would be losing only $50,000 instead of millions.

"I've got a lot of money. Thank God. Knock on wood," Barkley candidly told ESPN.

But Barkley and Daly are hardly alone. Gambling extracurriculars don't just appeal to those who play basketball and golf, as history will show.

One of the first names out of sports fans' mouths when they recall gambling athletes of the past is Pete Rose. News of his gambling problems began circulating in 1989. After it was confirmed that Rose had bet on major league games while managing the Cincinnati Reds, he was banned from baseball. Even though his career stats put him among the greatest ever to play the game, his gambling has kept him out of the baseball Hall of Fame.

Jordan, widely regard as the greatest basketball player in history, was plagued by rumors of gambling problems for much of his NBA career. He was a regular at casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and reportedly lost thousands of dollars on indivual holes of golf. Jordan has admitted to being "stupid" in his gambling but said he never jeopardized his livelihood or his family.

And then there's Art Schlichter, the Ohio golden boy whose gambling contributed to him eventually having to file for bankruptcy, and he pleaded guilty to charges including money laundering and unauthorized use of credit cards in January 2001. He is now serving a 15-year prison sentence after claiming to be more than $1 million in debt.

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