Anyone familiar with the professional NBA basketball league knows the name Charles Barkley, aka Sir Charles and The Round Mound of Rebound. From 1984 to 2000, he played for three NBA teams, winning multiple MVP and All-Star titles throughout. He also used to be one of the worst gamblers Las Vegas has ever known, having admitted to losing millions on sports betting and blackjack.
Barkley’s compulsive gambling habits are no secret to his fans. He’s acknowledged his passion for gambling on many occasions, dating back nearly a decade. In 2006, the retired NBA star told ESPN Sports he had lost “probably $10 million” in bad bets. About $700,000 of that Charles said came from gambling on blackjack and Super Bowl XLI.
At that time, Sir Charles admitted that gambling “is a problem for me.” However, he also went on to say that “I do have a problem, but I don’t consider it a problem because I can afford to gamble.” Barkley called it a “stupid habit”, confessing that he gambles “too much” and “for too much money”. He said he finds sports betting and blackjack to be fun and exciting, and that he is “gonna continue to do it”, but that controlling the gambling problem was critical as he estimated his losses at around $10 million.
Flash forward to 2008, and it’s clear that The Round Mound of Rebound had not yet accomplished that goal. The Wynn Las Vegas filed a civil suit against Charles Barkley for allegedly refusing to repay four $100k casino markers stemming from another failed Super Bowl wager. Barkley responded that he had simply “let the time lapse” by mistake, promptly repaying the $400,000 loan.
More recently, the 11x NBA All-Star participated in a 2-part interview on The Seth Davis Show that aired Jan 8th and 15th in which he discussed his current gambling habits. He said that he does still gamble, but that he took a two year break from sports betting and blackjack tables to clear his head. Barkley says it was the no-holds-barred advice of his closest friends that helped him get control of his compulsive gambling.
“You can never break the casino”, explained Sir Charles when asked why he stopped for two years. “I went to Vegas a bunch of times and won a million dollars in a weekend… probably 10 times. But I’ve also went to Vegas and lost a million probably three-times that much.”
Barkley said that his $30 million in losses were the result of his goal, which was “to win a million dollars” every time he went to Vegas. But most times when he got up to or above $500,000, he would turn around and lose it all, plus the million he’d brought to wager with. Barkley said he was never worried about gambling addiction because if he lost a lot, he would have no problem taking breaks.
The popular sports analyst then explained that his friends convinced him it was okay to gamble again, so long as he stops reaching for the “mythical” goal of $1 million. “Gambling is not your problem,” Barkley recited their advice, “your problem is you’re an idiot.” Sir Charles said he can now enjoy gambling in a responsible manner because he realizes it’s okay to stop after winning, or losing, a couple hundred grand and “still have a good trip.”
Charles told Seth Davis that gambling is “like anything. If you do it in moderation, it’s alright.”