When you think about it, the world of professional sports at the highest level is not to dissimilar to casino gaming. Each industry is worth billions, attracts millions of fans and players and is highly competitive in its own way.
And of course, the very best in each of these two very different worlds will rise to the top and gain a high degree of fame (or notoriety if they are not quite so popular!).
Therefore, it is perhaps not too surprising to discover that there are a number of people in the wide world of sports that have either famously, or not so famously, proclaimed their love for casino gaming, or certainly at least one type of casino game.
In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the most famous sports stars that enjoy casino gaming, including two Brazilian soccer superstars who not only enjoy casino gaming, but became brand ambassadors at PokerStars as well as some of the most famous names across Basketball, Tennis and Soccer.
Bet with your head, not over it.” If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800-Gambler.
Michael Jordan (Basketball)
Without doubt one of the biggest sporting superstars in history, the former Lakers and Bulls legend was a regular casino patron, routinely playing in Atlantic City. The size of his bets in casinos became the stories of legend. In one report, he is said to have lost $165,000 on a single bet at the casino, but then recouped his losses relatively quickly.
The current darling of the famous Brazilian international soccer team, Neymar is the face of PokerStars in many countries across the world. Given that he is the most expensive footballer ever subject to a transfer between two clubs (Paris St Germain paid over $270m to sign him from Barcelona a few years back), his profile is sky high. Add to that the fact he loves casino gaming, poker in particular, and he is a perfect fit as a brand ambassador for the famous poker and casino site, earning over $21,000 in winnings from Poker.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Boxing)
Arguably the greatest and wealthiest boxer of his generation, Floyd Mayweather is also known to be a fan of sports betting and he regularly Tweets pictures of his betting slips, especially those that land him a big win, such as his win when he backed Dustin Poirier to beat Conor McGregor in their UFC trilogy fight last weekend. As you can expect from “Money” Mayweather, he doesn’t tend to place low value bets!
— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) July 11, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo (Soccer)
The Portuguese superstar is a former PokerStars brand ambassador and admitted as far back as 2015 that he loved playing online poker, although he tends to play for enjoyment rather than to win big money, especially seeing as he already earns hundreds of millions a year from playing soccer. His most famous win came in a head-to-head duel with Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul, with Paul expected to land the win, Ronaldo showed his skills to claim a surprise victory.
Rafael Nadal (Tennis)
Another sporting legend who is famous for his dominance of the French Open tournament in particular is Rafa Nadal, and the Spaniard is another former brand Ambassador for PokerStars. Another player who enjoys the game, rather than actively seeks to make money from it, Nadal’s biggest win came against Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo in a charity game.
Speaking of Ronaldo…No, not Cristiano Ronaldo again, but the other Ronaldo, the famous
Brazilian number 9 who is now retired and who has also been a brand ambassador for PokerStars, as well as attempting to earn himself some money on the professional poker tour. In his day, Ronaldo was a stunning, supremely skilled footballer who would have achieved a lot more in the game barring injury. He has won over $45,700 in his poker career, but earned a great deal more on the soccer field.
Charles Barkley (Basketball)
The former Basketball superstar now turned TV pundit has had something of a love/hate relationship with gambling, incurring some huge losses, as well as some staggering wins. Although he doesn’t gamble in casinos as much as he used to, such as when he won $700,000 in a single weekend in 2007, he still enjoys the occasional wager every so often.
Mario Balotelli (Soccer)
The eccentric and controversial Italian striker may be set for a new career in Turkey, but when he was with Manchester City as a player, he is reported to have won over £25,000 ($34,650) in one evening at the 235 Casino in Manchester, mainly at the roulette table. After his good fortune, he is rumored to have tipped a waiter £1,000 ($1,386) and given the same amount to a homeless person outside the casino.
Wayne Rooney (Soccer)
The former Everton, Manchester United and Washington DC United star is England’s highest ever goalscorer. Now manager at Derby County, when he was at his peak at Manchester United, Rooney was a regular visitor to the casinos in Manchester and once admitted that he had gambled away more than a million pounds before he was aged 25. Now older and a soccer manager, it is believed Wayne doesn’t gamble quite so often as he once did.
James Maddison (Soccer)
The Leicester City star was seemingly very close to becoming a regular for the England national team in 2019 on the back of some excellent performances for his club, but for one England game he was sent home from international duty because he felt ill. However Maddison’s love for Casino gaming came back to haunt him as he was photographed in the casino when supposedly ill at home recuperating. Maddison hasn’t been selected in an England squad since and missed out on Euro 2020 as a result. Oops!