Barkley claims gambling problem has cost him $10M

Updated: May 5, 2006, 9:01 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former NBA star and current TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley revealed his own struggles with gambling in an interview with ESPN after being asked about golfer John Daly, who claims to have lost between $50 million and $60 million in the past 12 years due to gambling.

Charles Barkley
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesBarkley played in the celebrity basketball "New School vs. Old School" poker tournament June 9 in Las Vegas.

Barkley said Wednesday on ESPN that he has lost "probably $10 million" gambling, adding, "It is a problem for me."

"My agent has really worked with me to try to get it where I can go and gamble and have fun," he said. "That's easier said than done.

"Do I have a gambling problem? Yeah, I do have a gambling 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 of these years," he added.

Barkley told ESPN that he's working to solve the problem.

"I gamble too much, I gamble for too much money," he said. "And it's something I have to address ... I am addressing it, that would be the best way to explain it.

"I think the most difficult thing, No. 1, I've got to realize no matter how much I win it ain't a lot -- it's only a lot when I lose. And you always lose. I think it's fun, I think it's exciting. I'm gonna continue to do it but I have to get to a point where I don't try to break the casino 'cause you never can," he said.

Later Wednesday, Barkley seemed to soften his tone.

"It's unfortunate that it has become a story, because I was asked an innocent question about John Daly and I said 'I understand, gambling is a bad habit,'" Barkley said during halftime of TNT's coverage of Game 5 of the Pistons-Bucks series. "I'm going to continue gambling. I like to gamble. It's really nobody's business, because it's my own money, I earned it.

"I never bet on basketball. I only go to the casinos. … One problem I have is that I'm always trying to be honest. When I talked to reporters I was saying 'I understand what John Daly is saying.' I understand that's a lot of money, but it is my money. Nobody has the right to tell me what to do with my money. Like I said, I'm going to continue gambling, because I like it, but I realize I've got to gamble for less."

When asked by TNT basketball host Ernie Johnson if he felt his gambling had become a problem, Barkley answered: "It's not a problem. If you're a drug addict or an alcoholic, those are problems. 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.

"But I've got to understand you can't beat the casino. You might win a lot of money from them, but in the long run they are going to win more money from you, and I've got to get to a point where I don't gamble for as much. That's what I've got to do, because I'm not going to quit gambling because it's my life and it's my money."

Barkley, elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame last month, averaged 22.1 points and nearly 12 rebounds in a 16-year career that included stops in Philadelphia, Phoenix and Houston. He was the league's MVP in 1993, and he won gold at the '92 Barcelona Olympics as part of the original U.S. Dream Team.

Barkley also said that he believes Daly's estimate of losing $50 million to $60 million is high.

"I don't believe him," he said. "First of all, John Daly is one of the nicest athletes I've even met in my life. I could believe he has lost $20 million because think about it ... if he's lost $60 million he'd have to have made $200 million. And I don't think he has made $200 million in his career. I do believe that John has lost $20 million, to be honest with you. I truly believe that. And I wish him luck with our gambling addiction."

In "John Daly: My Life In and Out of the Rough," his autobiography set to be released Monday, Daly said his gambling habit could "flat-out ruin me" if he doesn't get it under control.

Barkley's agent had no comment on Wednesday's interview.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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