Highlights include a tennis star blowing his winnings at blackjack and a footballer being stripped of his poker “ambassador” title for biting a fellow player.
Sometimes, gambling news can be the source of some ridiculous stories. Whether they’re talking about spectacular winnings caused by faulty slot machines, celebrities struggling with their gambling addiction, or casino customers doing extreme things to pay off their debts, these stories range from funny to outrageous or tragic.
June had a little bit of everything and the World Cup has helped produced some of the most popular stories this month. Let’s take a look at seven of the most entertaining or shocking news from the last month:
7. In a slander case between Joe Francis, who founded “Girls Gone Wild”, and Las Vegas casino owner Steve Wynn, a court in Los Angeles ruled in favor of the latter and ordered Francis to pay his $19 million for defamation.
It all started years ago, when Francis claimed the casino owner threatened to kill him and have him buried in the desert, after piling up a $2 million debt at his casino. Francis said he received the threats by email, but Wynn denied the claims and sued him, asking $40 million for defamation. The amount was cut down to $19 million.
6. After making the semifinals of the French Open and winning $557,000, professional tennis player Ernests Gulbis lost every last cent of his cash prize at blackjack. He said he was so angry about losing to Novak Djokovic and having to leave the tournament that he took it all out at a Latvian casino, where he bet all his money and blew it.
5. All the goals scored in this year’s World Cup, the supposedly unfair referee rulings, all the tears of joy or sorrow shed by football fans pale in front of the Luis Suárez episode.
The professional soccer player from Uruguay was an ambassador of the Gibraltar-licensed 888 gambling company, which operates several online poker sites in the European Union. This was until Suárez was accused of biting Italian fellow player Giorgio Chiellini and banned from the game for several months.
The Uruguay player has a different approach to football – sinking his teeth into his rivals – and was found guilty of biting for the third time. It was at this point that 888 decided to terminate the whole “ambassador” deal.
4. On a more positive note, a gambler in Las Vegas almost ended up losing $350,000 on the match between Iran and Argentina and almost ended up losing it all. He was saved at the last minute by a fortunate goal scored by Lionel Messi.
An ESPN report said: “An unnamed better staked $230,000 on Argentina to beat Iran at a William Hill outlet at Las Vegas’ Tuscany Casino. Such were the short odds of such a bet, it would only return a profit of $20,000. According to company spokesman Michael Grodsky, it was the largest wager on the World Cup taken by William Hill, but that did not stop the same customer returning to put another $120,000 on the same outcome.”
3. When things get out of control, gamblers will do the strangest things to get their hands on money and feed their betting habits.
A man from Pennsylvania who confessed to being addicted to blackjack, slots, sports betting and scratch-off lottery tickets went as far as stealing nearly 100 tons of copper from his former employer. Why go with metal when you can steal cash, you ask? Well the amount of copper he took was valued at more than $730,000.
The man had an interesting technique, too. Over a period of 17 months, he allegedly made 164 trips to a recycling center, selling copper wire.
2. Here’s another guy who proved to be very inventive in his actions to get some extra gambling money. The administrator of an organization which raises funds for the University of Hawaii wrote a fake scholarship for the Manoa campus and siphoned off the money to pay his $2,000 debt to a bookie.
Dodge Watson was accused of identity theft and pleaded guilty in front of the court, thus avoiding more serious charges of money laundering and running an illegal internet gambling business.
1. Poker Princess Molly Bloom, who is known for hosting high-stakes underground poker games for celebrities, finally published her book “Molly’s Game”. Newspapers say it’s an interesting read full of spicy details about the gambling habits of famous people.
One particular story in the book tells how Tobey Maguire once asked Molly Bloom to “bark like a seal who wants a fish” for a $1,000 chip. Bloom revealed that Maguire was “the worst tipper” despite consistently winning large amounts of money.