Famous Swimmers with a Gambling Problem

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Gambling can be a great occasional way to have fun, especially if played in combination with bonuses that reduce the risk of losing money, such as this 12bet Bonus that lets new customers play with a free £35 token.

However, in this article, we want to warn our readers of the dark side of gambling and encourage you to gamble responsibly, by analysing examples of two famous swimmers with a gambling problem. A gambling problem is a serious addiction, that can lead to the financial, social and personal ruin of the people directly affected, as well as members of their closest family.

Michael Phelps started gambling regularly already when he was in high school. He fell in love with poker and dreamed of becoming a professional poker player. He even participated in several professional poker tournaments in Vegas and his best friend from college Jeff Gross was also a professional poker player.

However, his biggest crisis came as he was approaching the end of his stellar swimming career. In 2014 police caught him driving drunk towards the Horseshoe Casino in his hometown of Baltimore. Although Phelps has made total winnings of around $8 000 at the poker tables overall, sources close to him claim he lost millions of dollars to poker. Two years later, Phelps was caught on camera playing poker on his phone ahead of the semi-finals of butterfly at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

However, the Olympian seems to keep things under control, at least for now. Since he retired, he has used his poker passion for charity, he is busier than ever running his foundation, and he plays at live poker tournaments only occasionally and for fun.

Justyn Rees Larcombe has a more dramatic story and swimming for him was a part of the solution. He is a former Army major who lost £750,000 to gambling in 2013. His wife and kids left him, he lost his job, and he was in huge debt. It all started in 2009, with a small online bet placed during a rugby match. He became addicted very soon, placing all kinds of bets online until he gambled away everything he had.

Media coverage of his story made him realize that there are many people in a similar situation and that he could do something to help. In 2014 he was already back on his feet, running a recovery course for people with addictions. He is no longer in debt and his family is back together. He is also an endurance swimmer and fundraiser for charity. In August 2014 he swam the channel for Hemi Help, helping patients with hemiplegia. Larcombe is an inspiring example of how anybody can turn their life around by becoming devoted to a good cause.   

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