Billy Walters (gambler)

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Billy Walters
Born
William T. Walters

(1946-07-15) July 15, 1946 (age 73)
OccupationProfessional gambler
Net worth US$100 million (June 2014)[1]

William T. "Billy" Walters (born July 15, 1946)[2] is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and retired professional gambler widely regarded as among the most successful sports bettors in Las Vegas, having a winning streak which extended for over 30 years.

Walters grew up poor in the rural town of Munfordville, Kentucky. His father, an auto mechanic, died when Walters was 18 months old. He was raised by his grandmother in a home with no running water or indoor plumbing. His mother, who was an alcoholic, walked out on her son and two daughters shortly after his father’s death. [3]

He is known for his exploits at roulette and sports betting, but in 1987, Walters stopped all gambling other than sports betting and returned to his roots in business. Today, his holding company owns interests in eight car dealerships with one under construction, one golf course on the Las Vegas Strip, a rental-car franchise and a number of commercial properties.[4]

In April 2017, he was found guilty of insider trading after using non-public information from Thomas C. Davis, a board member of Dean Foods. Walters was sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined $10 million.[5][6]

Early life[edit]

Walters credits his grandmother with instilling a strong work ethic. She worked two jobs cleaning houses and washing dishes while raising seven children. At the age of seven, Walters secured a $40 bank loan for a power lawnmower to start a grass-cutting business. At age nine, he secured a second loan for $90 to start a paper route. His grandmother, a devout Baptist, arranged both loans for Walters. [3]

"My grandmother was my entire life. She not only gave me the confidence to be a businessman, she was my role model," Walters stated in a 2016 interview with Automotive News.[4]

His grandmother died when Walters was 13, forcing him to move to Louisville, KY, to be with his mother. There he worked two jobs, one in the morning at a bakery and the second at a gas station in the evenings. He rented a room in the basement from his mother. He married and had a child before graduating high school. The marriage was short-lived.

Gambling career[edit]

Walters started gambling when he was 9 years old, when he bet the money he earned from his paper route on the New York Yankees to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1955 World Series. The Dodgers won and Walters lost the bet, but it did not deter him from gambling. Walters was a losing gambler as late as 1982. He had lost $50,000 by the time he was 22. Walters once lost his house during a game of pitching nickels. The winner did not take possession; Walters agreed to pay off the debt over the next 18 months.

Walters' success changed in his mid to late 30s. In June 1986, Walters requested a freeze-out with Caesars Atlantic City for $2 million at the roulette tables. Walters was known to have lost $1 million at least twice at the Las Vegas blackjack tables. Caesars, however, declined his request. Walters then took his proposition to the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, then known as the Golden Nugget, which was accepted.[7]

Walters and his gambling partner delivered $2 million to the cage at the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel. The pair noticed a wheel bias and bet on the 7-10-20-27-36. After 38 hours of play they won $3,800,000 beating the prior record of $1,280,000 held by Richard W. Jarecki at the San Remo Casino in Monte Carlo in 1971. Three years later his "Syndicate" had won $400,000 at a casino in Las Vegas and an additional $610,000 from Claridge Casino in Atlantic City.[7] Walters also captured the 1986 Super Bowl of Poker, (also known as Amarillo Slim's Super Bowl of Poker or SBOP)) in Lake Tahoe earning $175,000. [8]

Sports betting[edit]

In the 1980s, Walters joined the Computer Group which used computer analysis to analyze sports outcomes. Over a period of 39 years, Walters has suffered only one losing year with a 30-year winning streak. Though he has finished in the red for a few months, he was always in the black by the end of the year. Walters bet on basketball, NFL, and college football. Walters won $3.5 million on Super Bowl XLIV after betting on the New Orleans Saints.[9] Due to his reputation, Walters often placed bets through "runners" so bookmakers would remain unaware of the person behind the bet.[10]

In January 2007, Walters won a $2.2 million bet on University of Southern California defeating University of Michigan which they did 32-18. In 2011, he claimed he could make between $50 to $60 million on a good year.[2] Walters has been indicted by the Nevada Attorney Generals office 4 times, each time the charges were dropped.

Insider trading[edit]

In 2017, Walters was convicted of making $43 million on private information of Dallas-based dairy processing company Dean Foods. Walters' source, company director Thomas C. Davis employing a prepaid cell phone and sometimes the code words "Dallas Cowboys" for Dean Foods, helped him from 2008 to 2014 realize profits and avoid losses in the stock, the Federal jury found. He gained $32 million in profits and avoided $11 million in losses. At the trial, investor Carl C. Icahn was mentioned in relation to Walters’ trading but was not charged with wrongdoing. Golfer Phil Mickelson "was also mentioned during the trial as someone who had traded in Dean Foods shares and once owed nearly $2 million in gambling debts to" Walters. Mickelson "made roughly $1 million trading Dean Foods shares; he agreed to forfeit those profits in a related civil case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission". Walters was sentenced to 5 years in prison and a $10 million fine. His lawyer said the verdict would be appealed.[11][12]

Walters is currently imprisoned at Federal Prison Camp, Pensacola and is scheduled for release on February 14, 2022.

Personal life[edit]

Walters has three children; daughter Tonia, son (Scott) who suffers from a terminal brain tumor and son Derin. Walters is an avid golfer. He claims to have made over $400,000 on one hole and once as much as $1 million in one round, though he admitted to losing a million at blackjack later that night. In his free time, he enjoys playing blackjack, poker, and craps. He opened up about his life in a 2011 interview with 60 Minutes.[13] Walters is a noted philanthropist and has donated to Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas nonprofit for people with intellectual disabilities.[6]

Walters has a private jet worth $20 million and owns seven homes. In June 2014, his net worth was estimated at over $100 million.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rowe, Peter (June 13, 2014). "Billy Walters, gambler extraordinaire". sandiegouniontribune.com. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Berzon, Alexandra (June 3, 2014). "Taste for Risk Fueled Career of Bettor Billy Walters, Now in Trading Probe". WSJ. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Fish, Mike (April 2, 2018). "Billy walters on his conviction, gambling -- and ex-friend Lefty". ESPN. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Lareau, Jamie (July 9, 2016). "Billy Walters: Done gambling, still dealing". Automotive News. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  5. ^ Moynihan, Colin; Moyer, Liz (April 7, 2017). "William T. Walters, Famed Sports Bettor, Is Guilty in Insider Trading Case". nytimes.com. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Erik Larson Bloomberg (July 27, 2017). "Las Vegas gambler Walters gets 5 years in prison, $10M fine". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Russell T. Barnhart (1992). Beating the Wheel: The System That Has Won Over Six Million Dollars from Las Vegas to Monte Carlo. Kensington Publishing Corporation. pp. 101–. ISBN 978-0-8184-0553-2.
  8. ^ "Billy Walters and the Story of the Computer Group". Pregame. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  9. ^ Newman, Eric (February 17, 2012). "The Greatest Sports Bets of All Time". Bleacher Report. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  10. ^ Fish, Mike (February 6, 2015). "Meet the world's most successful gambler". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  11. ^ Calia, Mike (September 6, 2017). "Gambler Billy Walters sentenced to 5 years in 'amateurishly simple' insider-tradingscheme". CNBC. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  12. ^ Larson, Erik (July 27, 2017). "Vegas Gambler Billy Walters Gets 5 Years for Insider Trading". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  13. ^ admin (September 21, 2015). "Billy Walters - A Legend In Sports Betting History". USA Sportsbook Sites. Retrieved March 6, 2018.