Phil Mickelson Dismisses News about His Alleged Gambling Debts as “A Little Report”
Phil Mickelson, who last month was tied to a $2.75 million debt to an illegal bookie, characterized that news as “a little report” in a press conference this week. Mickelson, a 5-time winner of a major on the PGA, spoke to reporters as he prepared for The Open, the tournament also known as The British Open, which takes place from July 16 to July 19.
In the comments, Phil Mickelson did not appear too concerned about public perceptions about the incident. Law enforcement officials had said the gambler in the case was in no legal jeopardy. Prosecutors go after the organizer of an illegal sports betting scheme, not the gamblers, who often fall victim to unfair transaction fees.
The concern for Phil Mickelson would be public perception, and whether a high stakes gambler would still appeal to the mainstream sports fan. In such cases, endorsement dollars become the underlying concern.
Phil Mickelson’s Quote
The long time world #2 golfer does not appear phases, as he said, “People are going to say things good; they are going to say things bad; they are going to say things true; they are going to say things not true. The fact is I’m comfortable enough with who I am as a person that I don’t feel like I need to comment on every little report that comes out.”
Court Files on Money Laundering
Court documents never revealed the name of the person who made the $2.75 million in payments, but multiple sources at ESPN confirmed that person was Phil Mickelson. It appears that he lost nearly $3 million gambling on major US sports, for which Mickelson is known to enjoy. In years past, he would appear on The Dan Patrick Show on radio to pick weekly NFL games. At the time, he appeared good at picking games, but an illegal bookmaker often charges a 20% vigorish, also known as the vig or the juice.
The documents showed that an unknown person wired a $2.45 million payment to a domestic bank account, then wired another $300 thousand the next day. Then Gregory Silveira of La Quinta, who has been charged and arrested with running an illegal international sports betting ring, moved that money again. Those three transactions are said to be the centerpiece of illegal money laundering charges against Gregory Silveira.
About Gregory Silveira
Gregory Silveira was known in the 1990s as a famous sports betting tout. A tout sells his ability to make correct sports picks. Gamblers purchase their picks, usually in the form of a subscription to a service. The gambler receives these picks, which supposedly win often enough to justify the subscription. The tout essentially does all the work for the gambler, who trades time for money.
How Tout Services Work
The problem with tout services is they are going against bookmakers, who worked full-time for brand name sportsbooks. Often, the most succcessful oddsmakers eventually get picked by the casino’s to work as their handicapper. They use specific measures to set a line for an upcoming game, match, or event. Sportsbook then charges a fee for every transaction. Thus, a tout service is expected to cover the juice plus their own fees and still consistently beat the acknowledged best handicappers in the business.
With that in mind, most tout services cannot do what they claim they can do. Instead, they eventually run out of customers willing to give them a try, perhaps because their reputation becomes known. In the case of Gregory Silveira and his famed Exterminator tout service, that appeared to be the case. Though he was famous for a time, he had faded into obscurity by the 2000s.
Or maybe he simply changed his racket. Gregory Silveira appears to have switched sides, becoming a bookmaker himself. He appears to have parlayed his famed prognostication skills into a life as a bookie for high-priced athletes–or at least one of them.
When Is It Problem Gambling?
As for Phil Mickelson, one can only hope his $2.75 million represents the full sum of his gambling debts, and he has learned his lesson. As the second-most successful golfer in the most lucrative generation of golf yet, Mickelson should be worth a hundred times more than what he spent on a Gregory Silveira’s gambling scheme. If so, then his gambling debts might amount to an expenditure equivalent to a $500 debt for a man with $50,000 in the bank. One can hope that is the extent of his risk.
A number of athletes and ex-athletes are well-known for their gambling habits. Michael Jordan was known to gamble significant amounts during and after his playing career. Jordan’s old friend, Charles Barkley, has spoken on numerous occasions about his gambling habits.
Charles Barkley on Gambling
Barkley once told Seth Davis of Campus Insiders, “I went to Vegas a bunch of times and won a million dollars. Probably 10 times. But I’ve also went to Vegas and lost a million probably three times as much.”
Saying he learned to stop when he reached a moderate level of failure (defined by Barkley as $200,000), Sir Charles said, “You know, it’s like anything, if you do it in moderation it’s alright. And now with my gambling, ’cause I love it. I love the action, I love the juice. But I just learned to do it in moderation.“