William T. Walters 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 was born in Alton, Missouri, on November 12, 1934. He started working as a bookie at the age of 18 and soon became one of the most successful operators in the city. Before long, he had amassed a large sum of money and moved to Las Vegas, where he began to make even more bets on sporting events. In the early days of gambling, Walters was one of the pioneers of sports betting with odds that were significantly better than those available to most bettors.
Some called Billy Walters a legend, others called him the most famous gambler in history. No one really knew where he came from or how he got his start gambling, but there was one thing everyone could agree on—Billy Walters was damn good at it. He always had a knack for numbers and a head for strategy, which served him well at the poker table and on the golf course. But it was his extraordinary gift for sports betting that made him famous.
In 1987, Walters stopped all gambling other than sports betting and returned to his roots in business. As of 2016, his holding company owned 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. In 2014, his net worth was estimated at more than $100 million. Walters has also been involved in politics, donating over $1 million to Democratic and Republican candidates, as well as to nonprofit organizations. He is a life member of the American Academy of Achievement and the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors in 2017.
Billy always joked that he was born with a deck of cards in his hand and a lucky streak a mile long. Whatever the case may be, his skills as a gambler were undeniable.For years, Billy ruled the gambling world. He made millions of dollars betting on sports, and his streak showed no signs of slowing down. Everyone wanted to be like Billy, to learn his secrets and replicate his success. But no one could ever figure out how he did it. Billy was always tight-lipped about his methods, which only added to the legend surrounding him. Some people said he had inside information on games, while others speculated that he had developed a sophisticated computer model for predicting outcomes. But no one knew for sure, and Billy wasn’t saying. Over the years, he made headlines for his outrageous bets and even more outrageous winnings. In 1985, he wagered $3.5 million on a golf match between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson and won $1 million.
The answer to many, it seemed, was simple: Billy had been cheating all along. Dozens of witnesses testified against him, claiming that he had rigged games, bribed officials, and even taken money from betting syndicates himself. It was a devastating indictment, and Billy was ultimately convicted on all charges. His career was over, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The Gambling World’s Biggest Mystery
Then, one day, it all came crashing down. Billy was caught up in a major gambling scandal and arrested on federal charges. His trial became a national sensation, with everyone wondering how the once- untouchable gambling legend had fallen so far so fast. Billy had always been a bit of a gambler’s gambler, and his risky bets had finally caught up with him. The prosecutors argued that he was simply out to commit financial fraud, but the jury didn’t believe it. They found Billy guilty on all counts and sent him to prison.
In April 2017, Walters 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. Lawyer Daniel Goldman, then an assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was part of the trial team. Goldman had worked on the case against Bernard Madoff and other high-profile criminals. Afterward, he said that Walters had bribed Davis in order to gain an edge in his betting. Goldman said that Walters had used Davis’s information to make trades that netted him more than $40 million.
Goldman also said that Walters had a wife and children in West Virginia, where he lived while he was working at Dean Foods. He did not mention the fact that his family had been displaced by the recession and were living in a homeless shelter. When asked about his gambling habits, Billy said that he liked to play blackjack and poker. He also said that he had been betting on sports for years. Billy said that he had never had a losing streak, and that he always knew when to walk away from a game.
When asked about his future plans, Billy said that he was going to “take it one day at a time.”
Walters was initially imprisoned at Federal Prison Camp, Pensacola, but was released to home confinement in Carlsbad, California, on May 1, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. His sentence was scheduled to be completed on January 10, 2022, and was commuted by Donald Trump on January 20, 2021. After his release, Walters spoke to the media for the first time, saying he had been treated fairly during his prison sentence. Walters said he would continue to gamble, but would be more careful in the future.