Phil Mickelson Offers Stark Warning to Sports Betters

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Pro golfer Phil Mickelson has been open about his gambling addiction for quite some time now, having admitted to Sports Illustrated last year that he sought therapy after it “got to a point of being reckless and embarrassing.” Now, with fantasy football season kicking off into high gear, the two-time PGA Champion is opening up about his addiction in hopes that it may help others who are struggling.

“Most of you will enjoy this football season with moderation while having lots of fun and entertainment,” Mickelson shared in social media posts on Instagram and X on Monday. “The fantasy leagues will provide banter amongst friends and money won or lost betting won’t affect you. I won’t be betting this year because I crossed the line of moderation and into addiction which isn’t any fun at all.”

The 53-year-old noted that while the money was never an issue thanks to his financial security, that he was so distracted he wasn’t able to be present with loved ones and still ultimately caused a lot of harm. 

“This lack of presence has been so hurtful,” Mickelson explained. “‘You’re here but you’re not with us,’ is something I’ve been told often throughout my addiction. It affected those I care about in ways I wasn’t aware or could fully understand. It’s like a hurricane is going on outside and I’m isolated in a shelter oblivious to what was happening. When I came out there was so much damage to clean up that I just wanted to go back inside and not deal with it.”

Mickelson said that he hoped anyone who might ever cross the line of moderation into addiction wouldn’t “confuse enablers as friends” as he once did. He also credited his wife Amy for supporting him through his “darkest and most difficult times.”

“I couldn’t have gotten through this without her,” he said. “I’m so grateful for her strength in helping us get through the many challenges I’ve created for us. Because of her love, support, and commitment, I’m back on track to being the person I want to be.”

“After many years of receiving professional help, not gambling, and being in recovery from my addictions, I’m now able to sit still, be present in the moment and live each day with an inner calm and peace,” Mickelson continued. “I still have a lot of cleaning up to do with those I love the most but I’m doing it slowly and as best I can.”

“This football season and beyond, enjoy yourself with moderation so it doesn’t detract from your ability to be present,” he added. “In my experience, the moments with the ones you love will be far more remembered than any bet you win or fantasy league triumph.”

Mickelson once again found himself under scrutiny last month when his former friend and professional gambler Billy Walters accused him of attempting to place bets on the U.S. team at the Ryder Cup in 2012. For his part, Mickelson vehemently denied the allegations.

“While it is well known that I always enjoy a friendly wager on the course, I would never undermine the integrity of the game,” he said, adding that he had been “very open” about his gambling addiction and had conveyed remorse, taken responsibility, and sought help.

Americans spent $220 billion on sports betting in the five years since it was widely legalized.

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