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Famous Politicians With Gambling Addictions

Gambling for sport and leisure has been around for hundreds of years, and the highest stakes were always reserved for the upper echelons of society. Gamblers – and gambling addicts – come from all backgrounds, including famous movie stars and celebrities and wealthy entrepreneurs that simply do it for the rush. It should come as no surprise that that same rush appeals to politicians: With great power comes great responsibility, but also great chances of having it go to your head. And when your bankroll is the country’s bankroll, too, gambling addiction is not just a personal problem.

(Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto)

The impact of gambling addiction can vary: Gambling habits can affect all aspects of a person’s life and the lives of those near them. Compulsive gambling has been linked to many societal ills such as theft, criminal involvement, complete bankruptcy, domestic violence, all potentially leading to incarceration.

Politicians are not immune to consequences, either: Here are some of the most notorious political figures of our time that either developed or flirted with a gambling addiction at some point in their lives.

Donald Trump

Although never officially proven, Donald Trump has always been suspected of having a gambling habit by the general public. His track record of running businesses into the ground and frequent bankruptcies are warning signs of someone concealing an addiction. The past few years have made his impulsive and erratic behavior all the more obvious, lending more credibility to the idea that he’s a problem gambler.

Politicians with gambling addictions. Donald TrumpOne day, we may finally have irrefutable evidence that Trump lost millions of dollars to gambling. Instead of admitting defeat, he seems to have continued to pile up debts, hoping his odds would change. Unfortunately for him, both his political and his gambling luck are still on a downward spiral, and the extent of his gambling dues has yet to be revealed.

Oleg Kalyadin

On the other side of the world, there was the case of Oleg Kalyadin, who had to step down from his position in the St. Petersburg government due to gambling. In 2020, a police raid on one of his apartments exposed that Kalyadin had an entire illegal gambling operation set up. Gambling as a player wasn’t enough for him – he took it to the next level and became the casino, too!

The investigation found everything from slot machines to poker and roulette tables on the premises. Kalyadin was already known to be obsessed with online gambling, particularly virtual slot machines, but the extent to which he took his problem was not public knowledge until now. This latest scandal proved without a doubt that Kalyadin was suffering from a severe gambling addiction.

Raj Grewal

The Canadian MP, Raj Grewal, deserves a not-so-honorable mention here. His gambling led to a short hiatus from politics in 2018 to address his addiction. However, instead of returning after treatment, in 2019, he chose to step away from Parliament for good. Personal problems related to his habit were cited as the primary reason.

And how could they not be? Grewal didn’t owe just a few thousand dollars – he had amassed about one million dollars in total gambling debt in a relatively short time before calling it quits. Unfortunately, things didn’t end there, as he was charged four times with breach of trust and once with fraud for receiving millions in personal loans acquired due to his status as MP to pay off gambling debts.

Brendan Horan

New Zealand’s ex-MP, Brendan Horan, is another prime example of why gambling and politics shouldn’t mix. He was accused of stealing money from his own mother after allegedly falling deep into debt thanks to his gambling habit. The case took forever to resolve due to the delicate nature of his crime, and he was cleared of any wrongdoing, but he had already been kicked out of Parliament and his party. He also used public funds to place bets on horse-racing 144 times. While he may not have been convicted, it’s safe to say that gambling has cost Horan quite a bit, as he hasn’t been able to make a political comeback since 2012.

In conclusion, gambling addictions destroy the lives of the rich and the poor alike. High status and political power blur the lines between pastime and problem even more, and many politicians have well-publicized gambling track records. Others are more discrete with their habit, but there’s no doubt that the list of famous politicians with gambling addictions will only keep growing.



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