Billy Walters and Steve Wynn’s Feud Covered Roulette and Politics
Famed sports bettor Billy Walters (pictured) dropped his explosive new book this week. He has a whole chapter dedicated to his friendship and then feud with disgraced Wynn Resorts casino empire founder Steve Wynn.
Walters says that Wynn played a pivotal role in preventing him from receiving a presidential pardon, in revenge for winning $3.8 million on roulette at the Wynn-owned Golden Nugget in Atlantic City in the late 1980s.
This isn’t the first revelation from Sports Gambling Hall of Fame inductee Walters’ new book. Excerpts from Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk were published last week, detailing the vast gambling habits of Walters’ once long-term friend and three-time Masters-winning golf legend, Phil Mickelson.
Roulette Wheel “Sent to NASA”
In Walters’ book, he dedicates a chapter titled Spinning Wynn’s Wheel to recount the story of his massive roulette win over Wynn.
Walters describes how he and Wynn, once golfing buddies, decided Walters would come to his casino to bet $1 million. That’s if Wynn would see to it that one of the zeroes was removed from the wheel. This alteration would tilt the odds slightly in Walters’ favor.
However, upon arriving at the casino, Walters was informed that barring zeroes was against Atlantic City’s regulations. Walters says he then got drunk and lost the best part of a million playing blackjack.
Despite this setback, Walters and Wynn negotiated the “invention” of a new version of roulette with one zero, especially so that Walters could play his wagering session – now upped to $2 million. On his return to the Golden Nugget, Walters won nearly $4 million in one night.
This victory, according to Walters, marked the beginning of a bitter feud with Wynn, one that continues to this day.
“He [Wynn] sent it to NASA and had them cut it up,” Walters told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, with whom he has been doing a series of promotional interviews leading up to his book release.
“They told him there’s nothing wrong with the wheel. But he’s held a personal grudge ever since then, and it’s because I won the money. It was just that simple.”
The Pardon Controversy
Walters was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 for insider trading.
While he was released in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, his sentence was commuted by then-President Donald Trump on his last day in office in January 2021. However, this commutation was not the full pardon Walters had hoped for, which would have expunged his conviction.
Walters alleges that Wynn, a significant GOP donor and former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, used his influence over Trump to block the pardon.
Walters cites sources who overheard Wynn at a private GOP fundraising retreat, where the casino magnate supposedly bragged about thwarting Walters’ chances for a pardon.
Wynn himself is no stranger to a controversy. He has led a relatively private life since stepping down as head of Wynn Resorts in 2018 after a string of sexual misconduct allegations.
The Wall Street Journal said the allegations represented a “decades-long pattern” when they were revealed. Wynn this year settled for $10 million with Nevada Gaming Control Board and agreed to sever his financial and corporate ties to the Nevada gambling sector.
Despite the $20 million Wynn Resorts paid the NGCB over the incident for its role in covering up the allegations against its founder, Wynn Resorts has continued to post great financial results over the past five years.
Its flagship Wynn Las Vegas property topped Travel + Tourism magazine’s best Las Vegas hotel list in 2023, marking its fourth winning year in a row.