Charles Barkley Says Family Ran Underground Casino, Bootlegging Operation

Posted on: December 17, 2023, 12:05h. 

Last updated on: December 18, 2023, 03:27h.

NBA legend Charles Barkley, one of the most colorful players in basketball history, adds lore to his life’s story by disclosing that his family ran an underground casino and bootlegging operation when he was a child in Alabama.

Charles Barkley casino bootlegging
Charles Barkley, seen above, further opens up about his childhood and divulges details of his family’s illegal businesses. Barkley says his mom and stepdad ran a casino and liquor joint out of their home in Alabama. (Image: USA TODAY Sports)

Born in February 1963 in Leeds, Al., Barkley reveals in his new authorized biography by author Timothy Bella that his family participated in illicit activities to make ends meet. The 11-time NBA All-Star and the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 1993 says his family ran card games in the 1960s and early 1970s and sold bootlegged liquor out of their house.

The house was like a casino on the weekend,” Barkley said in Bella’s biography of the titled, Barkley: A Biography. “Guys would come on Friday and drink and gamble until Sunday.”

Barkley’s mother, Charcey Barkley, said she and Charles’ stepdad, Clee Glenn, worked, and Charles also helped at her janitorial job. However, the family still struggled to pay the bills. They eventually turned to a side hustle that involved making their home an illegal gambling and drinking outfit.

“How much money can you make working in a meatpacking factory?” Charcey asked in the book in reference to Clee’s job. “Or working as a maid? So, we sold alcohol.”    

Admitted Gambling Losses

Like many other athletes, including golfers Phil Mickelson and John Daly, boxer Floyd Mayweather, baseball player Pete Rose, and the basketball GOAT Michael Jordan, Barkley has admitted to fancying casinos during his career. In a 2007 interview with ESPN, Barkley conceded to losing at least $20 million.

It’s stupid. It’s a bad habit,” Barkley said at the time. “But I can afford to gamble. I didn’t kill myself when I lost $2.5 million. I like to gamble and I’m not going to quit.”

In a 2015 interview, Barkley told CBS Sports that it had always been his goal in Las Vegas to win $1 million.

“I’d get up to $300,000, $400,000, $500,000, and then lose it all and then a $1 million,” Barkley said. “You can never break the casino. I went to Vegas a bunch of times and won $1 million. Probably 10 times.”

Rags to Riches

But Barkley admitted that he lost $1 million about three times for every time he won $1 million.

Barkley’s story is nonetheless one of rags to riches. He also broke color barriers in Alabama, as he was the first Black child to be born at Leed’s segregated hospital. Barkley’s grandfather, Adolphus Edwards, was a janitor at the hospital and called in a favor to have him delivered there.

Barkley suffered from severe anemia until a full blood transfusion cured him.

“My mom used to always joke — ‘I have no idea what blood they put in your body.'” Barkley told Bella.

FanDuel Ambassador

Barkley has acknowledged that he often failed to keep his gambling in moderation, but that didn’t prevent him from being tapped by one of the largest sportsbooks in the US for a marketing partnership.

In 2020, FanDuel signed Barkley to a multi-year deal to help promote the sports betting platform in the US.

Barkley has since appeared in various advertising content for FanDuel. The sportsbook, along with DraftKings, is a market leader in the sports betting space.