Former NBA star Charles Oakley was arrested Thursday night after being accused of trying to cheat the house at the Las Vegas Cosmopolitan casino.
The 54-year old is facing felony fraud charges for allegedly taking back his bet upon realizing he was going to lose. The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) said that Oakley “was suspected of adding to or reducing his wager on a gambling game after the outcome was known.”
Officials have been tight-lipped about details, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that the retired sports star was playing blackjack at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. The bet in question was a $100 chip, a surprisingly small sum to allegedly swipe, considering that Oakley made $47 million during the course of his career.
His move didn’t go unnoticed by the eye-in-the-sky — which is ever watchful of house money — and soon Oakley found himself trying to explain his actions to Cosmopolitan security. Once they had a chance to take a close look at the video footage of the incident, the player was detained and charged with “committing or attempting to commit a fraudulent act in a gaming establishment.”
The Class B felony charge means that Oakley potentially faces one to six years behind bars if convicted. His next court appearance was set for August 7, after he was booked into the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC) and later released.
On the court, Oakley had a reputation as a fiery enforcer, bullying opponents with his 6-foot-8 frame over the course of his 19-year career, ten of which were spent alongside Patrick Ewing’s New York Knicks.
Off the court, his behavior has been just as notorious: this is the second time Oakley has been arrested in recent years.
Oakley was hit with five misdemeanor charges over a televised incident which saw him tussle with Madison Square Garden (MSG) security guards in February of 2017. Oakley was kicked out of the arena and handed a one-year ban from the Garden.
Those charges were later dropped, but Oakley has since filed a defamation lawsuit against MSG and its executive chairman James Dolan. The results of that lawsuit are pending.
As far as this latest incident, Oakley’s lawyer doesn’t sound overly concerned.
“This is not a significant matter and we expect it to be resolved quickly,” Alex Spiro told ESPN.
Oakley isn’t the only NBA star spending time in Las Vegas this summer. Much of the league has taken up residence in Sin City as the NBA Summer League plays out at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavillion. While Oakley has no formal affiliation with the NBA, he does coach a team in the BIG3 pro basketball league.
The NBA Summer League is a showcase for the sports’s top prospects and newest draft picks. Last year’s event was a hit, with more than 127,000 people — a new record — attending the two-week tournament in Vegas.
The elimination tournament tipped off on Wednesday, and the final will be broadcast on ESPN on Tuesday, July 17.
Meanwhile, if you’re in Vegas right now, expect to feel very, very short just walking around the Strip.