Updated August 22, 2023 - 1:49 pm
Renowned pro sports bettor Billy Walters calls Steve Wynn his “sworn enemy” in his autobiography and claims the former casino mogul blocked a presidential pardon of Walters’ felony conviction for insider trading.
In Walters’ book “Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk,” which was released Tuesday, he devotes a chapter to “Spinning Wynn’s Wheel,” which details the time he won $3.8 million playing roulette at the Wynn-owned Golden Nugget in Atlantic City.
“When Wynn lost that roulette money to me, you would have thought I’d waltzed into his mansion and put my elbow through one of his Picassos,” Walters writes, referencing the time Wynn did just that in 2006. “Thus marked the beginning of a bitter feud with Steve Wynn that lasts to this day.”
Attempts to reach Wynn were not successful.
Walters writes that he had bought his own roulette wheel, took it apart and realized that it was subject to the same wear and tear as any other mechanical device.
After building a database of thousands of spins on wheels at different casinos, he discovered perceived biases on select ones, and promptly won $2 million playing numbers he liked at Caesars in Lake Tahoe in 1986.
At the time, Walters writes that he and Wynn were golfing buddies at Las Vegas Country Club. During one round, they negotiated a game of roulette at Wynn’s Atlantic City casino in which Walters would put up a $1 million deposit and could bet up to $1,000 per number. In exchange, the house would eliminate one of the zeroes from the wheel.
The deal fell through when Walters arrived at the casino and was informed that it’s against the law in Atlantic City to bar any zeroes.
“So I headed for the bar and proceeded to put a big dent in their Corona supply,” he writes. “I managed to get drunk and lose the entire million dollars at a blackjack table.”
After working out a way with Wynn to bar a zero and negotiating a new game in which he would put up $2 million and bet $2,000 per spin, Walters returned to the Nugget, and betting on the same five numbers — 7, 10, 20, 27 and 36 — he won nearly $4 million in less than 40 hours.
According to Walters, Wynn sent the wheel to the manufacturer to check for a bias. When they found nothing wrong, he supposedly sent it to some NASA scientists.
“He sent it to NASA and had them cut it up,” Walters told the Review-Journal in a recent interview. “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.
“Although all those years went by and I bet his casinos in sports, we never socialized or anything. Clearly, we had a very cold relationship. When I got incarcerated and I was working and trying to get a pardon, I was told on multiple occasions that he blocked my pardon.”
Walters was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 and was released in 2020 to serve the remainder of his sentence at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
His sentence was commuted by former President Donald Trump on his final day in office on Jan. 20, 2021. But Walters didn’t receive a full pardon, which would’ve wiped out the conviction.
“The circumstances surrounding my case, there was a pretty good chance I would’ve been pardoned before I went to prison,” Walters said. “Once I got into prison, I’m sure on multiple occasions that I would’ve been pardoned had it not been blocked.
“It took us a long time to realize and confirm who was blocking it, and it was Steve Wynn. I’ve been told that by multiple people that I believe and I respect, so I have no doubt that he blocked my pardon.”
In his book, Walters writes that Wynn, as former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, “held overwhelming influence over President Trump’s efforts to remain in the White House, as well as my efforts to obtain a pardon.”
Walters writes that he became convinced that Wynn blocked his pardon because of what Wynn said at a private fundraising retreat “attended by a slew of heavyweight Republican donors, including several casino executives.”
“At the retreat, Wynn was overheard bragging about killing my chances for a pardon, his fundraising influence over the president, and the enormous pleasure he took in, essentially, screwing me over,” Walters writes.
Wynn recently ended a long legal fight with Nevada gaming regulators over claims of workplace sexual harassment, agreeing to pay a $10 million fine and cut ties to the industry he helped shape in Las Vegas. Wynn denies ever harassing anyone.
Asked for his thoughts on Wynn’s fall from grace, Walters declined comment.