Phil Mickelson’s gambling activity has been well-documented in recent years, with the superstar left-handed golfer disclosing his addiction struggles and treatment with Sports Illustrated last year.
“My gambling got to a point of being reckless and embarrassing,” Mickelson told the publication. “I had to address it. And I’ve been addressing it for a number of years. And for hundreds of hours of therapy. I feel good where I’m at there.”
Other details about Mickelson’s sports betting habits came out without Mickelson’s approval, as his former friend and gambling partner Billy Walters revealed details about Mickelson’s wagering in his recently published book.
Monday, Mickelson posted a lengthy note on social media about his gambling and how he’s addressed his problem gambling habits.
Addiction not always a financial issue
“The money wasn’t ever the issue since our financial security has never been threatened, but I was so distracted I wasn’t able to be present with the ones I love and caused a lot of harm,” Mickelson posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This lack of presence has been so hurtful.”
Responsible gambling consultant Brianne Doura-Schawohl, founder and CEO of Doura-Schawohl Consulting, told Sports Handle that the betting and personal life balance Mickelson mentions often goes overlooked.
“Problem gambling is not simply defined or experienced by overspending,” Doura-Schawohl said. “You can struggle with gambling when it consumes too much of your time and negatively impacts balance with life and other responsibilities. Frankly, his candor is refreshing and educational.”
Mickelson elaborated to say he mistook “enablers” for true friends, and hurt his loved ones in the process. Walters alleged in his book that Mickelson wagered more than 7,000 times from 2010-14, including placing an average of nine bets per day in 2011.
“‘You’re here but you’re not with us,’ is something I’ve been told often throughout my addiction,” Mickelson wrote in his Monday post. “It affected those I care about in ways I wasn’t aware or could fully understand. It’s like a hurricane is going on outside and I’m isolated in a shelter oblivious to what was happening.”
Mickelson credits therapy, as well as support from his wife, Amy, in helping him through challenging years. The golfer says he avoids gambling outside the golf course.
“After many years of receiving professional help, not gambling, and being in recovery from my addictions, I’m now able to sit still, be present in the moment and live each day with an inner calm and peace,” Mickelson said. “I still have a lot of cleaning up to do with those I love the most but I’m doing it slowly and as best I can.”
Doura-Schawohl says there’s often a harmful stigma around gambling addiction that can prevent people from seeking help, but comments from people like Mickelson can play a role in slowly erasing that stigma.
“When role models, athletes, highly visible and well-respected individuals speak openly of their struggles, it can help individuals struggling — or affected others — realize that they are not alone,” Doura-Schawohl said. “It also helps educate the wider public that this addiction does not discriminate and all those that are suffering need not be ashamed.”
Mickelson encouraged others to follow responsible gambling best practices when wagering, hoping others can learn from his mistakes to better guide their relationship with wagering.
“This football season and beyond, enjoy yourself with moderation so it doesn’t detract from your ability to be present,” Mickelson said. “In my experience, the moments with the ones you love will be far more remembered than any bet you win or fantasy league triumph.”