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SI's Gambling Today: Billy Walters Released From Prison

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One of the most successful sports bettors in history, Billy Walters, was released early from his five-year prison sentence. It was confirmed, via his attorney, that Walters was classified to be “at-risk” under a Bureau of Prisons program which aims to move inmates to avoid contracting the COVID-19 illness.

The prominent 73-year-old Las Vegas professional gambler was released from a federal prison in Pensacola, Florida and ordered to finish the remainder of sentence in home confinement in his San Diego residence. Walters, perhaps the most-feared sports bettor in the history of Las Vegas sportsbooks, was originally scheduled for release on February 14, 2022.

Back on April 28, SI Gambling shared the news of his possible early release after a report from George Knapp, Chief Investigative Reporter for KLAS TV 8 I-Team in Las Vegas.

Walters, who built an estimated fortune of about $500 million (including his golf courses, auto dealerships and car-rental agencies) almost exclusively from his career as a professional gambler, was convicted of insider trading in early 2017. He was later given a five-year prison sentence and a $10 million fine.

According to Vegas oddsmakers and Walters himself, he has never had a losing year wagering on football and basketball—which enabled him to buy seven homes and a $20 million jet. The lore of Walters, who made a reported $175 million in earnings from 2011 to 2015, grew to public fame outside of betting circles after appearing as the highlighted subject on 60 Minutes on CBS back in 2011. “Walters has built a brain trust of consultants, most of them mathematicians and experts on everything from weather conditions to player injuries.”

In a 2018 interview with ESPN, Walters blamed professional golfer Phil Mickelson for his conviction.

“Here is a guy (Mickelson) that all he had to do was come forward and tell the truth,” Walters told ESPN. "That was all he had to do. The guy wouldn't do that because he was concerned about his image. He was concerned about his endorsements."

Noted in the ESPN piece:

Mickelson transferred nearly $2 million to cover his sports gambling debt to Walters on Sept. 19, 2012 -- a month after his big stock win in Dean Foods. Mickelson was spared criminal charges and an embarrassing court appearance, though the Securities and Exchange Commission later identified him as a "relief defendant" in a civil complaint and required repayment of $930,000 in trading profits and $105,000 in interest.

Walters has donated millions to charities over his lifetime. He makes major donations to "Opportunity Village," which trains intellectually handicapped people to perform jobs in Las Vegas. The project is one that affects him personally, as his son lives with serious brain damage.