Prison life and his relationship with Phil Mickelson were two of the many topics that Billy Walters discussed with Brent Musburger, his first interview to promote his book “Gambler: Secrets of a Life at Risk,” due Aug. 15 from publisher Simon & Schuster.
VSiN will be broadcast the interview Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.
The book will detail Walters' life growing up in Kentucky, his move out to Vegas, how he rose to fame as Vegas’ most feared sports bettor, his relationship with Phil Mickelson, his time in prison and much more.
“This isn’t a vanity book,” Walters said in the interview. “I'll let the public decide for themselves whether I was guilty or innocent from their personal standpoint … but this is a real book. When the reader reads it, they're going to see that I've shared everything with them.”
Walters is known most recently for his relationship with Mickelson, which ended after Mickelson and Walters were embroiled in an insider trading scandal that sent Walters to prison.
“I met Phil Mickelson in 2006 at the AT&T Pro-Am on a Sunday,” Walters said. “I was playing with Frederick Clark. And I happened to be paired in the same group with Phil and Steve Lyons. I got a real strong impression that he knew I was because of the first round of golf.”
Walters described him and Mickelson as having a six-year gambling relationship and classified them as “friends,” though he spoke about the relationship in the past tense in the interview.
Walters said he went on a “sabbatical” from sports betting when he went to prison in 2016 and mentored a group of 25 men, whom he regularly keeps in contact with today. He was focused on staying busy while inside, and suffered tragedy when his daughter committed suicide while he was in jail.
“In prison I worked two jobs and my goal was to stay busy 24/7,” Walters said. “On the weekends, fortunately, I had people who work for me visit, and I have many friends and family there. And so sports was the last thing, frankly, I even thought about while I was in prison. I think I got to watch one football game in its entirety, one Super Bowl.”
Due to protocols relating to COVID, Walters was moved to his house in April 2020 to serve the remainder of his five-year sentence, and that sentence was commuted by then-President Donald Trump in January 2021. Walters noted in the interview that he has returned to sports betting since being released.
“I went back in 2021 and redid a lot of the things that we were doing,” Walters noted. “I had to go back and bring a lot of things up to date. And this past year I've been engaged, I've been involved, but not as involved I was. I’m only doing primarily football.”