Shaquille O’Neal, mostly known as Shaq, is famous for his success in basketball, business, and TV. However, the WynnBet brand ambassador’s involvement with the infamous defunct crypto exchange FTX may land him in hot water. Shaq has allegedly been avoiding his court summons in the FTX court case.
Because FTX was not registered in the US, affected customers couldn’t go after it in America. However, in a Florida federal court, they sued Shaq and other US-based celebrities promoting or investing in the company. But unlike the rest of the defendants in the class action suit, O’Neal has allegedly avoided being served.
What makes the case a bit more sensitive for Shaq is the former NBA star is also a brand ambassador and strategic consultant for a US online gambling operator, WynnBet. That’s because crypto is kryptonite in legal online gambling circles here. Legal US iGaming sites don’t accept cryptocurrency. However, FTX once wanted to enter that game.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs’ law firm claims Shaq has been hiding. It has tried to serve him at his properties, outside TV studios, and even on social media.
Last month, the firm announced it succeeded, but Shaq denies it.
Shaq claims he saw “strangers” as he drove away from his Georgia home, and they “tossed” papers at his car.
Is this Shaq making a bet on how long he can avoid being served? It wouldn’t be surprising, given his love for making bets and involvement with the gambling industry.
Shaq Loves Gambling, But Is This a Losing Bet?
Many famous athletes love to gamble, and O’Neal is no different. He has often admitted that he gambled a lot when he was younger. Now, Shaq says he’s scaled back, and his involvement with gambling is more of an investor or an ambassador role. Shaq promotes WynnBet Casino and Sportsbook in the US and PointsBet in Australia (which got in hot water, too.) But he still gambles.
He said his biggest bet was $1 million, and he won. However, he also has said he once lost $200,000. Recently, he bet his sports broadcast co-analyst Charles Barkley $10,000 to spell “spectacular” correctly (which Barkley did). The two bet each other all the time. Shaq also says he would bet on anything without thinking about it.
However, Shaq may want to consider his next move carefully. Because his alleged refusal to be served his summons may cost him more than his previous bets.
FTX Was Spending Big on Sponsorships, Potentially Looking Into Gambling
FTX wanted a piece of everything. It made deals with the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat, including naming rights to Heat’s arena. It had a deal with the MLB and featured comedian Larry David in a Super Bowl ad in 2022. FTX also attracted many celebrities as investors and promoters, including Tom Brady, Steph Curry, and Shaq, of course.
FTX was also looking into entering the gambling world. It was in talks to purchase Australia-based global online sports betting operator PlayUp for $450 million. However, FTX pulled out, which started a series of troubles for PlayUp.
Meanwhile, considering the nature of cryptocurrency, FTX’s potential move into gambling was perhaps predictable. Plus, Daniel Friedberg, FTX’s “Chief Regulatory Officer,” rings a bell for many people. He has a shady past and was part of the infamous UltimateBet. That was one of the main sites caught in the poker cheating scandals in the 2000s that led to the 2011 Black Friday.
FTX’s Fate Shows That Regulation of Crypto Is Critical
FTX looking for a piece of online gambling is a no-brainer, as gambling and cryptocurrency are not much different. The design of cryptocurrency is to be unregulated and decentralized. Unfortunately, that’s ideal for illegal offshore casinos looking for a quick profit. By offering unregulated, untracked payment sources, these sites provide an opportunity to gamble to people otherwise unable to do so legally.
However, being unregulated comes with a problem. It means people’s money is at risk, as FTX’s demise shows. The Bahama-based crypto exchange says it cannot account for $8.9 billion. That’s a lot of money. It’s the result of no regulatory agency overseeing its actions and spending. An example of both is advertising. Shaq and the others were paid a lot to spread the word about crypto’s promising future.
That’s why legal online casinos in the US don’t use crypto. They’re monitored and regulated by multiple state and federal agencies. Most of them are publicly traded and report their finances to the SEC. Moreover, they use games by reputable developers and are tested by independent auditors. Not everything is perfect, but adequately regulated sites make players’ money safer and their chances of winning real.