Billy Walters personifies the quintessential American success story. Billy Walters grew from very humble beginnings in Munfordville, Kentucky. His father tragically passed away while Billy was still an infant, and his mother, an alcoholic, walked out on her family, leaving Billy in the care of his grandmother. Raised in a house with no indoor plumbing or running water, Billy quickly learned the value of hard work.
Billy was grateful for the sacrifices and hard work of his grandmother, who worked full-time as a house cleaner and at a local restaurant. At age seven, his grandmother helped him secure his very first bank loan of $40 to purchase a lawnmower. Within two years he successfully paid off this loan while helping his grandmother maintain their home, and then he decided to start his next business venture. Billy began waking up at 4:30 am every morning to deliver newspapers before school.
Faith also played a crucial role in Billy’s childhood and left an indelible mark on his life. His grandmother took him to church services and Bible study sessions three days a week. He eventually became a young leader within his church. He reached the level of Ambassador Exemplary in his church youth group.
Billy’s grandmother passed away when he was 13 years old, leaving him with no choice but to find his mother and move in with her and her new family in Louisville. Now remarried to another alcoholic, his mother forced him to live in a small basement room and charged him $10 per week in rent. During this time, Billy suffered verbal abuse and neglect from his mother and her new husband, who would regularly lock themselves in their room for days at a time, drinking to extreme excess.
Escaping Abuse and Starting Adulthood
Billy Walters eventually found relief in the form of a job at the local Davis Doughnut Bakery, where he worked every morning before school from 4:30 am until 7:30 am. He took a second job at the Joe Graves Shell gas station where he worked after school until 11 pm. This hard life taught him valuable lessons, including the value of hard work, self-sufficiency, and perseverance in the face of adversity, even when the majority of his life’s adversity came from the one person who should have loved and protected him the most.
Billy’s faith also shaped the generous, selfless man he would eventually become. Billy’s mother eventually developed emphysema toward the end of her life and, with it, substantial medical bills. When the time came, Billy covered all of her medical expenses and ensured her comfort despite the extensive abuse she inflicted on him as a child. To this day, Billy extols the virtues of unconditional kindness and helping others who are down on their luck.
An Impressive Record as a Professional Gambler
Billy Walters held a love of gambling from a very early age. At the age of seven, his grandmother would take him to his uncle’s pool hall where he would bet on games of 9-ball for pennies. Eventually, he developed an interest in betting on professional sports. He made his first sizeable bet at ten years old, betting a local grocer $125 on the New York Yankees to win against the Brooklyn Dodgers at the World Series. They lost, and this became an early lesson for Billy.
Billy would later move through various jobs, eventually becoming a very successful auto salesman. He started his own dealership, Taylor Boulevard Auto Sales, and built it into a success before selling the business and moving to Las Vegas to focus on sports betting. Billy recognized the tremendous value of technology early in his career, using computer systems and advanced analytics to help him handicap sports games. This led to Billy becoming one of the most successful sports gamblers of all time. He also became a renowned card player, winning the No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament in the 1986 World Series of Poker.
From Gambling to Giving Back
In 1988, Billy left non-sports gambling and cards behind to open a new investment business with his wife. The Walters Group eventually grew to thousands of employees and investment holdings in real estate and the golf industry, culminating with the opening of the Bali Hai Golf Club on Sunset Strip.
Over the next several years, Billy Walters built accessible and affordable golf courses around Las Vegas, hosted charity events, and even funded local educational programs and non-profit youth organizations. In 2011, Billy Walters agreed to an interview on 60 Minutes, where he made a compelling case for legalized sports betting and established himself not only as an amazingly successful gambler, but also a selfless philanthropist. Now in his seventies, Billy continues to extol the virtues he has held since childhood – working hard, providing for his family, and offering a helping hand to those who need it most.