Schlichter Is Arrested for Gambling : Police Say Former Colt Quarterback Bet $200,000 in 1986

Associated Press

Art Schlichter, who was banned from pro football for a year because of his betting activities, was arrested Friday on a charge of unlawful gambling. The former Colt quarterback was said by police to have bet more than $200,000 on football and baseball games late last year.

Schlichter, 26, was among 13 people charged in a series of gambling arrests by city police.

Police Chief Paul A. Annee said that records seized indicated Schlichter wagered on professional and college football and pro baseball.


Schlichter, the former Ohio State star selected in the first round of the National Football League draft in 1982, missed the 1983 season while serving a one-year league suspension for gambling. The Colts were then in Baltimore.

Schlichter at the time said his gambling had put him “on the path to total self-destruction.”

“I have not only been a compulsive gambler for too long now, it made me a compulsive liar,” he said.

He later underwent treatment in an effort to break his habit.

Schlichter was reinstated for the 1984 season after a meeting with NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and moved with the Colts to Indianapolis, starting in five games. The Colts released him after the fifth game of the 1985 season.

Schlichter turned himself in to Indianapolis authorities early Friday and was released on his own recognizance after being booked.

“He’s all right, I’ll say that,” said Lesa J. Lux, Schlichter’s attorney. “It’s not fun for anyone.”


Lux said she was “not at liberty to say where he is” after he had come to Indianapolis from Ohio to surrender to authorities.

She said she expects that she or Schlichter will make a public statement after they have analyzed the information gathered by police. A court appearance is pending, she said.

Schlichter was charged with a Class B misdemeanor of unlawful gambling. The offense carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The bettors who were arrested are alleged to have wagered more than $519,000 during the time of the investigation, which lasted from September through December 1986.

Six other men were charged with felony counts of promoting professional gambling and corrupt business influence.

“Art Schlichter fit into the scheme of things here as a bettor only,” said David Cook, a Marion County deputy prosecutor.


“That there’s an organization that allows a person to bet that kind of money in that period of time, that’s what concerns us,” Cook said.

Annee said NFL security officials were consulted during the investigation, and that the officials said Schlichter’s alleged betting pattern was “very similar, if not identical to” his previous gambling tendencies.

“The NFL has been tremendously cooperative and supportive of this investigation, especially with the involvement of a former athlete of theirs, particularly an athlete that has gone through this once before and was on the road to recovery,” Annee said.

The police chief said Schlichter was released without having to post bond because this is the first criminal gambling charge lodged against him.

Police said they launched the investigation because they feared Indianapolis is becoming an active gambling center, with the influx of amateur sports championships and the arrival of the Colts.

“We’re very concerned that organized crime not get any kind of a foothold in this county,” Annee said.


Schlichter was signed last June as a free agent by the Buffalo Bills, but failed to earn a spot on the team. He currently is a sales representative for a Columbus, Ohio-based credit insurance company.

He said recently that he is one of 36 applicants for the football coaching job at a high school in Wilmington, Ohio.

Colt owner Robert Irsay said neither he nor other team officials knew of Schlichter’s alleged gambling activities when he was cut from the squad.

“There was no inkling at the time we released him he was involved again,” Irsay said. “We knew about nothing of that sort. We let him go because of his physical stature as a quarterback.”

Irsay said he was surprised to learn of the arrest. “I thought he learned his lesson. If they caught him again, I guess he hasn’t,” Irsay said.

Joe Browne, director of communications for the NFL, said Schlichter’s arrest would not immediately affect his future participation in the league.


“Schlichter right now is a free agent and he’s eligible to be signed by any of the 28 teams,” Browne said.

“The contract of any free agent is subject to review by the commissioner’s office when and if he signs. It’s handled on a case-by-case basis.”