Craig Carton’s Gambling Addiction Leads to 42-Month Sentence

  • Craig Carton is a former New York City radio host who was earning $2m a year
  • Due to gambling debts, he began a concert ticket Ponzi scheme, reportedly taking $5.6m from investors
  • He has now been sentenced to 42 months in prison by a federal judge
  • A video called "The Reckoning" was screened at his sentencing hearing
  • The video details his gambling addiction and how he borrowed more than $30m to gamble
Depressed man at roulette table
Craig Carton could spend as much as 45 years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme to fuel his gambling debts.

Who is Craig Carton?

Craig Carton is a New Yorker who was a radio host in the city for many years. From 2007 to 2017, he was a co-host of the radio sports talk show, Boomer and Carton, with former NFL star Boomer Esiason on WFAN.

His role on the show came to an end after his arrest in September 2017. At the time, he was reportedly earning $2m (£1.5m) annually from the radio show.

In November 2018, he was found guilty of wire fraud and security fraud for operating a Ponzi scheme involving concert tickets. The financial fraud was reportedly worth over $5.6m (£4.3m). Carton promised investors that they would get access to premium seats for major concerts. However, he used the money to pay off gambling debts of more than $7m (£5.4m).

Carton faced as much as 45 years in prison but was sentenced to only 42 months by Judge Colleen McMahon after a hearing in a Manhattan federal court. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 5 to 7 years.

Upcoming video

A video called ‘The Reckoning” was screened during the hearing. The five-minute video focuses primarily on gambling addiction. While many people will say that greed drove Carton to operate his Ponzi scheme, the video suggests that his gambling addiction was the real villain.

It opens with Carton telling a story about his son to show just how much his gambling affected those around him.

“My 7-year-old son went back to school after the summer. The teacher said, ‘I want you to draw for me your favorite places to visit.’ “He drew Atlantis, Hollywood Hard Rock, and the Borgata — three casinos. That’s not normal for a 7-year-old. That’s the first time I really looked in the mirror and said, ‘You’ve got a problem.’”

The video goes on to show stories about his arrest and a clip where he says that he is a “blackjack savant.” He was taking money from people to gamble with by promising quick returns of 5%-10% due to his proficiency at gambling.

Ups and downs of gambling

He says he borrowed more than $30m (£23m) over the years for gambling. This led to a lifestyle where he was riding private jets and helicopters. He was betting upwards of $20,000 (£15,400) per hand of blackjack on certain days.

He spoke about how people could tell if he was drinking or if he was on drugs, but there was no way to tell that he was gambling, highlighting the fact that often there are not many outward signs of gambling addiction.

Carton speaks about the ups and downs of gambling. He went from winning $4m (£3.1m) in the space of three days, and not even enjoying the win, to losing $700,000 (£538,500) two weeks later. His life was full of secrets, introversion, and isolation. Carton spoke about being in “a deep dark spiral.” This is something that most gambling addicts can relate to.

Day of reckoning arrived

At 3:50 am on September 6, 2017, it came to a head for Carton. The FBI came to his apartment and put him under arrest.

Talking about the changes to his life since his arrest, Carton says: “At the time of this taping I’m awaiting sentencing … I threw it all away. It has cost me everything. My relationship with my wife, who I’m legally separated from now. I’m bankrupt. I’m about to be homeless.”

His family was clueless. He would exit their apartment after midnight and board a helicopter or drive to a casino to meet his urges.

This is a cautionary tale for those struggling with gambling problems, showcasing how you can go from everything to having nothing in mere months.