Mattress Mack Places $1 Million Bet at Horseshoe Lake Charles Opening

USA Legal Betting


  • Mattress Mack bet $1 million on the Houston Cougars to win the NCAA Tournament in 2023
  • The bet was placed to celebrate the launch of Horseshoe Lake Charles in Louisiana
  • Houston is the odds-on favorite to win the tournament, ahead of several other powerhouses

Legendary gambler Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale dropped a $1 million bet at the Horseshoe Casino in Westlake, Louisiana, in conjunction with its opening Monday.

The Horseshoe chain of casinos is owned by Caesars Entertainment Inc., a favorite of Mattress Mack’s. His bet—at eight-to-one odds—was on the No. 5 Houston Cougars to win the NCAA Tournament in spring 2023.

McIngvale flew down to the bayou to place the wager in person on its opening day. He is just a couple of months removed from his $75 million win, the largest payout in sports betting history, which was awarded after the Houston Astros won the World Series.

Marking the grand opening

The Horseshoe Casino is just four miles from Lake Charles. Caesars has spent hundreds of millions of dollars rebuilding and refurbishing property in the area after it was wrecked by Hurricane Laura in 2020.

Mattress Mack was greeted with cheers when he walked through the front doors of the casino to place his high-stakes bet with his trusted Caesars sportsbook.

Texas still has not passed pro-gambling legislation, so McIngvale often travels to areas where he can legally place his bets. In this case, he tapped into the Louisiana sports betting market.

"It's a risky bet, but no guts, no glory," said McIngvale. "I like Caesars because they fade whatever I got. A lot of the other casinos won't take those big bets."

McIngvale, a Houston, Texas resident, stumbled onto his fortune largely through the success of his world-famous Gallery Furniture store. His strategy of constantly supporting local teams with jaw-dropping wagers has not always worked out, but then again, who can argue with the largest payout in sports betting history?

Mattress Mack is not just a one-trick pony, though—he is a treasured figure in his hometown because of his friendliness and philanthropic efforts.

During Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Winter Storm Uri in 2021, he opened up his store as a temporary place of stay for families forced out of their homes. He also welcomed all Louisiana residents to stay at his store in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Ida in 2021.

“My father taught us all we have a responsibility to care for others who need help,” McIngvale said. “We've been doing that for 42 years and we're not going to stop.”

Houston’s favorite high-roller also frequently runs sales or flat-out gives furniture away for free if local teams achieve great success.

Mattress Mack back for more

Houston has the best odds of winning the upcoming national championship of all qualified schools. Close behind them are the Connecticut Huskies, Texas Longhorns (though their situation could change following Head Coach Chris Beard’s recent arrest), Baylor Bears, Arizona Wildcats, and Kentucky Wildcats.

The Cougars rank number-one in scoring defense, fourth in average point differential, and are 9-1 at the time of writing with a lone loss to now-No. 4 Alabama. They reached the Elite Eight last year and the Final Four the year before and have two national runner-up finishes, both from the “Phi Slama Jama” era in the ‘80s.

Mattress Mack is holding out hope that coach Kelvin Sampson will be the first to bring a national title to Houston. So far, the Cougs have passed the eye test.

Even if McIngvale’s $1 million wager ends up off the mark, he will benefit from the heavy promotion of himself and his store, just as he always has. His unsuccessful $9.5 million bet on the Cincinnati Bengals to defeat the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl earlier this year generated tons of business for his store, easing the pain of the massive loss.

“What can I say?” McIngvale said. “I'm a promoter. I was born to do this.”

Anyone near Lake Charles can check out the scene of McIngvale’s historic wager, Horseshoe Casino Lake Charles, which is outfitted with a hotel tower, gambling floor, multiple restaurants, a cocktail lounge, and much more.

The NCAA Tournament tips off on March 14, 2023, and will conclude with a championship game on April 4 at NRG Stadium in, you guessed it, Houston.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.