“The fact that I was hired as talent on a sports show 14 years ago clearly has no impact on the life of any Georgian,” Rogers said. “I realize my opponents do not wish to debate my record of cutting taxes, reforming Georgia’s property tax system, shrinking the size of government or helping create jobs … It is unfortunate that they would be given a platform for dragging political debate to this level.”
According to report aired Friday on Fox 5 News, the Journal’s media partner, Rogers appeared on cable television broadcasts as Will “The Winner” Rogers and other monikers to predict the outcomes of upcoming football games to help sports bettors before he became state Senate majority leader.
And a piece by Atlanta Unfiltered’s Jim Walls paints a vivid picture of Rogers as a football handicapper in the early 1990s and as recently as 2000.
On one cable TV show, Rogers allegedly urged bettors to dial a pay-per-call number for his predictions, which he claimed had an 80 percent success rate.
Rogers said he would give the Atlanta Unfiltered report “no credence” and “would be surprised that anyone would take such a clearly biased political blog site seriously.”
Rogers maintains he was merely an actor.
“Some 14 years ago, my company had a contract to perform broadcasting duties on a nationally televised show which was aired on the USA Network. … I was reading from a predetermined script on a national sports television show that has been in production for 35 years,” he said.
Rogers, who at one time owned a radio station in Bartow County, said he still does some broadcasting, including a business show on Dish Network.
The recent news reports go on to claim that Rogers worked for and later shared offices with John Edens, a gambling industry entrepreneur who in 1992 lost an $800,000 judgment for fraudulent misrepresentation.
Rogers said he has cut ties with Edens.
“I have known him since I was in college, but there have been many years in which I did not see him or speak with him,” Rogers said.
The head of the Georgia Christian Coalition said Wednesday that Rogers should resign his leadership post because his past creates a conflict of interest with upcoming legislation.
Coalition President Jerry Luquire said Rogers is too close to the industry to have a leadership role during the upcoming legislative session, when the coalition expects gambling will be a public issue for lawmakers. The group did not call on Rogers to leave his Senate seat.
“I want him to step down because of his proximity or accessory to gambling activity in the past,” Luquire said.