97% of expected $10 billion wagered on march madness to be bet illegally
The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates that Americans will wager more than $10 billion on the upcoming 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Of that $10 billion, only about $300 million – or three percent – will be wagered legally through Nevada sports books.
Americans illegally bet at least $150 billion annually on sports, empowered by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), a failed federal prohibition on single-game sports betting. Illegal wagering is often done through bookies, on illegal offshore websites, or through sports pools like popular March Madness® basketball bracket pools.
According to a recent legal analysis, roughly two-thirds of states’ laws make it illegal to participate in sports pools, including filling out an NCAA tournament bracket, if there is money involved. Despite this, 10 percent of American adults, or nearly 24 million people, reported spending nearly $3 billion in the past year on college basketball pools alone.
“Our current sports betting laws are so out of touch with reality that we’re turning tens of millions of Americans into criminals for the simple act of enjoying college basketball,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “The failed federal ban on sports betting has created an illegal, unregulated sports betting market that offers zero consumer protections and generates zero revenue for state and tribal governments.
“As the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of PASPA, AGA is focused on working with all stakeholders to put the illegal market out of business and enable a safe, legal way for American consumers to participate in next year’s office pool without fear of prosecution,” continued Freeman.
The U.S. Supreme Court will make a decision on New Jersey’s challenge to PASPA’s overreach in the coming months, potentially enabling an expansion of legalized sports betting. Meanwhile, 48 pieces of sports betting legislation are active in 18 states, as legislatures across the country prepare to take advantage of this opportunity.