Industry: $10B will be bet on March Madness, most illegally

AP FILE from AAC Tournament Championship game

March Madness is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated sports events in the United States and this Tuesday is going to see the official start of the matches providing riveting experience to both players and sports enthusiasts from around the world.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has estimated that in excess of $10bn will be wagered by Americans in the upcoming 2018 NCAA men's basketball tournament.

This could happen legally, through a bookmaker/sportsbook, or illegally through privately run enterprises referred to as "bookies". Only three percent of it, however, is expected to be wagered legally.

As the AGA points out, the prevalence of illegal gambling surrounding the NCAA Tournament can make it seem silly that sports betting is so strictly regulated. The amount bet nationwide is expected to be about the same as past year.

In the process, as much as $18 billion was spent on entry fees.

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The American Gaming Association estimates that gamblers illegaly wager at least $150 billion annually on sports, due in large part because of a failed federal prohibition on single-game sports betting the the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

According to ESPN, 24 million Americans participated in NCAA Tournament pools a year ago, spending more $2.6 billion, while nearly a quarter of American adults engaged in some sort of paid-entry pool. Of that total, 97% will be bet via illegal sportsbooks and other illicit methods, compared to just $300 million through legal sportsbooks in Nevada.

At present, there are 48 pieces of sports betting legislation active in 18 states, as legislatures across the country prepare to take advantage of this opportunity the repeal could offer.

The U.S. Supreme Court is weeks away from ruling on New Jersey's challenge to a law limiting legal sports betting to just four states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and OR, and a ruling that legalizes sports betting nationwide could provide new revenue opportunities for cash-strapped state governments, as well as casino companies.


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