According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), 97 percent of the $10 billion to be wagered during the upcoming 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be made through illegal channels.
March Madness To Pull In $10 Billion Via Sports Betting
The annual NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, also called March Madness or the Big Dance is a single-elimination style basketball tournament in which 68 college basketball teams in the United States take part. It is one of the biggest and most anticipated sporting events in the country and is televised by several channels both in and outside the US.
When you have a sporting event as big as the NCAA, you automatically end up having punters who want to bet on their favorite teams, favorite players and the different outcomes that could take place during each NCAA game. These NCAA tournament bracket pools are a big hit with basketball fans and huge amounts of money are wagered every year.
In 2017, an estimated number of 70 million NCAA tournament brackets were completed at an average of $29 per bracket. In total, this has generated over $10.4 billion in bets, which is 13 percent up from 2016’s numbers.
According to the AGA, only 3 percent of this $10.4 billion was wagered illegally and this will carry over this 2018. This year, the AGA estimates that only 3 percent of total bets will be wagered legally via Nevada sportsbooks. The other 97 percent or $9.7 billion of the estimated $10 billion wagers for 2018 is expected to be made via bookies, illegal offshore betting websites and through unlicensed March Madness basketball bracket pools.
Widespread Illegal Wagering
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection (PASPA) Act of 1992 banned sports betting throughout the United States except for sports pools in Nevada and sports lotteries conducted in Montana, Oregon, and Delaware.. However that has not stopped punters from wagering on sports and has caused illegal sports betting in the US to flourish.
In 2016, it was estimated that Americans spent $154 billion on sports betting, with the majority of these bets being made through unlicensed websites and bookies. Last year, an estimated $4.7 billion was wagered on Super Bowl 51 when the Atlanta Falcons took on the New England Patriots. A recent legal study of the US gambling landscape found that nearly 10 percent of American adults or 24 million Americans have spent $3 billion on the college basketball pools each year.
According to research carried out by the State University of New York System’s Rockefeller Institute of Government, legal gambling in 2015 only brought $27.7 billion to local and state governments. An AGA commissioned study carried out by Oxford Economics suggests that if sports betting were to be legalized and regulated, the industry could generate $41.2 billion in revenue with $3.4 billion in taxes going straight to government coffers. A survey conducted by The Washington Post and the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 2017 revealed that 55 percent of Americans now approve of legalizing sports-betting.
Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of AGA believes that the local and state governments are losing major revenue because of the inability of the federal government to legalize and regulate sports betting.
In a statement, Freeman said, “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. The failed federal ban has created an illegal, unregulated sports betting market that offers zero consumer protections and generates zero revenue.”
Supreme Court Could Make Sports Betting Legal
To address the growing need and demand for sports-betting, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie started a fight to challenge the constitutionality of the PASPA law. In June last year, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the Christie v. NCAA case, where Gov. Christie battled with the sports federations such as the NBA, NFL, NHL, NCAA, and MLB to overturn the PASPA act.
The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on March 5, 2018 and many believe that the decision will favor New Jersey. A number of states are confident that PASPA will be repealed and they are working on sports betting regulations as they want to capitalize on this massive industry and see sports betting regulated in their respective states.

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