March Madness is now upon us, and the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is kicking into gear. This is easily one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year. While there is so much hype surrounding the tournament, with everyone building brackets and supporting their favorite teams, there is also an incredible amount of betting that takes place as well.
According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), Americans are expected to wager over $10 billion for this year’s March Madness. Out of this $10 billion, only about $300 million, or 3%, will be wagered legally through Nevada sports books.
Americans illegally bet at least $150 billion annually on sports. Illegal wagering is often done through bookies, on illegal offshore websites or through sports pools like popular March Madness basketball bracket pools.
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% of American adults, or nearly 24 million people, reported spending nearly $3 billion in the past year on college basketball pools alone.
Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, commented:
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 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.