The Real March Madness: Sportsbetting is Illegal in America

Published March 25, 2016 by Lee R

The Real March Madness: Sportsbetting is Illegal in America

Are cash-strapped states watching money go out the window, or off the brackets?

Betting on sports in America is illegal, but everybody does it.

Americans Love Sports Betting

From people going to or calling in to Vegas, or calling their local illegal bookie, or putting a few bucks into their NCAA tournament brackets in the office pool, Americans LOVE betting on sports, as evinced by the staggering total of $148.8 billion illegally bet on sports in 2015.

The NCAA Bracket Totals

Americans especially love betting on the NCAA tournament. With Americans filling out more tournament brackets this year than casting winning Presidential election ballots (over 70 million), the American Gambling Association (AGA) estimates that March Madness betting totals will reach $9.2 billion.

In a down year for college basketball, and the marquee player in college basketball not even in the tournament, that number still tops last year's figure of $9 billion.

Bracket Breakdown

AGA research estimates that 40 million people fill out brackets with the average person filling out almost two brackets on average; with average bet per bracket totals at $29. Half of all March Madness viewers have filled out a bracket at least once in their lifetime.

Research Estimates

Accrued from estimates from office pools, Nevada sports books, illicit offshore sites and illegal bookies, AGA further clarifies that only about $262 million will be bet legally at Nevada sports books.

So out of $150 billion, only a little over a fourth of $1 billion will be bet legally, in a form that is regulated and taxable.

Legalized Online Betting Abroad

Meanwhile, millions of people worldwide are betting on the NCAA tournament and other sporting events at popular online sportsbooks like bet365 Sports, William Hill Sports and 888 Sport.

The Point

If online sports betting activity was legalized by the cash-depleted states, state governments could be taxing hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues on activity that is already taking place.

Trivia Answers

President Obama, who fills out his tournament bracket every year from the Oval Office on national television, is the closest to 70 with 69 million votes. And Ben Simmons is going to the NBA after one season in which he brought millions of dollars in television contracts and merchandise revenues to his university's amateur athletic program.


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