Cleveland Plain-Dealer - Filling out that March Madness bracket? More than $10 billion will be wagered, gaming association says

Article | 03.14.2017

March 14, 2017 

By Karen Farkas 

CLEVELAND, Ohio - The office bracket pool has gotten underway as the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament approaches.

While many will throw in a few dollars with their entries, big money - about $10.4 billion - will be wagered on college games, says the American Gaming Association.

That number marks a 13 percent increase over last year's estimated $9.2 billion wagered, said the association, a national trade group representing the U.S. casino industry. 

Of the money wagered this year only about $295 million - or 3 percent - will be wagered legally through Nevada sports books.

The remaining $10.1 billion will be spent on illegal offshore websites or through bookies.

According to the association, each year ahead of the tournament:

  • 40 million people fill out roughly 70 million brackets
  • The average person completes nearly two brackets
  • The average bet per bracket totals $29
  • Half of all March Madness viewers have filled out a bracket at least once in their lifetime
  • Research shows those who fill out brackets online or through mobile applications are more likely to watch March Madness games.  

Americans annually bet at least $150 billion a year on sports illegally due to the antiquated 1992 federal prohibition on sports betting largely outside of Nevada, said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the association.

"The federal ban on sports betting is an utter failure - depriving states of vital tax revenues and preventing millions of fans from wagering legally on games,"he said in a statement. "It's time for Washington to get out of the way and enable states to reap the rewards of a regulated sports betting marketplace."

Twenty-five years after the passage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a growing number are calling for a regulated sports betting marketplace in the United States, Freeman said.

Regulation can ensure that all betting is transparent and that data is instantly analyzed, he said.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering hearing a sports betting case that could dramatically alter the country's sports betting landscape, the association said. Earlier this year, the court asked the U.S. Solicitor General to submit a brief in the New Jersey-led sports betting petition. 

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