News

Super Bowl Illegal Bets to Be $3.8 Billion,Trade Group Says

January 23, 2015

Illegal betting in the U.S. on the Super Bowl will be about 38 times more by value than Nevada casinos typically accept in wagers on the National Football League championship, the American Gaming Association said.

Americans will wager about $3.8 billion illegally on the Feb. 1 game, the Washington-based casino industry trade group said in its first estimate for the NFL title game. Sports books won $19.7 million on a record $119.4 million staked on the Seattle Seahawks’ 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos in the 2014 Super Bowl, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

“The AGA is closely examining the current state of sports betting, the laws that govern it and the best way forward for the gaming industry,” Geoff Freeman, the AGA’s president and chief executive officer, said in e-mailed remarks shared today at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington.

Nevada is the only U.S. state where betting is legal on individual games. Attempts since 2012 by New Jersey to implement sports wagering have been opposed by the four major U.S. sports leagues and college sports’ governing body. A federal judge in November barred the state from implementing a new law that would allow such gambling, which was backed by Governor Chris Christie.

About 8 percent of calls to the help line for the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey are related to sports betting, said Donald Weinbaum, the group’s executive director.

Regulation Needed

While the council is neutral on the prospect of the expansion of sports betting, the industry should be well controlled if there’s a change in the law, Weinbaum said in a phone interview.

“For other forms of gambling, regulation is very much a factor and we were glad to see the interest in NJ in trying to put together a regulatory structure,” Weinbaum said.

While the National Basketball Association is among those trying to opposes New Jersey’s efforts, league Commissioner Adam Silver said in September at a Bloomberg Sports Business Summit that legal sports gambling throughout the U.S. is “inevitable.”

In November, Silver wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, saying that sports betting “should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”

AGA Method

The AGA arrived at its $3.8 billion estimate for the Super Bowl based on a 1999 report by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which found that $80 billion to $380 billion was spent on illegal gambling.

Using the most conservative estimate of $80 billion, the AGA compared that to the amount wagered legally in Nevada in 1999, before applying that percentage to legal bets placed in Nevada in 2013.

“The $3.8 billion, that’s conservative,” Chris Moyer, a spokesman for the AGA, said in a phone interview.

The Seahawks will look to successfully defend their title against the New England Patriots at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Last year’s Super Bowl was seen by a record 112.2 million people in the U.S.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at [email protected] Dex McLuskey


press release contact
Caroline Ponseti

(202) 552-2675