Washington, DC – American sports fans are poised to wager $36.5 billion on Major League Baseball (MLB) this year, according to an estimate by the American Gaming Association (AGA) released just days before opening day.
Of the $36.5 billion that will be wagered, $35.4 billion – or 97% – will be placed illegally through illicit offshore websites and sports bookies. Americans wager roughly $154 billion a year on sports illegally due to the 1992 federal prohibition on sports betting.
“The amount wagered illegally on professional baseball is another sign the federal ban on sports betting has become an utter failure,” said Geoff Freeman, AGA president and CEO. “It’s time for Washington to stop depriving states of critical tax revenue and allow them to reap the rewards of a regulated market.”
In 2016, the AGA estimated that fans would illegally wager roughly $2.4 billion on MLB postseason games. That same year, only an estimated $85 million was placed legally on playoff games, according to Nevada Gaming Control Board data.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, dictates that Nevada is the only state permitted to offer traditional sports betting. Despite this ban, sports betting has only grown more prevalent. In fact, in 2016 alone, Americans wagered an estimated $154 billion on all sports, nearly all of it through bookies and offshore, illicit web sites.
The growing illegal sports betting market, which is fueled by a failing federal ban on sports betting, has rapidly pushed sports fans into an underground market with no consumer protections. A regulated marketplace, which stands in stark contrast to what’s currently available, would generate tax revenue and jobs for local communities and provide needed consumer protections for fans.
Fans who want to help lift the federal ban can join the grassroots campaign at SportsBettingInAmerica.com.
In coming up with its illegal gambling estimates on MLB, the AGA took the most conservative estimate of illegal sports betting activity ($80 billion per year) from the 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission's Final Report. It applied GDP growth as reported by the Census Bureau to make this current to today. Finally, the AGA assumed that the proportion of legal gambling activity on baseball at Nevada sports books is the best available indicator of what proportion it might make up in the illegal market, and applied this ratio to the larger illegal gambling figure.
About AGA: The American Gaming Association is the premier national trade group representing the $240 billion U.S. casino industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states. AGA members include commercial and tribal casino operators, suppliers and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry. It is the mission of the AGA to be the single most effective champion of the industry, relentlessly protecting against harmful and often misinformed public policies, and paving a path for growth, innovation and reinvestment.