Industry: $10B will be bet on March Madness, most illegally

FILE - In this March 11, 2018, file photo, Houston guard Rob Gray, front left, grabs a rebound in front of Cincinnati forward Gary Clark (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball championship game at the American Athletic Conference tournament, in Orlando, Fla. America's gambling industry predicts $10 billion will be bet on the March Madness college basketball tournament — nearly all of it illegally or off-the-books. That's one of the reasons the American Gaming Association favors the full legalization and regulation of sports betting in the United States. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — America's gambling industry predicts $10 billion will be bet on the March Madness college basketball tournament — nearly all of it illegally or off-the-books.

That's one of the reasons the American Gaming Association favors the full legalization and regulation of sports betting in the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court is weeks away from ruling on New Jersey's challenge to a law limiting legal sports betting to just four states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon, and a ruling that legalizes sports betting nationwide could provide new revenue opportunities for cash-strapped state governments, as well as casino companies.

The group found 54 million people — or about a quarter of the U.S. adult population — participated in a sports betting pool last year, spending $18 billion on entry fees. That includes 24 million who filled out basketball brackets pools and spent $2.6 billion on entry fees.

It also conducted a survey that found that roughly two-thirds of U.S. states make it illegal to participate in sports betting pools if money is involved. Enforcing those laws, however, has not been a priority for law enforcement.

"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," said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. "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."

Freeman said only 3 percent of the $10 billion the group predicts will be wagered on the games will be done through legal Nevada sports books, or about $300 million.

The group also counted 48 pieces of sports betting legislation active in 18 state legislatures across the country as lawmakers anticipate a favorable Supreme Court ruling and prepare for the advent of legal sports betting.

Freeman predicted "a flood of new products" if sports betting is legalized, including increased opportunities for bets on events within a game and not just on its final score or statistics.

"There's a lot of money that's going to go to innovation that's currently sitting on the sidelines," he said.

The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey says "sports betting is a cause for concern." While neutral on gambling, the group has been contacting New Jersey lawmakers to discuss needs that will arise if sports betting is legalized.

"Sports betting may have more appeal to our children, it has the potential to affect the integrity of the games, and it may put many more people at risk for problem and disordered gambling," said Neva Pryor, the group's executive director.

___

Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

Must Read

As expected, US men's basketball finds Spain on...

Aug 18, 2016

The U.S. men's basketball team expected this

Police: Former Syracuse, Celtics center Fab Melo...

Feb 12, 2017

Military police say former Syracuse University and Boston Celtics center Fab Melo has died in his...

Froome and Quintana struggle in opening Tour de...

Jul 7, 2018

Overall favorites Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana each had trouble in the opening stage of the Tour...

NBA hopeful, stricken by illness, returns to...

Jan 11, 2017

Former Baylor standout Isaiah Austin has arrived in Serbia after being cleared to play basketball...

TNT broadcaster Craig Sager undergoes 3rd marrow...

Aug 31, 2016

TNT basketball broadcaster Craig Sager received a rare third bone marrow transplant on Wednesday as...

Sign up now!