Floyd Mayweather Vs Conor McGregor: Just a fraction of US bets will be made legally

  • Americans set to illegally wager millions of dollars on fight
  • Ease of flouting betting ban sees calls for legalisation renewed

The upcoming fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather is set to attract millions of dollars in betting from Americans – the vast majority of it illegal.

Mayweather is heavily favoured in the fight – as low as 1-9 in some bookmakers, while McGregor can be backed at odds as high as 5-1.

But the fight, which is set for Saturday, August 26, will not be something most Americans will be legally able to wager on.

Betting on sports is legal in the state of Nevada, however, home to the city of Las Vegas where the fight between the boxing legend and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) star McGregor will be held, at the T-Mobile Arena on the Strip. But in the rest of the USA, federal law makes it illegal.

That won’t stop punters from making wagers, however. A variety of methods can be used, either by accessing offshore betting companies online, or using illegal private bookmakers.

Boxing isn’t the only major sport to attract a huge amount of illegal betting in the USA. The annual NCAA Division Men’s Basketball Tournament, popularly known as ‘March Madness’ sees huge amounts of money wagered in friendly betting pools, to which the authorities turn a blind eye.

And as with most events which do attract such huge sums of money in illegal bets, calls have been made to reform US gambling law – and make betting on sports legal, accessible, and regulated.

Fight facts

  • Floyd Mayweather’s boxing career read 49 wins and 0 losses before his most recent retirement
  • Conor McGregor is a mixed martial arts specialist signed to the UFC and, at 28, is 12 years younger than Mayweather (40)
  • McGregor was the first UFC fighter to hold two titles in two weight divisions, and is the biggest earning fighter in the sport’s history
  • Pay-per-view cost of fight expected to be up to $100
  • Win for Mayweather would push him to a 50-0 record, one better than iconic Rocky Marciano


  • Each fighter could make over $80 million from the bout

    Sea change

    The state of New Jersey is presently attempting to legalise sports betting in a federal court case currently passing through appeal in the Supreme Court. The decision will be known by the end of the month – but it seems unlikely to be granted.

    While calls for gambling legalisation have become as predictable and regular as the sporting events that prompt them, there’s evidence that in recent years have seen growing support for legalisation in the USA. Surveys have consistently shown support for a change in the law over the past few years, although any change in the law can take years to finally approve. New bills in states to liberalize gambling laws are being put forward regularly.

    The main argument is that a regulated industry would collect tax, create jobs and stop pushing normal Americans towards an unregulated, law-breaking activity. But the counter argument often centres around the integrity of sport, possibly opening it up to scandal that could tarnish its reputation, as well as a negative opinion of gambling generally.

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