March Madness this year will see $10.4 billion worth of wagers in America, with the vast majority occurring outside of Nevada’s legal sports betting market.
That’s according to the American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s leading advocacy group on Capitol Hill. The AGA said that the $10.4 billion is a 13 percent increase compared to last year’s $9.2 billion.
Only about $295 million (three percent) will be wagered legally through Nevada sports books. “The remaining $10.1 billion will be spent on illegal offshore websites or through bookies,” the AGA said.
On an annual basis, Americans bet about $150 billion on sports, with nearly all of it coming outside of Nevada.
How did the AGA arrive at the $150 billion figure? 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 report. The AGA then applied GDP growth as reported by the Census Bureau to make the figure current to today.
As for the $10.4 billion, the AGA assumed that the proportion of legal gambling activity on March Madness in Nevada is the best available indicator of what proportion it might make up in the illegal market, and the group applied this ratio to the larger illegal gambling figure.
“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,” said Geoff Freeman, AGA president and CEO. “It’s time for Washington to get out of the way and enable states to reap the rewards of a regulated sports betting marketplace.”