In­dus­try projects $10B to be bet on Big Dance, most il­le­gally

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - SPORTS - By Wayne Parry

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 cash­strapped 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 twothirds 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.

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