Nearly All Money Bet on March Madness is Wagered Illegally


Nevada sportsbooks reported taking in a record $429.4 million in bets on March ’17 basketball games (includes NBA), with the casinos winning $41.2 million; but, that record figure was just a small percentage of the total amount wagered on the 2017 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The American Gaming Association (AGA) found that $2.6 billion was illegally wagered on bracket pool entry fees and projects of the $10 billion to be placed on 2018 NCAA tournament games, just 3% ($300 million) will be wagered legally in Nevada sportsbooks; the only state that currently allows betting on individual games. The high percentage of unregulated gambling is among the reasons the AGA supports the full legalization and regulation of sports betting.

Howie Long-Short: The legalization of sports betting is unlikely to move much, if any, of the $2.6 billion estimated to have been wagered in 2017 bracket pools and while it will increase the percentage of bets placed legally on individual games (the bar isn’t high), it won’t be eliminating the black market or off shore options. Why? The high state tax rates being proposed by the individual states and “integrity fees” being pitched by the leagues, will force the casinos to increase the vig on games; making their lines uncompetitive. Serious gamblers aren’t lowering their odds to comply with the law.

Fan Marino: No office pool is better than the one Warren Buffet runs at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A). It’s free for employees to enter (there are +/- 100,000 expected to participate) and guarantees $1 million/year for life, to anyone who picks the “Sweet 16” correctly. If Creighton wins the championship (he’s Omaha based), he’ll make it $2 million. As a consolation prize, the individual who remains “perfect” the longest receives $100,000. Selecting a perfect bracket is impossible (he once offered $1 billion to anyone who did it), but hitting the “Sweet 16” can be done. In fact, it nearly was; one Berkshire Hathaway employee correctly predicted 15 out of 16 teams last year.

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