Americans will spend $3.8 billion betting illegally on Super Bowl XLIX, Geoff Freeman, President of the American Gaming Association (AGA), told a meeting of the US Conference of Mayors in Washington.
Freeman urged for regulatory reforms as he told the assembled crowd that this sum represents 38 times the amount that will pass through the hands of legal Nevada sports books in the lead up to the game.
This is the first time that the AGA has attempted to estimate the amount of illegal betting on a single sporting event.
It based its data on a 1999 report by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which concluded that some $80 billion to $380 billion was spent each year on illegal sports betting.
Taking the most conservative estimate of $80 billion, the AGA then compared that figure with the amount bet in Vegas sports books in 1999, before applying it proportionately to the amount wagered on the Super Bowl in Nevada last year.
3.8 Billion Conservative
According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, a record $119.4 million was staked on the Seattle Seahawks versus Denver Broncos game last year, with the sports books collectively winning $19.7 million.
“The $3.8 billion, that’s conservative,” Chris Moyer, a spokesman for the AGA, told Bloomberg.
Currently, Nevada is the only state in the US where sports betting is fully licensed, although some is also permitted at Delaware racetracks.
It’s also technically legal in Oregon and Montana, although those states decline to license it.
The rest of the country is bound by a law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act 1992, which effectively prohibits sports betting nationwide.
New Jersey has been thwarted in its attempts to challenge the act and legalize sports betting at casinos and racetracks.
Most recently a federal judge ordered an injunction temporarily banning it in the state just days before the New Jersey’s first sports book was due to open its doors, at Monmouth Park.
This was at the behest of the professional sports leagues, which claim that New Jersey is threatening the integrity of their games.
Call for Regulation
Last week the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association filed a case to the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals, accusing the sports leagues of “hypocrisy” for profiting from fantasy football, itself a kind of sports betting.
Meanwhile, about 8 percent of calls to the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey are related to sports betting, said Donald Weinbaum, AGA’s executive director.
And while New Jersey’s sports bettors, and those elsewhere, are forced to use the clandestine black market, they remain unmonitored and unprotected.
“The AGA is closely examining the current state of sports betting, the laws that govern it and the best way forward for the gaming industry,” said Freeman.