Americans are interested in Sunday’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons for a variety of reasons. Some just want to watch the game, others watch for the extravagant commercials.
But fans in the US also love to bet on the game. And a lot of that sports betting takes place illegally, according to new data from the American Gaming Association.
The betting on the Super Bowl
The AGA — an organization that represents land-based casinos in the US — has recently taken to estimating the market for wagering on the Super Bowl.
For Super Bowl 51, the AGA estimates that Americans will wager $4.7 billion on the big game. Of that number, only a little more than $100 million will be wagered legally in Nevada sportsbooks. Nevada is the only place where legal wagers can be placed on the game on American soil.
Here’s an infographic from the AGA:
Why are so many Americans betting illegally?
The simple answer: Because they want to, and legal options aren’t available.
Some of the wagering is of the relatively harmless variety, where friends get money down on the game via cash wagers or PayPal betting.
But a lot of it will take place via illegal offshore sportsbooks. The AGA estimates that in 2016, Americans wagered an estimated $154 billion on all sports, the vast majority at offshore books.
Why? The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, allows for Nevada sports betting. However, it prohibits single-game wagering in every other state.
Will this ever change for US sports betting?
The AGA is advocating for legal sports betting in the US, by changing or getting rid of PASPA.
“As we mark the 25th anniversary of a failed law, it’s time for Washington to get out of the way and lift the federal prohibition that pushes sports fans to a rapidly growing illegal betting market,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “A regulated marketplace would generate tax revenue and jobs, protect consumers and leverage cutting-edge technology to strengthen the integrity of the games we all love.”
The US Supreme Court may also weigh in on the constitutionality of PASPA as soon as later this year.
Until then, though, Americans are going to continue to bet on the Super Bowl and a variety of other sports, whether it’s legal or not.