Americans will bet more than $4 billion on the upcoming Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA). The bad news: only a fraction of those bets will be placed legally.
Of the estimated $.2 billion in bets that will be placed on February 7, nearly 97 percent—or about $4.1 billion worth—will be wagered with internationally regulated sportsbooks, the casino industry trade group said in a statement. That number was a lot higher compared to last year, when Americans bet $3.8 billion with internationally regulated sportsbooks on the Super Bowl matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.
The AGA said the illegal marketplace is about 35 times more lucrative than the legal forms of sports betting, such as those offered in Las Vegas.
“As Americans celebrate a milestone Super Bowl, they’ll also bet a record amount on the Big Game,” said AGA President and CEO Geoff Freeman said in a statement. “Just like football, sports betting has never been more popular than it is today. The casino gaming industry is the leading conversation around a new approach to sports betting that enhances consumer protections, strengthens the integrity of games and recognizes fans’ desire for greater engagement with sports.”
Just like with its 2015 estimate, the AGA based its math on a 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission report, which estimated between $80 billion and $380 billion was spent annually on illegal gambling. The gaming association compared the $80 billion figure with the sum wagered with Nevada sportsbooks in 1999, then compared that with Nevada 2013 sportsbook handle.
Sports betting has been outlawed in 46 of 50 states since 1992, when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was passed. According to data compiled by the University of Las Vegas-Nevada’s Center for Gaming Research, a total of $68.2 billion was legally wagered in Nevada between 1984 and 2014, while football generated a total of $24.9 billion in legal bets from 1992 to 2014.
In November last year, AGA came up with a set of recommendations that it believed marked “a major shift” in the gambling industry’s approach to sports betting. Beginning 2016, the trade group said it will build a coalition that will determine the possibility of a rational alternative to existing sports betting law.
“The culmination of a thorough process within our industry positions us to work with a wide variety of stakeholders who agree that rampant, unregulated and illegal sports betting is a threat to consumers and the sports we enjoy,” said MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren in a statement.