The 2017 March Madness tournament is set to kick off today and the American Gaming Association has estimated that when it’s all said and done, as much as $10.4 billion in wagers will be placed. The college basketball tournament is a highlight of the NCAA, with sports fans placing wagers on who they think will move on to the next round of game play.
Opening-round games begin today with the tournament finishing up in early April with the Final Four taking place in Phoenix. The estimation by the AGA is actually $1.2 billion more than 2016 and only around $295 million of the total wagers are expected to be legally placed at sports books located in Nevada.
Sports betting is heavily restricted in the United States with players having to be in Nevada to be able to wager on the March Madness events. However, those who enjoy betting on the tournament will find other ways to place wagers, be it among family and friends, or other means.
The AGA would like to see gambling opened up across the board in the United States, particularly the realm of sports betting. With more regulations in place, there would be a lesser chance of tampering with the games. Geoff Freeman, the President and CEO of the AGA, stated that the federal ban on sports betting is an utter failure and deprives states of vital tax revenues. It also prevents millions of sports fans from wagering legally on games. Freeman feels that it is time Washington gets out of the way and allows states to reap the rewards of a regulated sports betting marketplace.
The figures are quite high for illegally placed wagers expected during March Madness and goes to show that there is a market for such betting. Several states, including New Jersey, are taking a legal stance in order to see sports betting allowed in areas other than Nevada. It will be interesting to see once the tournament is over if the betting volume meets the estimation of the AGA and if legislators will open up to the idea of allowing states to choose if they wish to offer such betting options.