According to the American Gaming Association, Americans will bet $10.4bn on the NCAA basketball’s March Madness, with only $295m wagered legally through Nevada sportsbooks.
The legal bets make up only around 3% of the total money wagered. The remaining money is placed with offshore sportsbooks and local bookmakers, according to the AGA.
Approximately 40 million people fill out brackets every year in order to enter gambling pools, with many arguing that the office March Madness falls into a legal “grey area”. The huge amount of money bet during this period is up 13% from last year’s $9.2bn.
In a statement, the Washington State Gambling Commission outlines: “We understand the excitement that builds during this time of year as people fill out their brackets, and we’re frequently asked questions about betting in an office pool.
“The Washington State Constitution prohibits any form of gambling unless it is specifically authorised by the legislature – sports betting is not authorised.”
Washington statues only allow less-common “100 square” competitions whereby you are only allowed to wager $1 per person.
Furthermore, the 70 million total NCCA wagers is set to exceed the number of people who voted for Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton in last November’s presidential election.
The American Gaming Association’s CEO, Geoff Freeman has criticised the government’s outdated view on sports betting, adding in a statement to USA TODAY Sports that “the federal ban on sports betting is an utter failure”.
Washington-based attorney, Steven Eichorn of Ifrah Law comments: “Generally, if the office pool charges a fee for entering the pool and awards prizes to the winner(s), then there is a serious question as to its legality. Some states exempt small pools from the gambling laws and regulations. However, the issue of enforcement is an entirely different matter.
“Law enforcement are assuredly aware that NCAA tournament pools exist, but they have typically turned a blind eye towards it. As a practical matter, law enforcement tends to be more interested in enterprises that organise gambling on a commercial basis, not small interoffice pools.”