Americans will wager billions of dollars on the Super Bowl 50 clash between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers on February 7th, but only a fraction of those bets will be placed legally, according to estimates released by the American Gaming Association, a casino industry trade group.
Of the estimated $4.2 billion in bets that will be placed on this year’s Super Bowl, $4.1 billion, or about 97%, will be wagered illegally, the AGA estimates. That number is higher than last year, when Americans illegally bet $3.8 billion on the Super Bowl XLIX matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.
In total, the AGA claims illegal sportsbooks are 35 times more lucrative than legal forms of sports betting, such as those offered at some Las Vegas casinos.
“As Americans celebrate a milestone Super Bowl, they’ll also bet a record amount on the Big Game,” American Gaming Association 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 leading the 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.”
Sports gambling has been outlawed in 46 of 50 states since 1992, when the federal government enacted the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA. A total of $68.2 billion was legally wagered in Nevada casinos between 1984 and 2014. Football generated $24.9 billion in legal bets from 1992 to 2014, according to data compiled by the University of Las Vegas-Nevada’s Center for Gaming Research.
The AGA’s estimates were released amid ongoing debates in several states over the legality of daily fantasy sports contests, such as those offered by DraftKings and FanDuel. Critics argue the contests constitute a form of illegal sports betting.