According to an estimate released today by the American Gaming Association (AGA), Americans will bet $4.2 billion on Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers, up eight percent over last year. Nearly 97 percent of those bets — $4.1 billion worth — will be wagered illegally, standing in stark contrast to the approximately $115 million bet legally on the New England Patriots-Seattle Seahawks game last year. In fact, the illegal market is 35 times greater than the legal marketplace.
“As Americans celebrate a milestone Super Bowl, they’ll also bet a record amount on the Big Game,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “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.”
Overall, AGA’s estimate found that Americans wagered $149 billion on sports in 2015, up from nearly $145 billion in 2014.
Before last January’s Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl, AGA released its first-ever estimate predicting fans would wager $3.8 billion worth of illegal bets on the title game.
Late last year, following months of study and deliberation, AGA’s Board of Directors issued a set of recommendations that marked a major shift in the industry’s approach to sports betting. AGA is building a broad coalition that will determine whether a rational alternative to current sports betting law in the United States exists. Such an alternative could include strict regulation, rigorous consumer protections and robust tools for law enforcement to eliminate illegal sports betting and strengthen the integrity of games. For more information on how the gaming industry is approaching sports betting, please visit SportsBettingInAmerica.com.
In coming up with its illegal gambling estimates on the Super Bowl, the AGA took the most conservative estimate of illegal sports betting activity ($80 billion per year) from the 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission's Final Report. It applied GDP growth as reported by the Census Bureau to make this current to today. Finally, the AGA assumed that the proportion of legal gambling activity on the Super Bowl at Nevada sports books is the best available indicator of what proportion it might make up in the illegal market, and applied this ratio to the larger illegal gambling figure.