How Much Money Do Americans Bet On Sports?

Considering that there is a limited amount of legal sports betting in the United States, it is amazing how much money is spent on sports betting each year, both legally and illegally. This page tells you exactly how much money the experts think is wagered on sports by Americans each year. These are studies done by professionals that do all kinds of research to make sure the numbers are accurate.

Sports are big in the USA and that makes sports betting very popular, with 60% of Americans identifying as sports fans. A survey by Gallup found that that the majority of sports enthusiasts are fans of pro football – approximately 33%. This explains why Americans spend billions betting on the Super Bowl each year and millions more prepping for the event. Judging from the numbers, it would seem that the only thing Americans love more than sports is betting on them. Betting on sports far extends just the pro football category, with money spent on college basketball, baseball, hockey, and other categories. It makes you wonder, exactly how much money do Americans bet on sports?

When you look at reports published by the Nevada Gaming Commission- NV being the only state in the USA where single-game wagering is permitted- it is easy to determine how much is spent betting on sports each year. This, however, only represents a small portion of the overall sports betting landscape in America. With only two states offering any form of sports betting, the majority of sports wagers are placed at offshore sports betting sites or in social settings. Due to both of these methods being unregulated, it can be hard to determine exactly how much is wagered on sports illegally each year. Luckily, organizations such as the American Gaming Association are able to provide detailed reports that depict the amount spent betting on sports (both legally and illegally) as accurately as possible.

Money Spent On Illegal Sports Betting By Americans

Though there is a negative connotation behind the term “illegal sports betting”, it does not deter millions of Americans from betting on their favorite sports. Illegal sports betting includes local bookies that should always be avoided, and offshore online sportsbooks that are safer but still unregulated. Most of the sports bets placed in the USA are done at overseas sports betting sites due to their convenience. Making wagers from the comfort of your home is undoubtedly more convenient than planning a trip to Las Vegas. When crunching the numbers to answer the question of ‘how much money do Americans bet on sports?’ there is no denying that the amount spent on illegal sports betting far outweighs legal wagers.

Whether an avid NCAA basketball fan or not, the entire month of March is devoted to NCAA bracketology. There were 70 million March Madness brackets completed in 2017, with an estimated $10.4 billion in total bets placed. Approximately 97% of these bets were predicted to be placed illegally.

When the New England Patriots earned their 5th Lombardi Trophy against the Atlanta Falcons, Americans spent an estimated $4.7 billion betting on Super Bowl LI. Just as with the NCAA Tournament, the AGA predicted that only about 2.5% of the wagers were placed in a legal sportsbook. When we look at how much is bet on football in its entirety, the estimates are nearly 20 times larger. Football fans across the country spend more than $88 billion betting on NFL and college football games throughout the year.

Though exactly how much money Americans bet on sports is unknown, a report written for the Competitive Enterprise Institute * https://cei.org/sites/default/files/Steven%20Titch%20and%20Michelle%20Minton%20-%20Time%20to%20End%20the%20Madness%20around%20March%20Madness.pdf *estimates that at least 95% of the $150 billion to $400 billion spent on sports betting every year is done illegally.

Money Bet On Sports By Americans VIA Legal Sports Betting

All of the legal sports betting in the United States comes from two states- Delaware and Nevada. This is because of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), a federal law that enacted a ban on sports betting. Nevada was grandfathered into the law due to already having legal sportsbooks, while Oregon, Montana, and Delaware were granted an exemption for their sports lotteries. Though states such as New Jersey are advocating for the federal sports betting ban to be removed, NV and DE are currently the only states offering sports betting.

Legally, only those physically located in NV or DE are permitted to bet on sports. In Delaware, sports fans are able to put money on NFL Parlay cards with a minimum bet of $2 and a maximum bet of $100 per card. The NFL parlay game is available at three licensed sportsbooks and more than 100 retail locations. How much money do Americans bet on sports in Delaware? Well, since the sports lottery kicked off in 2009, there have been more than $175.9 million in total sales.

In Nevada, sports enthusiasts are able to bet on football, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, golf, and a variety of other sports. Betting options include moneylines, totals, point spreads, parlays, and other exotic wager types. Licensed sportsbooks and retailers are able to draw in millions of dollars each year from residents and tourists.

How Much Money Is Bet On Sports In Nevada?

As the gambling mecca of the United States and the only state with single-game wagering, sports betting is big business in the Silver State. Even with the betting variety in Nevada, there are definite trends in how bettors spend their cash in Vegas. Super Bowl 51 brought in more money than any NFL championship game in history, with nearly $138.5 million bet by sports fans. March Madness is also one of the craziest times of the year, with $337,788,235.29 wagered on the NCAA Tournament in 2016. Vegas makes about 15 million per year from March Madness basketball wagers.

Sports betting in Nevada has grown exponentially in the last 25 years. The UNLV Center for Gaming Research compiled a report detailing just how far the legal sports betting industry Nevada has come. Here is a breakdown of how much has been bet per sport at NV sportsbooks since 1992:

  • Total amount bet on football- $28,314,813,000 ($28.3 billion)
  • Total amount bet on basketball- $18,386,242,000 ($18.4 billion)
  • Total amount bet on baseball- $14,091,018,000 ($14.0 billion)

So, how much money do Americans bet on sports in Nevada? Since 1984, the total amount bet on sports in NV is about $77 billion.

Where Does The Sports Betting Money Go

Once you know the answer to ‘how much money do Americans bet on sports?’, the natural follow-up question is where does the cash go. Part of this goes back to bettors in the form of winnings, but after paying out bettors the remaining cash may go several different places. With legal sportsbooks, the house will get their take and portion of revenues will also be taxed. Gaming taxes are then used to fund state and local programs, which is why many proponents of sports betting view the gaming as a way to stimulate local economies. That is why states like NJ, PA, MI, and WV will most likely offer legal sports betting should the federal ban be