The value of illegal sports betting in the US comes in at nearly $200 billion

  • New figures show illegal gambling accounts for 97 percent of all US sports betting
  • US Supreme Court is set to hear the case for legalization of sports betting next month

A new report has shed light on the extent of illegal sports gambling in the US, and its findings are likely to increase demands and the case for legalization of the multi-billion dollar market.

End madness of illegal sports betting, expert claims
A policy expert has called for an end to illegal sports betting in the US – describing the current law as ‘madness’. Pictures: Thinkstock.

According to findings by gambling sector data analysts H2 Gambling Capital, which carried out its report on behalf of partner iGaming Business, illegal sports betting in the US is worth an incredible $196 billion every year. That figure equates to around 97 percent of all betting on sport taking place in the US.

The $196 billion figure represents $10.4 billion gross gaming revenue and is significantly higher than the $150 billion produced and widely publicized by the American Gaming Association, which itself is lobbying for change.

And at 97 percent, the significance of the illegal sports betting market in the US is much greater than the figure given by a recent study conducted by the International Centre for Sport Security in conjunction with the University of Sorbonne Paris, which found that globally, around 80 percent of bets are in the illegal market.

Landmark hearing

The report showed that 79 per cent of illegal sports betting activity in 2016 was carried out online, and that the states of California and New York alone were responsible for a quarter of that gambling. The total figure of $196 billion is more than 47 times larger than the amount of legal US sports betting and 1.5 times greater than the total for all gambling on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada during that year, illustrating the sheer scale of the sports betting black market.

The report comes just weeks ahead of a landmark hearing in the Supreme Court. Justices are due to consider arguments in a case brought by New Jersey against the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which outlawed betting on sport.

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