The NCAA basketball tournament is set to kick off in the United States today, and the event (better known as March Madness) is set to have more than $10.4 billion wagered on it thanks to an estimated 70 million brackets filled out by punters.
The wagering for the tournament is dominated by office pools that are assembled by workers throughout the country. The estimated $10.4 billion wagered is expected to be 13% higher than last year, with the average bracket worth $29. Perennial contender Duke is favored to win the tournament at large, although brackets are notoriously difficult to predict as there's 64 teams playing for the championship.
Technically the pools are illegal because of sportsbetting laws throughout the country, although enforcing wagering on this scale would be impossible. Speaking about the legality of the pools gambling attorney Steven Eichorn said, "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 their 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 organize gambling on a commercial basis, not small interoffice pools."
Sportsbetting laws are undergoing a major review throughout America, as the state of New Jersey is challenging the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act with the Supreme Court, arguing that the law is unconstitutional. If the Garden State wins the case, sportsbetting options will open up in the country, creating a new industry that will likely raise millions of dollars in revenue annually.