More popular than any 2016 presidential candidate, and probably just as unpredictable is the public’s fascination with NCAA basketball brackets.
The American Gaming Association projected $9.2 billion will be spent (invested?) on this year’s tournament, with 70 million brackets being filled out, 97 percent illegally. The AGA issued the release to further hammer home that sports and gambling have a reciprocal relationship.
The men’s NCAA tournament begins this week.
“Americans’ passion for betting fuels the unmatched popularity of March Madness,” AGA President Geoff Freeman said in the news release. “Betting increasingly drives sports fans—and even casual observers—to invest in the tournament, offering further evidence that sports betting is the new national pastime.”
And that’s why the AGA called the prevalence of NCAA brackets to our attention. The Washington, D.C., organization represents commercial and tribal casino operators, suppliers and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry.
“It’s time for a fresh, rational approach to sports betting that reflects this reality,” Freeman continued. Last November, the AGA shifted opposition to illegal gambling “to creating a coalition to determine if rational, legal alternatives exist,” the release said, noting that there are no consumer protections to protect bettors or the integrity of the games. (Hey, if the pool administrator at your office quits work in late March and moves to Mexico with coworkers’ cash, can you really do anything? Or what if he/she even conveniently “mis-adds” and awards the top prize to his wife/husband?)
AGA Director of Public Affairs Chris Moyer points out that even NBA Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledges changes in sports betting are overdue. On the AGA site, SportsBettingAmerica.com, the lead quote is Silver’s: “Times have changed…I believe sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”
And back to the prevalence, for a minute: While Americans will fill out 70 million brackets, no presidential candidate has ever received 70 million votes, the AGA notes. Barack Obama came closest when he received 69 million votes in 2008. Going full circle here, the AGA notes Obama fills out an NCAA bracket each year on ESPN. (Barack-etology?)
Like many others, Obama had Kentucky to win it all last year. (They lost to Wisconsin, which then lost to Duke in the championship game.) Overall, Obama’s last successful champion pick was North Carolina in 2009.