As the NFL kicks off its 96th season tonight, the American Gaming Association (AGA) says that nearly 98 percent of wagers on football go through illegal bookmakers.
“Clearly,” Chris Moyer, director of media relations for the AGA, tells Breitbart Sports, “the current law banning traditional sports betting outside of Nevada is not having its intended effect.”
The group estimates that Americans wager $95 billion on football annually. Just $2 billion in bets go through legal sports books. This money that does not fund state and federal coffers often subsidizes organized crime—or your neighborhood bookie’s mortgage.
“There’s been more acceptance broadly of sports betting across the country,” Moyer points out. “That’s reflected in the huge sums of money that are being wagered, most of it illegally.”
And most of those sums ride on college and professional football games. “Overall, the number for all the major sports is about $140 billion,” Moyer explained to Breitbart Sports. “So, if you take the $95 billion, football stands out as the most popular.” In other words, football, king of the ratings, reigns in the underworld, too.
All other sports combined don’t even approach it in the cash exchanged in black-market betting. Its popularity helps explain this. So, too, does the simplicity of a single spread applying, plus or minus, to both teams.
Whereas novice bettors find baseball’s odds, well, odd and hockey confuses with its variety of Canadian-lines, money-lines, and puck-lines, the notion of giving points for favorites and receiving the same points for underdogs remains a straightforward concept that the average below-average moron (the type of gambler bookies like best) can grasp. So, football’s popularity among beer-garden-variety gamblers exceeds its popularity in law-abiding society.
Though the aboveboard sports-gaming industry took a hit with adverse court rulings smacking down New Jersey’s efforts to establish a sports book, both the NBA and UFC came out in favor of legalized gambling on athletic events. Some see profit naturally motivating the about-face from the NBA (casino-magnate brothers primarily own the UFC). With billions of dollars made off the industries that the sports leagues don’t currently see, gambling remains one of the few untapped revenue streams open to professional sports leagues forever thirsty for money.
And tonight, millions of Americans attempt to quench their dollar thirst by laying money on the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers. Vegas favors the defending champs by 6.5 at home and the over-under reaches a 52 points. And while the victor remains uncertain, the vig makes it certain that, over time, the house wins.