BOSTON (CBS) — Sports betting may technically be illegal under federal law, but Super Bowl LI is proof that the industry is alive and well.
According to the American Gaming Association, Americans will bet an estimated $4.7 billion in total wagers on the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. The estimated number is up 11 percent from Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers.
However, about $4.5 billion of the bets – about 97 percent – will be made illegally due to what the AGA regards as a “failed federal ban” that became law in 1992. Only $132 million is expected to be legally wagered through sports books in Nevada, the only state in the U.S. permitted to allow “traditional” sports betting.
It’s important to note that the $4.7 billion figure is merely an estimate and not an official number. The AGA arrived at the number by taking national estimates from a 1999 report from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, adjusting for inflation, then applying the ratio of Nevada’s legal sports betting totals to bets across the rest of the country.
The Patriots are currently a three-point favorite in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, with a money line of minus-145 – and hundreds of prop bets to choose from.