Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Betting Against the Federal Ban on Sports Betting and March Madness Pools

While the traditional madness that accompanies the month of March may inspire illegal office pools, this year, sports gambling advocates are hoping the madness inspires congress to repeal the federal ban on sports betting. Despite the fact that the federal ban on sports betting has been in place for nearly three decades now, if you're a gambler, you might want to put your money on that law not being there much longer. Currently, there are two bills being considered to repeal the ban.

With the new executive administration now in power, and President Trump's previous ownership of an Atlantic City casino that couldn't allow sports betting due to federal law, as well as Trump's not-so-explicitly-stated support of legalizing sports gambling, proponents are looking to address this issue now, while the time is right (for them). 

Sports Betting During March Madness

It is unlikely any one person has to go more than one or two degrees away before they know someone who participates in a March Madness gambling pool. What comes as a shock to many is that even casual office pools, or pools amongst friends, violate the law.

Fortunately, these types of pools are rarely busted by law enforcement, particularly if they are kept as low-stakes pools with no wild controversies that get public attention. This is one of the facts that proponents to legalization cling to- that because enforcement is low, and the gaming activities, on average, generate $150-400 billion in annual revenue, states are losing out on valuable tax revenue, and particularly states that already allow gambling. To combat this, and try to capture some of that lost revenue, some states are trying to go rogue. 

New Jersey has been fighting it out in court to allow their state sports gambling law to be deemed valid, despite the clear conflict with federal law. And, West Virginia recently joined Jersey in considering a similar bill that contradicts federal law. Despite the clear public danger to legalized sports betting, proponents have long since been pushing for states to control whether sports betting is legal within their borders.

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