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Lucrative March Madness
In the spring, the U.S. sports gambling spotlight focuses on March Madness, when men's college basketball teams compete for the national championship.
Although the Super Bowl is the single biggest 1-day sports betting event, the expanded basketball playoffs make this tournament the biggest draw for gamblers in sheer dollars wagered.
The college hoopsters battle on the court for a month, going from 68 teams to 64 to 32; then the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight elimination rounds. By the time the teams reach the Final Four, and then the ultimate championship game, thousands of bets have been placed.
Nevada's sports book operators estimate they take in $80 million to $90 million in wagers on the annual tournament. That, however, is less than 4% of the illegal take, according to the American Gaming Association.
The FBI estimates that more than $2.5 billion is illegally wagered on March Madness each year. That's $2.5 billion from which the IRS will never see a penny.