Billions in March Madness Betting - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Billions in March Madness Betting

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Did you do a bracket? It's a question that is asked as often as "how's your day?" during the NCAA Men's basketball tournament. According to the American Gaming Association, 40 million Americans will fill out 70 million brackets and bet billions of dollars both legally and illegally.

The AGA estimates that Americans will wager $10.4 billion during March Madness 2017, an increase of 13% over last year. Ninety-seven percent of all bets placed across the county are illegal, including office pools. 

Harmony Heywood says she filled out a bracket in the past because her boss set it up and she won't pass up a chance to win some money, "He was in charge of everyone, so I'm a little shocked that it was you know, technically illegal."

"I have in the past, and actually my daughter has filled out one and she's only 5 years old," says Erin Jones. She says her daughter helped pick a winning bracket in her office pool one year, picking the team her daughter colored the most with her crayons. "She's five years old," said Jones laughing, "No, I understand the regulations of Nevada and could see why it would be illegal gaming."

"I think everybody understands that and realizes that," says Robert Phelps who's in a $20 bracket pool this year, "I don't know if I should say this but, I wouldn't be surprised if Reno PD didn't have a little office pool going."

Sports books in Nevada are expected to handle $295 million dollars this year during the tournament. Steve Mikkelson of the Atlantis Race and Sports Book says the first four days of the tournament sees nearly as much betting as the Super Bowl. He says it's mostly people betting on individual games rather than a tournament winner. He says even a little money can make everything more interesting, and they have special giveaways after a major upset, "These people get in that last two, three minutes, they start cheering and you know it's all about that excitement and nothing brings it on like these games."

The NCAA doesn't condone any sports gambling.

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