Gambling: It May Be Illegal But 'Everyone Likes To Have A Little Action On The Game'

Jan 27, 2014

Sports betting in the U.S. is only legal in Nevada, particularly popular in Las Vegas, but offshore betting and other workarounds mean betting is happening in every state.
Sports betting in the U.S. is only legal in Nevada, particularly popular in Las Vegas, but offshore betting and other workarounds mean betting is happening in every state.
Credit Flickr Photo/Baishampayan Ghose (CC BY-SA)

Super Sunday is big business between ticket sales, television revenue and tourism. But a huge amount of money will also be changing hands based on an activity that is largely illegal: sports gambling.

Lee Sterling, a handicap expert and the owner of Paramount Sports, predicts that this year's Super Bowl will break a record. Last year, $98.9 million was bet on the game; this year Sterling expects to see that number somewhere in the range of $103 to $106 million.

Nevada is the only state where gambling is legal, but people also use illegal “offshore” websites if they aren’t Las Vegas local.

Betting can also take place in more commonplace locales. “There are people betting lunches between friends at work — $5, $20,” said Sterling, speaking on KUOW's The Record. “I know there are couples that are splitting the household, might be betting the chores for the next week,” he said. “Everyone likes to have a little action on the game to make it more meaningful.”

But, you can’t just predict who will win or lose – you also have to beat the line. The line can change all the way up to game day, but currently Denver is averaging as a 2.5 point favorite, meaning that the Broncos have to beat Seattle by at least 3 points in order for you to collect on the bet.

For those that don’t know the team very well, they can also take their chances on prop or side bets, like who will win MVP, what songs the half-time acts will perform or even what color top a player’s girlfriend will wear.

“There are so many changes compared to what took place in the first couple of Super Bowls, where people were just betting on the game and the total number of points,” Sterling said. “Now, people bet on quarters, will they throw the Gatorade on the coach, and if they do, what color will it be? That’s what makes it fun.”

Produced for the Web by Kara McDermott.