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The Real Cost of March Madness

By Ben Steverman, with Eben Novy-Williams and Seth Magalaner - 2012-03-21T23:12:14Z

Photograph by Glenn Pinkerton/Las Vegas News Bureau via Getty Images

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Gambling Billions

Statistics on illegal gambling are impossible to verify, but RJ Bell, founder of, estimates $3 billion has been wagered in NCAA pools among friends and coworkers across the U.S.

The legal gambling happens in Nevada, where Mark Goldman, director of race and sports book operations at Cantor Gaming, expects $75 million to $80 million to be wagered throughout the tournament. Of the major sports championships, March Madness is second only to the Super Bowl, which prompted $93.9 million in wagers this year, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.