(NewsNation) — March Madness is raking in some big money this year, and a lot of fans have skin in the game now that sports gambling is legal in 30 states and you can wager online in 20 of them.
Andrew Brandt, a former executive with the Green Bay Packers and host of “The Business of Sports” podcast, discussed legalized betting during an appearance on “Morning in America”.
“We’re talking about amateurs. We’re talking about college kids. We’re talking about student-athletes being bet on to the tune of three and a half billion dollars,” he said.
The American Gaming Association, the gambling industry’s national trade group, estimates 45 million Americans will wager some $3.1 billion on the tournament (a very conservative estimate), and around 36.5 million will bet something on a bracket or office pool.
Wagering on all those parlays and long shots is fun, but according to Brandt, “There is something a little bit, I don’t know, unfair about that.”
Name, image, likeness rules, or NIL, allows college athletes to monetize themselves.
Brandt said, “We are in an age where name, image, likeness is around. We are at an inflection point in college sports. There’s no doubt.”
There is a new generation of athletes that are now making money off the court through endorsements, but they cannot make money from their school, from the NCAA, from their sport, yet there are billions being bet on them this March.
“These are deals with McDonald’s and Reebok and all these companies,” Brandt said. “But also boosters are paying these players based on ‘you do something for me. Wink, wink, I’ll pay you.’ So that is happening.”
The NCAA is making millions in revenue from media for this event, yet the players are seen as unpaid labor.
“So something’s gonna change probably in the next decade about this,” Brandt said. “I don’t know exactly what, whether they’ll become employees, unionized employees. But right now the NCAA and March Madness is making all the money off this — not the players.”
March Madness sports betting has proven to be lucrative but compared to the Super Bowl, “It’s not quite that level,” Brandt said.
Lots of money is flowing into professional sports betting via DraftKings and FanDuel.
But for college betting, “These are amateurs,” Brandt said. “These are not paid employees. Yet, we are betting millions on them. Not millions, billions.”
“So there is that thing in my mind and your mind and our viewer’s mind ‘like is this really right?'” Brandt said. “And I think give it five to 10 years, it’s gonna look very different.”
Watch the full interview with Andrew Brandt in the video player at the top of the page.