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March Madness and the growth of sports gambling

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From Vegas casinos to office pools, an estimated 47 million Americans will be betting on the "March Madness" college basketball tournament this month. Correspondent Luke Burbank talks with legendary sportscaster Brent Musburger and hopeful bettors about the allure of sportsbooks, and with government officials who are rolling the dice on generating tax revenues from legalized gambling.

Video Transcript

- Tis The season for brackets and for betting. Here's Luke Burbank.

- Three seconds at midcourt.

- Got Jenkins.

- Gives it to Jenkins for the championship-- yes!

LUKE BURBANK: March Madness is here.

- The national champions!

LUKE BURBANK: Which means passion, school pride, and now more than ever a crazy amount of sports betting. An estimated 47 million Americans will place bets on March Madness this year, according to the American Gaming Association, with a lot of it happening right here in Las Vegas, which is where we found Nard Lamar, making some wagers of his own.

What did you bet on today?

NARD LAMAR: Got a few bets. St. Louis is a pretty good bet, and the Lakers.

LUKE BURBANK: Even in the midst of a pandemic, Nard and others were lined up to play their hunches at the Circa Casino Sportsbook.

How often do you sports bet?

NARD LAMAR: About five to seven days a week.

LUKE BURBANK: How do you do usually?

NARD LAMAR: Pretty good.

LUKE BURBANK: You could say sports betting itself is doing pretty good too.

BRENT MUSBURGER: Take a look around these casinos, OK? They're not getting any smaller.

Good evening, everybody, and welcome. I'm Brent Musburger.

LUKE BURBANK: If sports betting in the US has a pope, it's probably legendary sportscaster Brent Musburger.

BRENT MUSBURGER: I tell especially youngsters-- I tell them, you know, be careful because it's not as easy as you think it is, OK?

Number 13 Michigan--

LUKE BURBANK: Musburger is a lifelong sports gambler himself and even popularized the term March Madness back when he was covering it for CBS.

BRENT MUSBURGER: Let's run through those match-ups. In the East--

LUKE BURBANK: People may not realize this, but that office pool at work, that's effectively sports betting, right?

BRENT MUSBURGER: Absolutely. Everybody-- everybody in March fills out a bracket. You just got to do it. People were always taking a chance with their brackets, OK? Everybody likes to take a chance.

LUKE BURBANK: In 2017, Musburger rolled the dice himself when he left his lucrative sportscasting job to work for his nephew's sports gambling TV network called VSiN.

BRENT MUSBURGER: Welcome, everybody.

LUKE BURBANK: --which broadcasts 24 hours a day from-- you guessed it-- the floor of a Las Vegas casino.

- We're here at the VSiN Circa studio.

LUKE BURBANK: VSiN says it wants to be the CNBC of sports gambling, which they see as a growing market thanks to a 2018 Supreme Court decision, which made sports betting legal for any state that wants it. And why would a state want to do that? For things like this in Colorado, where taxes from sports gambling are projected to generate millions in revenue for water projects.

RUSS SANDS: Anything helps, and we are really seeing, especially now in these times, that the budget is being stretched.

LUKE BURBANK: Russ Sands is with the Colorado Water Conservation Board. And he says, Colorado already has so-called sin taxes on things like alcohol and marijuana. So why not legal sports betting?

You drive past a sports bar. The sports bar is full of people screaming. And in some way, that event-- if some of those people have money down, that event is also helping you take care of the water in Colorado.

NARD LAMAR: Absolutely. Wherever that bar is sitting, it's probably sitting next to a stream. And that water needs to be protected. And if we can build better projects together, it makes Colorado stronger.

LUKE BURBANK: Other states have joined in too. And as of today, 20 states and Washington, DC have some form of legal sports betting up and running. And what about the people who see betting on sports as immoral or tawdry?

BRENT MUSBURGER: Listen, when the country was founded, they took a chance. I mean, they came across the ocean. They didn't know what the hell was at the other end. I mean, it was founded by speculators. It was founded by guys who gambled with their family's life.

LUKE BURBANK: Inspired, I decided I'd try my luck as well with some guidance from frequent sports better Nard Lamar.

What's your pro tip on sports betting, Lamar?

NARD LAMAR: My pro tip on sports betting, Gonzaga or Baylor for the championship.

LUKE BURBANK: This is for the March Madness bets. Hold on. I'm going to write this down.

NARD LAMAR: If you've got $2,000 on Baylor and $2,000 on Gonzaga, $2,000 on Baylor is going to get you $7,000.


NARD LAMAR: Profit. I guarantee you--

LUKE BURBANK: Do you have $2,000 I can borrow?

I ended up at a lower price point.

$5 on Gonzaga.

- Sure.

LUKE BURBANK: But even so, I'm being careful to temper my own expectations because of one final piece of advice I got from the legend himself.

BRENT MUSBURGER: Listen, if you really need the money, stick with the stock market, OK? But if you've got some expendable cash, and you want to enjoy yourself, then go ahead and bet sports. But if you think-- if you think you're going to be the guy who's going to make this multimillion dollar fortune, forget about it. It's not going to happen.