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Betting on March Madness may be illegal

Sports wagers are prohibited in 46 states

How is your March Madness bracket doing? Does it resemble the President’s at all? Well you (and Obama) may be breaking the law if there’s money riding on your Final Four picks for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament.

The folks over at Bloomberg reminded us yesterday that a 1992 federal law prohibits sports betting in all states except Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. What’s more, it’s illegal to communicate sports wagers over state lines using wires, according the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. The Department of Justice has ruled that this includes the Internet, which, aside from being a great place to keep track of your bracket, is just a bunch of fiber optic cables. There is an exception to the law for fantasy sports, but it’s up for debate whether March Madness picks qualify as a fantasy team.

Regardless, should the government ever decide to investigate all the nation’s office pools, it would turn up more guilty people than the justice system would know what to do with. A 2009 Microsoft survey found that around 58 million Americans fill out brackets each year. Those participants wager about $12 billion total, according to Las Vegas oddsmaker Pregame.com.

Read more about the sketchy nature of NCAA basketball brackets at Bloomberg.

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