Over 40 million Americans will be in gambling mood this week, probably generating revenues in excess of $12 billion according to media estimates, and despite the recession as they bet in office pools, on the Internet and through sportsbetting outlets on the 64 teams involved in the NCAA college basketball championships.
The phenomenon called March Madness started when the seedings for this year's college basketball championship tournament were announced at the beginning of this week, focusing the nation's attention on basketball and tempting even non-gamblers to take a flutter as the tournament becomes a conversation point and draws acres of media coverage. Massive television coverage of the games perpetuates the excitement both at home, in social venues and at work.
Especially at work. Consultants Challenger, Gray and Christmas regularly keep their fingers on the business pulse at this time of year and report that the decline in productivity due to March Madness disruption in the workplace could be as high as $2 billion.
For the online sports betting websites its usually bonanza time, regardless of the US Department of Justice's attempts to kill off the pastime. However, in January 2009 the much delayed regulations for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act 2006 came into force, and may impact betting activity. The UIGEA sets out to disrupt financial transactions with online gambling companies, dragooning the US financial services industry into enforcing its provisions.
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