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Reproduced from American Gaming Association; Cartogram: Axios Visuals

As recently as three years ago, sports betting was considered taboo. Now, 45% of American adults live in a state where it's legal.

The state of play: 25 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized sports betting, and 21 of those markets (plus D.C.) are live and operational.

Why it matters: March Madness is the biggest sports betting event of the year in the U.S., beating out the Super Bowl due to the sheer volume of games.

  • The sports betting industry took a huge hit when last spring's NCAA Tournament was canceled along with most other sports.
  • But it has rebounded in a major way, with legal betting revenue reaching $1.5 billion in 2020 and projected to hit $3.1 billion in 2021.
  • 100 million Americans can now legally bet in their home state, a 74 million jump from the 2019 tournament.

Less brackets, more bets: Filling out a bracket is an annual tradition that will never go away. But the rise of legal sports betting could steal some of the attention away from office pools.

  • 36.7 million Americans will fill out a bracket this year, down 8% from 2019, according to a new American Gaming Association study.
  • 30.6 million Americans plan to place more traditional bets this year, a 72% increase from 2019.

The backdrop: Given the stigma that was long attached to sports betting, the speed at which it has been normalized and gone mainstream is astounding. A brief history of sports betting in this country...

  • 1931: Nevada opens the nation's first casinos in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy. "Any state could have done it," UNLV professor Anthony Cabot told NYT. "But no others did."
  • 1949: Sports betting becomes explicitly legal in Nevada.
  • 1978: Casinos open in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
  • 1988: Congress passes the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, permitting casinos on land owned by Native American tribes.
  • 1992: Congress passes the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which bans sports betting nationwide beyond a few exceptions like bike racing in New Mexico and bookmaking in Nevada.
  • 2018: In May, the Supreme Court strikes down PASPA, determining it to be unconstitutional.

Go deeper

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Scoop: U.S. and Israel to hold strategic Iran talks on Tuesday

Jake Sullivan. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty

Top national security officials from the U.S. and Israel will convene virtually on Tuesday for a second round of strategic talks on Iran, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The talks come two days after an explosion at an Iranian nuclear facility that experts consider a likely act of Israeli sabotage, and one day before the U.S. resumes indirect nuclear talks in Vienna over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal — a prospect that has raised anxiety levels in Jerusalem.

Updated 2 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

Police: Officer who shot Daunte Wright accidentally pulled gun instead of taser

The officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, outside Minneapolis Sunday appeared to have inadvertently pulled out her gun instead of a taser, police said.

Driving the news: "This appears to me, from what I viewed in the officer's reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright," Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon told reporters Monday.

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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  3. Economy: Jobs growth could be curbed by demands for higher wages.
  4. World: Facebook to push notifications about vaccine eligibility to 20 countries outside of the U.S. — Brits flock to pubs for first time in months as U.K. lockdown eases.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.