Predictions: Office Pools, Gambling Won't Suffer In Downturn

With plenty of people unemployed and the economy not exactly in the best shape, you'd figure that not as much money will be bet in Las Vegas and in office pools for March Madness.

But I just spoke with two guys who think that won't be the case. First, I called up Johnny Avello, head of race and sports book at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

I asked Avello if he thought the tough times would mean less betting. I quoted the fact that Super Bowl betting in Las Vegas was down 11.5 percent, with the total handle at its lowest point since 2004. But Avello said he didn't expect the handle for the NCAA Tournament to be off that much.

"Even though the Super Bowl was down approximately $10 million, the football handle as a whole was actually up," Avello said. Avello also said that he thought more college students would be coming to Las Vegas for Spring Break because of the problems in Mexico.

In order to figure out whether office pools would suffer, I went back and forth with R.J. Bell of Bell said he thought the estimated $3 billion Americans bet on office pools would remain relatively the same as an increase in those interacting by filling out brackets online would replace the money that was collected from those in the office who are now unemployed.

Questions? Comments?