Don't bet on it
Pennsylvania's government has become one of the nation's busiest croupiers, raking in more than $1 billion a year from the gambling industry alone. That doesn't count more than $3 billion in lottery sales.
So there is an element of absurdity to an argument between state police Commissioner Frank Noonan and state Sen. Lisa Boscola, a Northampton County Democrat, over whether the state police have authority to arrest someone who participates in a Super Bowl pool at a licensed club.
Ms. Boscola is dismayed that state police claim to retain enforcement authority because the Legislature last year passed a law authorizing small games of chance for up to 100 people, if operated by licensed volunteer clubs.
Despite that law, state police believe the pools run afoul of the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.
Ms. Boscola claims the state law was written specifically to get around the federal law and that state police should have raised concerns before the law was passed, rather than waiting until Super Bowl week.
The federal law precludes sports betting anywhere but in Las Vegas, although New Jersey and Delaware have challenged it. In Las Vegas alone last year, bettors wagered just under $99 million on the Super Bowl, making it the largest single betting event in sports. There is no way to know the total that Americans will bet on today's game through legal and illegal bookies, office pools and parties, but estimates range as high as $10 billion.
Commissioner Noonan said state police will not specifically seek to enforce a betting ban today, and that only one person has been cited in the last three years, but that troopers will cite the gambling activity if they come across it.
So the odds are that you won't be arrested if you pick a block on the grid before you head off to the casino after stopping on the way for a lottery ticket.