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Twitter chat: Is legalizing sports gambling a safe bet?

University of Connecticut vs University of Kentucky, 2014 NCAA National Championship

With March Madness in full swing, it is likely that you or someone you know has filled out a bracket for this year’s NCAA Tournament. But those who’ve chosen to “make it interesting” should know that, outside of Las Vegas, betting on any almost any sporting event is illegal.

The Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was proposed by then-Senator Bill Bradley in 1992. Bradley, himself a former NBA player, argued that betting encouraged game fixing and threatened the integrity of professional and collegiate sports. In the years that followed, individual states seeking to legalize sports gambling have run up against this federal ban.

Of course that hasn’t stopped bets from being placed. The government estimates that somewhere between $80 and $300 billion is illegally bet each year. Proponents of sports gambling argue that legalization would allow this money to be taxed, providing valuable revenue that could be spent elsewhere in the community.

Should sports gambling be legalized? Should it be up to individual states or the federal government to decide? We took the conversation to Twitter. PBS NewsHour’s William Brangham (@WmBrangham), who reported on this topic for a recent on-air segment, weighed in. Read the full discussion below.