“The Super Bowl is the greatest show on Earth, but it also has an ugly underbelly. It’s commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.”
- Greg Abbot, Attorney General, Texas
Reliable sources tell YouWager that, every year, Super Bowl weekend is responsible for creating the largest sex trafficking event in the United States. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that during the NFL’s 2010 Super Bowl, as many as 10,000 prostitutes were brought to the city of Miami. At 2011’s Super Bowl, there were 133 underage arrests for prostitution.
One woman, speaking anonymously, told a YouWager news source that during the Super Bowl, she was expected to have sex with 25 to 50 men every day. While these numbers may shock some sportsbook bettors, advocacy groups say these demands may be typical. The NFL Championship game attracts more sex traffickers than any sporting event in the United States.
Stephanie Kilper, speaking for Operation Freedom Taskforce, told YouWager’s source, “It’s not so much that you become a victim at the Super Bowl, but that many victims are brought in to be used for all the men at the Super Bowl.”
The experts believe the incredible volume of men that the ultimate football game brings to any city, so dramatically increases the desire for these types of services, that it’s all too easy for authorities to overlook the pimps and their victims.
Under U.S. federal law, prostitution of minors is considered trafficking.
YouWager’s anonymous source said she was sent to various cities in the South to work large events such as the Super Bowl. She said, “If you don’t make that number (of sex customers), you’re going to dearly, dearly, severely pay for it. I mean with beatings, I mean with over and over rapings. With just straight torture. The worst torture they put on you is when they make you watch the other girl get tortured because of your mistake.”
Some in the sports betting public dispute some of the claims from the advocacy groups. Officials in Tampa and Phoenix claimed they did not see substantial increase in prostitution during the time these cities hosted Super Bowl.
Rachel Lloyd, founder of GEMS, an organization that aids women who have been exploited and involved in sex trafficking, admits some of the numbers may be exaggerated, but she warns that, by the time all of the arrests are counted up, it’s too late. “The real crime is happening when no one’s looking and no one cares, not when every media outlet, advocate and cop has its sights set on it.”
Friday night before the recent Super Bowl, five women were said to be rescued from captors, and eight human-trafficking related arrests were made in New Orleans. During the weekend, law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups enlisted local businesses to spread information that included phone numbers for hotline groups and even methods of escape for victims.
A special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement told YouWager’s source, “We treat these people as victims. They are not arrested, they are not removed from the United States, we treat them as victims.”