The NCAA March Madness basketball tournament is one of the most exciting sports spectacles annually. Very few fans know the how hard these players work to reach this level.
The closest feeling fans get to that excitement of that buzzer-beater win or heartbreak loss is watching the game with a wager on the line.
Sweet 16 Weekend Projections: Historic Numbers
March Madness is one of the largest gambling periods in the United States. According to a survey from the American Gambling Association, more than 47 million Americans are expected to place wagers on this year’s March Madness tournament.
Interest in this year’s tournament has grown compared to 2019 levels. 26 percent of respondents said they were “extremely” or “very” interested in the tournament, up from 23 percent two years ago.
More than 8 million plan to bet on this tournament at a physical sportsbook, up 79 percent from 2019, while 17.8 million plan to place a bet online, up 206 percent. On the year more than 65.4 million Americans have gained the ability to legally place wagers.
Iowa, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Montana, Tennesse, Virginia, and Washington D.C. have all launched their legalized sports betting programs in the past year. Within these states the amount of bettors grows every month.
Wagering on sports has shown to be making a fast rebound in 2021. January’s betting generated over $378 million in revenue, a national increase of 174% year over year.
Furthered by the launch of online betting in Michigan. February the numbers came back down to Earth but fully expect the March totals to set another new record.
With the loss of last year’s tournament due to the pandemic, fans were salivating to place wagers this year. The final numbers for the amount wagered and the number of players in March won’t be revealed till April but experts are confident that this year’s tournament will break records across the U.S.
“Off the top of my head, the first three days of the tournament have probably been our best,” Jeff Stoneback, a veteran Las Vegas bookmaker with BetMGM, said.
The continued fallout of the pandemic and social distancing is changing the way people are betting. Online betting has grown “The sports betting landscape has changed dramatically since 2019 – and as a result, tournament betting has transformed,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said in the release.
“As consumers formerly limited to bracket contests now enjoy access to legal sportsbook options, they also plan to place traditional sports bets as March Madness returns.”
March Madness Winner: Indiana Sports Betting
No matter who comes out as the NCAA champion the true winner of the March Madness tournament will be the state of Indiana. Sports betting has taken off since becoming legal in 2019. Indiana gamblers have wagered over $273 million on sports during February alone. Basketball accounted for over 46% of the state’s total bets.
Budget shortfalls are happening all over the country due to shutdowns, states can look at Indiana for inspiration on how to make up for those losses. Since sports betting became legal in Indiana back in 2019, it’s created over $20 million in tax revenue for the state.
Indiana also has the benefit of hosting all the games within the state so fans who will travel to the games and wager on said games will count towards the total generated in Indiana.
Research and consulting firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming believes that if sports betting were legal in all 50 states, the March Madness tournament could generate $15.9 billion in handle annually.
March Madness is one of the big three betting periods in the United States, the other two being the college football bowl season and the NFL’s Super Bowl