Americans To Bet Billions On March Madness: AGA

A quarter of American adults (68 million) plan to wager $15.5 billion on this year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, according to a new survey from the American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s top lobbying group.

Sports betting is live and legal in over 30 states.

Thirty-one million American adults plan to place a traditional sports wager online, at a retail sportsbook or with a bookie, with 21.5 million planning to bet casually with friends and 56.3 million planning to participate in a bracket contest.

“March Madness is one of the best traditions in American sports—and America’s most wagered-on competition,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “Critically, the expansion of regulated sports betting over the past five years has brought safeguards to more than half of American adults who can now bet legally in their home market.”

The growth in March Madness betting is driven by a resurgence of bracket contests and Americans taking advantage of the expansion of legal online wagering. Three-fourths of online bettors say this will be their first time betting on March Madness online.

While 18 million more American adults plan to wager on March Madness compared to last month’s Super Bowl, Americans are expected to wager half a billion dollars less on the tournament than they planned to wager on the Big Game.

Since last year’s tournament, Kansas, Massachusetts and Ohio have launched retail and mobile sports betting markets, while Maryland has launched mobile wagering. With 67 games over three weeks, this year’s March Madness will be the first to feature Las Vegas as a regional host location.

Among bettors, Kentucky is the most popular choice to win the national title (9%), followed by Texas A&M (8%), and Gonzaga, UCLA and Alabama (6%).

Morning Consult conducted the online survey on behalf of the AGA between March 1-3 among a national sample of 2,200 adults. The margin of error is +/- 2 percent.