NEW YORK (Reuters) – About 47 million people – one in five American adults – are expected to bet a combined $8.5 billion on “March Madness,” the annual men’s college basketball tournament, a new report said yesterday.
A plurality of bettors – 29 percent – favour Duke University’s Blue Devils to win, according to a report from the American Gaming Association (AGA), a casino industry group.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s tournament to determine the Division I men’s basketball champions begins today and ends April 8 in Minneapolis.
This year is the first time the tournament will be held since a US Supreme Court ruling in May 2018 allowed states to legalise, regulate and tax sports betting.
As the nascent legal US sports betting industry expands, major events like the NCAA’s March Madness are providing first glimpses of how many betters may want to move from illegal to legal wagering, and how much money casinos, racetracks and bookmakers stand to make in the years to come.
A report from Eilers & Krejcik gaming analysts on Friday estimated that if all 50 US states had legal online sports betting, sportsbooks would handle $15.2 billion of total wagers just for March Madness alone, grossing about $1.2 billion of revenue.
This years March Madness will likely generate $4.6 billion of wagers from 40 million people betting with friends and colleagues through a total 149 million brackets, the AGA said.
The remaining $3.9 billion of wagers will come mostly by way of illegal offshore websites and bookies, though 4.1 million people will also place legal bets through licensed casinos and sportsbook operators.