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March Madness survey: 54% of bettors less interested in brackets due to legalized online sports betting

March Madness' Final Four 2022: Villanova Wildcats vs. Kansas Jayhawks on April 2.
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After the Final Four games, NCAA Basketball Tournament 2022, March Madness, is seeing its final Championship Game on Monday. A recent survey conducted by the National Research Group after last week's Elite Eight Games finds that the push for legal online sports betting combined with the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a move away from tournament brackets.

The survey covered 1,000 American bettors ages 18 to 64, on March 28-29. 60% of respondents who bet on the 2022 NCAA tournament did not fill out a bracket. Only 8% of bettors surveyed filled out a bracket without betting on any individual games. 

The survey shows that 54% of respondents are less interested in March Madness brackets due to legalized online sports betting, compared with 26% who disagree. Also, 49% said they were less interested in filling out a bracket now than before the pandemic and 57% stated that not physically being in an office made them less likely to fill out a bracket this year. 

As of March 31, 39% of NCAA tournament bettors wagered $250 or more on games and another 24% have bet between $100 and $250. While 24% of bettors have wagered on more than 10 games during this year’s tournament, the vast majority (63%) have bet on between three and 10 games. Younger Americans (69% for ages 21-34) were more likely to bet on the tournament than older Americans (52% for ages 45-64) but less likely to wager on a bracket (36%) than their older counterparts (48%).

Ahead of the tournament, the American Gaming Association (AGA) predicted that 45 million American adults were expected to wager a total of $3.1 billion throughout this year's edition, down slightly from the 47.4 million adults who wagered in 2021. The AGA estimated that bettors would place 76% of their wagers outside of brackets, up from 55% in 2021. It also said that about 20.9 million Americans were expected to bet on the tournament outside of bracket contests through a retail sportsbook online, with a bookie or casually with friends, down 32% from 2021 but up nearly 20% from 2019. Meanwhile, 36.5 million Americans were expected to wager via a bracket contest or similar pool, about flat from 2021.

Since last year’s tournament, 29 million more American adults can legally wager in their home state compared with March Madness 2021, with Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming launching new legal sports betting markets. 

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