$15.5 billion in wagers

March Madness to draw bets from 68 million American adults, AGA data shows

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The American Gaming Association has revealed the results of a survey that shows that a quarter of all American adults (68 million) plan to wager $15.5 billion on this year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.

The results unveil that 31 million American adults intend to place a traditional sports wager online, at a retail sportsbook or with a bookie; 21.5 million plan to bet casually with friends; and 56.3 million intend to participate in a bracket contest. 

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

AGA President and CEO Bill Miller explained: “March Madness is one of the best traditions in American sports - and America’s most wagered-on competition. 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.”

While 18 million more American adults plan to wager on March Madness compared to last month’s Super Bowl, it is expected that half a billion dollars less are wagered 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. This year’s March Madness, with 67 games over three weeks, will be the first to feature Las Vegas as a regional host location. 

"With the excitement around March Madness, the AGA and our members want to remind anyone getting in on the action to have a game plan to bet responsibly. That means setting a budget, knowing the odds, keeping it social, and always playing legally," added Miller.   

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%).

Nationwide, 33 states and Washington D.C. currently feature live, legal sports betting markets, with three additional legal markets awaiting launch. More than half of American adults (57%, 146 million) live in a live, legal sports betting market. 

The survey was conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of AGA between March 1-3, among a national sample of 2,200 adults. 

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