47 Million Americans Are Expected to Bet on NCAA March Madness

Mar 16, 2021 02:03Tim Ronaldson
More Americans expected to bet on March Madness

Legal sports betting in many states through the U.S. is expected to significantly increase sports betting on March Madness this year.

The American Gaming Association published figures recently that revealed they expect more than 47 million Americans to place wagers on the NCAA men's basketball tournament this year.

This is a huge increase from the last time March Madness was held in 2019. Last year's tournament was canceled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the same time, the AGA expects participation in bracket contests will decrease.

As Bill Miller, the CEO and president of the AGA said:

"The sports betting landscape has changed dramatically since 2019 -- and as a result, tournament betting has transformed. As consumers formerly limited to bracket contest now enjoy access to legal sportsbook options, they also plan to place traditional sports bets as March Madness resumes."

The Devil is in the Details

One interesting takeaway from the AGA's statistics is that the number of Americans expected to wager on March Madness this year remains flat from 2019. What is expected to change is the type of wagers being made.

A survey from Morning Consult found that 36.7 million Americans plan to fill out a tournament bracket this year, which represents a drop of 8% from 2019. In addition, traditional betting is expected to surge from 17.8 million Americans doing so in 2019 compared to 30.6 million expected to do so this year.

Even more impressive is that online sports betting on the March Madness tournament is expected to increase by 206% over 2019 -- from 5.8 million to 17.8 million people.

Even in-person betting at land-based sportsbooks is expected to increase, though. A total of 8.3 million Americans are expected to place a March Madness wager at a physical sportsbook, which would be a 79% increase over 2019.

Betting Drove Interest in College Basketball

Another interesting finding of the study is that 42% of fans said they were following college basketball this year more closely than they had in the past. The overwhelming reason for this? Because of sports betting.

Of those fans, 70% said they were following NCAA basketball more closely this year because of the increased availability of legal sports betting in the United States.

Currently, the 25 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting on the books. Of those 25, 21 have markets that are fully operational.

In addition, there are 17 other states throughout America that have either pre-filed or active legislation that would legalize some form of sports betting.

It's exactly what Miller of the AGA pointed out when he said:

"With more legal, regulated sports betting options than ever before, millions of customers now have safer ways to enjoy all the fun and suspense only March Madness provides."

A New March Madness

The 2021 March Madness tournament will have the same format as all previous NCAA men's basketball tournaments before it.

There are 60 men's college basketball teams that have already earned their spot in the tournament. Eight other teams will battle it out for the remaining four spots.

The big difference this year will be the scheduled. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, all games in the March Madness tournament will be held in venues in Indianapolis. In other years, games were held all over the country.

This First Four round will take place on Thursday, March 18. All four games will be held on the same day, instead of split between two days as in years past.

Round 1 games will take place on Friday and Saturday, March 19 and March 20. Round 2 will take place Sunday and Monday, March 21-22.

Sweet 16 games will be held on Saturday and Sunday, March 27-28, with Elite Eight games on Monday and Tuesday, March 29-30.

The Final Four will be held on Saturday, April 3, with the National Championship game being held on Monday, April 5.

Gonzaga is the tournament's number one overall seed and have 2-1 odds to win the tournament for futures betting. They are followed by the other three #1 seeds -- Baylor at 11-2, Michigan at 6-1 and Illinois at 13-2.

The #2 seeds are next up in the betting odds, with Houston at 14-1, Iowa at 18-1, Alabama at 22-1 and Ohio State at 25-1.

Tim Ronaldson
Lady Liberty
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Tim Ronaldson is a writer, blogger and marketer. He loves all things sports, especially covering the sports betting industry. He joined the AmericaGambles Team 2020 and is mainly responsible for columns and extensive reportage articles.
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