March Madness Betting Handle, at $1.56B, Bigger Than Expected

Betting March Madness betting handle larger than expected
May 06, 2021 01:05Tim Ronaldson

Sportsbooks across the country are always excited to see the March Madness NCAA men's basketball tournament start. It's typically a huge boost for sportsbooks in the early spring when most other major professional sports in the United States are dull.

This year, sportsbooks were even more excited after the tournament ended. With so many states in the U.S. now offering legal sports betting, the total sports handle surpassed even the most optimistic projections.

Now, it's possible that other states that haven't legalized sports betting yet could look at the handle and decide they want in on the action, too.

The Total Betting Handle

PlayUSA Network conducted estimates for total sports betting handle for March Madness betting. Overall, in just the United States, that number eclipsed $1.56 billion.

That total betting handle was a lot higher than a number of industry experts expected.

Leading the way was Nevada, which brought in roughly $360 million for the March Madness tournament alone. New Jersey came in second on the list, with $275 million in total March Madness bets.

In recent months, New Jersey had surpassed Nevada for total sports betting handle. But, Nevada is typically the center of the universe when it comes to March Madness sports betting. The first weekend of the tournament is typically one of the busiest in Sin City, and even with the COVID-19 pandemic, that still held true.

Rounding out the top three in terms of states was Illinois, which brought in $176.8 million in total betting handle.

The impressive thing is that PlayUSA Network forecasted that seven states in total brought in more than $100 million just in NCAA Tournament bets. That's quite impressive.

As Eric Ramsey, an analyst for PlayUSA Network, said:

"Betting on the NCAA Tournament came in on the high end of our projections. Enthusiasm in new markets, particularly in Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia, but also in Colorado and Indiana, really helped make March Madness a massive success. It also helped that New Jersey and Nevada, the two largest markets in the U.S., met what were lofty expectations."

Other States Could Now Follow Suit

Results like this could pique the interest of other states that have as of yet legalized sports betting. Even the naysayers and people who are against legalized sports betting have to take notice when large handles like this are reported.

This week, Ohio state Senator Kirk Schuring has plans to hold a press conference where he will announce the introduction of a legalized sports betting bill that he is sponsoring.

Alabama is considering a similar sports betting bill that would change the way gambling in the state is run altogether.

States such as Louisiana and Connecticut, which legalized sports betting recently, are still working out the details of how the whole operation will work in their states.

Florida may start talking about mobile sports betting in the near future, just like New York did recently.

Other states such as Arizona that have legalized sports betting recently are waiting for the next big sporting event so they can get in on the action, too.

The NBA and NHL will soon start their postseason action, and any state that doesn't already have sports gambling in place will likely miss out on that. The next big event on the sports betting calendar is the start of the NFL season in September.

While that's still four months away, time moves fast in the sports betting world. Maybe the reports of the impressive March Madness betting handle will convince some states to move faster than they had originally planned.

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Tim Ronaldson
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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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