U.S. Sports Betting Sites Projected to See March Madness Wagering Boom

The expansion of regulated sports gambling in the U.S. is expected to drive a healthy share of new wagering on this year’s tournament.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2023 12:00 PM ET Read Time: 2 min
Antonio Reeves Kentucky Wildcats SEC March Madness college basketball
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. gaming industry could see a serious uptick in March Madness-related wagering this year at retail and online sports betting sites.

Based on the results of an online survey done for the American Gaming Association (AGA) earlier this month, the industry group said Sunday that around a quarter of American adults, or 68 million people, planned to wager $15.5 billion on this year's NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.

Those figures are up significantly from the AGA's projections for the 2022 edition of March Madness, when 45 million adults were projected to wager $3.1 billion on the games. Indeed, the AGA is forecasting a 51% jump in the number of adults wagering on the college basketball tournament in 2023 compared to 2022 and a 400% year-over-year increase in dollars gambled on the event. 

Behind the b-ball boom

But there is now legal sports betting in 33 states and Washington, D.C., with more than half of American adults, or approximately 146 million people, living somewhere with regulated event wagering. Those markets include newcomers since last year's tournament such as Massachusetts and Ohio, as well as the recent launch of online sports betting in Maryland.

It's the expansion of regulated sports gambling in the U.S. (coupled with what the AGA called "a resurgence of bracket contests") that is expected to drive a healthy share of new wagering on this year’s tournament

“March Madness is one of the best traditions in American sports—and America’s most wagered-on competition,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said in a press release. “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.”

The AGA said its research points to 31 million or so adults expecting to place a traditional sports wager on March Madness at some point, whether at a retail sportsbook, online betting site, or with a bookie. There are also 21.5 million people forecast to bet casually with their friends and 56.3 million anticipated to compete in a bracket contest.

In 2022, the AGA research suggested that 45 million American adults would wager on March Madness, with 20.9 million opting to do so at sportsbooks, with bookies, or with friends, and 36.5 million filling out brackets.

This year, Kentucky is the most popular choice among bettors to win the national title, with 9% of those surveyed for the AGA’s research backing the Wildcats. That’s followed by Texas A&M at 8%, and then Gonzaga, UCLA, and Alabama at 6%.

“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,” Miller added in the release. “That means setting a budget, knowing the odds, keeping it social and always playing legally.” 

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