Research from the American Gaming Association (AGA) shows that more than a quarter of U.S. adults, or 68 million, plan to bet a total of $15.5 billion on this month’s NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.
Of these, 56.3 million adults (83 percent of bettors) plan to take part in a bracket contest; 31 million say they will make a traditional sports bet at a retail sportsbook or through a bookie. Another 21.5 million plan to bet casually with friends.
The survey was done for the AGA by Morning Consult, sampling 2,200 adults between March 1-3.
About 18 million more adults plan to wager on the tournament compared to last month’s Super Bowl. They will, however, bet $500 million less on the tournament than they did on the Super Bowl, per the AGA’s projections.
The leading favorite to win among bettors is Kentucky (9 percent), followed by Texas A&M at 8 percent and Gonzaga, UCLA and Alabama at 6 percent each.
AGA CEO and President Bill Miller said in a statement: “March Madness is one of the best traditions in American sports—and America’s most wagered-on competition.”
He added, “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 expansion of legal sports betting in the U.S., with more than half of the states—33 at last count—now offering sportsbooks, could be considered the main driver of this increased interest.
The most recent states to join are Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland and Ohio. According to the AGA, three-fourths of online bettors say this year will be their first time betting on March Madness.
Miller added, “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.”