AGA Survey: 47 Million to Place Bets on NCAA Tournament
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March Madness starts Thursday and more than 47 million Americans will place bets on the NCAA Tournament, according to a survey from the American Gaming Association.
The results indicate that online and brick-and mortar sportsbook betting on March Madness is expected to grow dramatically compared to two years ago, compensating for lower expected participation in bracket contests, the survey showed.
The NCAA Tournament was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Virginia won the 2019 championship with an 85-77 victory over Texas Tech. Both teams made this year’s tournament, though the defending champions are dealing with COVID-19 issues. Gonzaga is strongly favored as the No. 1 overall seed this year.
While the overall number of people betting is flat from 2019, there have been significant shifts in how people plan to bet this year. Bracket betting is expected to decline, according to survey respondents, but more traditional sports bets placed online or at a physical sportsbook are expected to more than double.
“The sports betting landscape has changed dramatically since 2019 – and as a result, tournament betting has transformed,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said in a news release. “As consumers formerly limited to bracket contests now enjoy access to legal sportsbook options, they also plan to place traditional sports bets as March Madness returns.”
Since the 2019 NCAA Tournament, over 65.4 million people have gained the opportunity to bet safely in legal markets in 13 new states, the AGA reported.
“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,” the AGA’s Miller said.
Key Findings of March Madness Survey
Other key results from the survey, which was conducted by Morning Consult:
- 36.7 million Americans will fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket, a dip of 8% from 2019.
- 30.6 million Americans will place more traditional bets on this year’s tournament, up from 17.8 million in 2019.
- 17.8 million will place a bet online. That’s an increase of 206% from 5.8 million in 2019.
- 8.3 million will place a bet at a retail sportsbook, up 79% from 2019.
- Overall interest in the men’s basketball tournament is up slightly from 2019, with 26% saying they are extremely or very interested in the tournament, compared to 23% two years ago.
- 42% of college basketball fans said they followed the sport more closely this season, with 70% of those following more closely attributing their increased attention either somewhat or very significantly to having more legal sports betting available.
- Gonzaga is the betting public’s favorite to win the NCAA Tournament (17%), followed by Florida State (11%) and Baylor (8%).
The survey was conducted on behalf of the AGA by Morning Consult between March 3-5 and it had a national sample of 2,200 adults. Interviews were conducted online and data was weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, educational attainment, gender, race and region, according to the news release.
Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. Bettors include those who expect to place a bet online, with a bookie, with a casino sportsbook, casually with a friend or participate in a bracket contest.