By Skip Charles in Vegas
With the field of 68 set, a new survey from the American Gaming Association finds that 68 million American adults — or roughly a quarter of that population — plan to bet a total of $15.5 billion on the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.
Within that figure, 56.3 million plan to enter a bracket contest, 21.5 million plan to bet casually with friends, and 31 million plan to place a traditional bet online, at a retail sportsbook, or with a bookie.
The expanded access to legal sports betting — including, most recently, in Massachusetts — is leading to more novice bettors:
Three-quarters of surveyed online bettors say this will be their first time betting on March Madness online.
The bettors surveyed are also keying in on certain teams to win the national championship: 9% are backing Kentucky, 8% are on Texas A&M, and 6% are taking either Alabama, Gonzaga, or UCLA.
Given March Madness is a multi-week event, it should be no surprise that there are projected to be more bettors than the Super Bowl (50 million).
However, the magnitude of the Big Game brings out the big bets, as the Super Bowl was projected for $500 million more in handle ($16 billion) than the basketball tournament.