March Madness Signals Big Shift in Sports Betting

    • A poll found that 47 million Americans are expected to bet on the upcoming NCAA March Madness tournament.
    • The number of online bettors on the tournament has more than tripled since 2019.

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To see the tectonic shift in sports betting, look no further than March Madness.

A Morning Consult survey commissioned by the American Gaming Association found that 47 million Americans will make bets on the NCAA Tournament, starting on Thursday.

Two major trends: many are swapping out brackets for traditional up-or-down bets, such as whether or not Gonzaga will make the Final Four, and online betting is surging

  • The raw number of bettors is expected to be roughly equal to 2019, but the amount betting online will more than triple to 17.8 million from 5.8 million in 2019. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.
  • That figure accounts for much of the surge in traditional bets, which will rise 72% to 30.6 million, according to the survey.

About 36.7 million people are expected to fill out a March Madness bracket this year, an 8% dip from 2019.

“The sports betting landscape has changed dramatically since 2019 – and as a result, tournament betting has transformed,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller, who noted the effect of legalized sports betting in half the U.S. states and Washington D.C.

New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Virginia each have a provision in their sports betting laws that make it illegal to bet on college teams within their home state.