US Sports Betting Update – March Madness handle expected to smash through the $3bn barrier
Sports fans will wager a record $3.1 billion on this year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, according to a new American Gaming Association report. The AGA commissioned Morning Consult to survey 2,210 adults on their plans for betting on March Madness. The survey took place on February 26 and 27, and 17% of the respondents said they planned to bet on the tournament in the weeks ahead.
The AGA used the results to deduce that 45 million Americans will wager on March Madness this year. That figure includes betting at legal sportsbooks, wagering casually with friends, using a neighborhood bookie or taking part in a bracket contest. The survey found that 76% of wagers would be placed outside of brackets, up from 55% last year.
“Americans continue to make it clear: they want to wager with the protections of the legal, regulated market.” said AGA president and chief executive Bill Miller. “There’s no doubt this year will generate the highest legal handle in March Madness history. There’s nothing more thrilling in sports than the magic of March Madness. If you’re getting in on the action, have your game plan to bet responsibly. That means setting a budget, keeping it fun, learning the odds and playing legally.”
Thirty states now offer legal sports betting, and three more are pending launch. Since last year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming have all launched legal sports wagering. That means more than 29 million extra American adults can legally bet in their home states. New York has also added online sports betting, swiftly becoming the largest market in the country.
Gonzaga Favored to Seize Glory
Seventeen percent of those polled named Gonzaga as their favorite to win the trophy, followed by Duke (12%) and Kentucky (11%). Last year, the Zags made it all the way to the final, and they stood on the brink of a perfect season, but they lost to a fired-up Baylor team. Yet they are the favorites once again this year, best priced at +300 with BetMGM. Arizona is next in the betting at +700 with FanDuel, followed by Baylor and Kansas at +1000. Duke is priced at +1600, but Kentucky has already crashed out in one of the NCAA Tournament’s biggest ever upsets.
This is a crucial time of year for sportsbooks as they battle it out for market share. As such, the three largest sports betting sites in the country have launched tempting March Madness bonuses. FanDuel is offering a “Bet $5, Win $150” bonus for new customers. You can sign up, make a deposit of $10 or more, place a $5 moneyline bet on any college basketball team and instantly receive $150 in site credits, regardless of whether your March Madness bet wins or loses.
DraftKings has eclipsed that by offering a “Bet $5, Win $200” bonus for new customers that bet on March Madness. However, the free bet credits will only be released if your qualifying wager wins. BetMGM has a “Bet $10, Win $200” offer too. You can sign up and bet $10 on any March
Madness game, and you will get $200 in free bet credits if a single 3-pointer is scored. That may well be the best offer of the lot, as 3-pointers are always scored.
Sportsbooks Report Robust February Trading Figures
In other news, handle and revenue figures for February are starting to trickle in. New Jersey reported that sports bettors wagered $958.6 million last month. It was the first time since August 2021 that the Garden State’s handle did not eclipse $1 billion. However, that should not be a cause for undue concern in the industry. After all, there are only 28 days in February, and it is a relatively quiet month in the sporting calendar. It does include the Super Bowl, but January is always a lot busy due to the busy schedule of NFL playoff games. The handle is expected to bounce back to record heights in March, before cooling off until the new NFL season starts in the fall.
New Jersey sportsbooks held just 3.1% of the wagers they accepted in February, leading to revenue of $30.9 million. It was the lowest revenue figure since July 2020, when the major sports leagues were starting up again following coronavirus shutdowns. However, New Jersey operators will be pleased to note that the handle increased 32.7% year-on-year compared to February 2021. It was undoubtedly a good month for Garden State bettors, but it remains to be seen whether they can continue to beat the books during March Madness, particularly in light of upsets like Kentucky’s demise.
Elsewhere, the handle declined 18.8% month-on-month in Indiana. Tennessee reported an 18.2% drop compared to January, while Iowa’s handle declined by 28.8%. Yet it bears repeating that this is to be expected at this time of year. Bettors had a strong month across the country, as the hold dropped to a mere 4.1% in Indiana. That can be attributed to the Rams securing a comeback win at Super Bowl 56, and some blowout wins for popular NBA teams.
Noah Signs Rush Street Interactive Deal
NBA legend Joakim Noah has signed up as a brand ambassador for Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse brands. The two-time NBA All-Star, who spent nine years with the Chicago Bulls, will provide weekly video content for the brands. “Joining with BetRivers to create content for Chicago and beyond is a great way to connect with fans and to spread the word about Noah’s Arc Foundation and the positive impact we can have on the city's youth,” said Noah. “I look forward to joining the team to enhance the betting experience while sharing my passion for basketball.”
Rush Street Interactive chief executive Richard Schwartz added: “We are thrilled to have a former Chicago Bull join our BetRivers family. Joakim Noah will bring his love, passion, and knowledge of basketball to help create a more engaging betting experience for our players.” He said that Noah will also feature in a BetRivers marketing campaign that will feature television, radio, and billboard ads.