The American Gaming Association (AGA) recently reported that over $8.5 billion was wagered on college basketball’s “March Madness” by Americans in 2019 – via a mix of illegal and legal bets.

Of course, 2021 brings with it a new and very different landscape due to the ongoing global health pandemic and also due to the expansion of the legal sports-betting market in the USA.

This year’s NCAA March Madness has begun – but due to COVID-19, for the first time in the history of the competition, the entire tournament is being held in one single state (Indiana this year).

The National Championship Final itself is set to play out on April 5th 2021 at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

March Madness – Betting facts, figures, and trends

The latest research and analysis has brought some interesting March Madness sports-betting estimates, facts, and figures to light.

Three times as many Americans planned to wager on this year’s March madness via online sportsbooks compared to 2019.

The pandemic is unquestionably a factor in the huge increase of anticipated bettors, with 17.8 million people expected to gamble on March Madness this year compared with 5.8 million people in 2019.  

Even so, 8.3 million bettors are expected to place a bet at a physical sportsbook, which is up 79% from 2019.

That figure is only expected to grow in the future with 45% of American adults now living in a state with legalized sports betting and more states opening up.

“We’ve seen a 200% increase in site searches related to March-Madness betting in 2021 – with sports fans looking for the latest odds & futures for the tournament”  

The dramatic growth in the popularity of sports betting over the course of the last two years can be attributed to the expansion of the legal market, as 73.6 million more Americans in 14 new legal jurisdictions can legally place bets on March Madness this year compared to the 2019 tournament.

A March Madness tournament bracket might be great fun, but it’s worth looking at more traditional wagers at more realistic betting odds on the Money Line, Point Spread and Totals for those hoping to realistically win a few dollars.

There could be a big jump in traditional bets on this year’s tournament compared to 2019, with 30.6 million Americans expected to wager such bets, up from 17.8 million two years ago.

Other March-Madness facts & figures:

  • The odds of picking all 63 March Madness games correctly is 1 in 9.2 quintillions! (That’s 9,200,000,000,000,000,000)
  • The longest streak of correct NCAA tournament bracket picks to start the tournament currently stands at an astonishing 49, with an Ohio resident correctly predicting the entire 2019 NCAA tournament into the Sweet 16.
  • 47.4 million American adults plan to bet on March Madness (that’s more than 20% of the population), about the same number that indicated they would bet on the tournament in 2019.  
  • 30.6 million Americans expect to place more traditional bets on this year’s tournament, up from 17.8 million in 2019
  • 17.8 million say they will place a bet online, up 206% from 5.8 million in 2019
  • 8.3 million expect to place a bet at a physical sportsbook, up 79% from 2019
  • Betting with friends/colleagues remains popular – March Madness will likely generate $4.6 billion of wagers from 40 million people betting with friends and colleagues through a total of 149 million brackets, the AGA said.
  • Regulated Vs International Sportsbooks: The remaining $3.9 billion of wagers will come mostly by way of international websites and bookmakers, though 4.1 million people will also place legal bets through licensed U.S based casinos and sportsbooks in las vegas and other states with legal sports betting operators.
  • Gonzaga University’s “Bulldogs” team is the betting  favorite to win the tournament  


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