According to PlayUSA estimates, the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will “almost certainly” be the first athletic event in US history to draw more than $1 billion in legitimate wagering, which could reach $1.5 billion.
However, with data missing from 2020 due to the tournament’s cancellation and a dramatically altered sports betting environment now apparent throughout the world, caution is advised in gauging interest in the event.
With too many factors at stake, experts estimate that New Jersey will take the lead with $300 million in wagering, but Indiana, where the tournament will be held in its entirety, is also expected to attract attention.
‘Most widely bet-on sporting event in US history
Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayUSA.com said: “The 2021 NCAA Tournament will be the most widely bet-on sporting event in US history.
“The popularity of the NCAA Tournament combined with such a high number of games typically makes March Madness the largest sports betting holiday each year in terms of handle, and there is no reason to suspect that won’t be the case this year.
“But the number of legal sports betting markets has more than tripled since 2019 and we are still in the midst of a pandemic that could slow retail sportsbooks. Those reasons alone make this year difficult to predict.”
Bettors in New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Mississippi, Rhode Island, and West Virginia produced $440 million in bets last time out, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the nation’s total handle in March.
The US landscape has changed radically, with 20 states and Washington, DC now promising a kind of legal sports betting.
In 2019, only about 26 million adults had legal access to sportsbooks in their home states, compared to about 86 million adults who could lawfully gamble in their home states today.
Super Bowl And March Madness
Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayUSA.com said: “The Super Bowl draws the most bets for a single game, but March Madness and its 60+ games should more than double what the Super Bowl draws.
“But the dramatic expansion of legal markets, as well as the exponential growth within each market, means more people will have an opportunity to bet on the NCAA Tournament than ever before. And that will produce an eye-popping handle number that could reach $1.5bn.”