If there is one month that sports bettors, sports fans, and even casual spectators look forward to, it's the month of March. Not only is March Madness one of the most well-known sporting events out there, but it is also one of the most betted. According to Oddschecker, the March Madness tournament came in as the fourth most bet sporting event of 2022. The NBA Finals, the FIFA World Cup, and the Super Bowl only beat it out. (Via OddsChecker)
According to this data, the March Madness tournament had 4.8 million geolocation checks recorded by bettors to place wagers on the event. This is only .3 million behind the NBA Finals, but a whopping 3 million more geolocation checks than the Stanley Cup. This makes a bit more sense when considering the length of the tournament and the high volume of games. But the question is, how much money is usually bet on the event between these bettors?
Here are the estimated numbers of the total handle wagered in Las Vegas over the last five NCAA Tournaments. (Via the American Gaming Association)
These numbers only reflect the US dollars bet in Las Vegas, not the total handle bet on the event between sports betting kiosks, online outlets, and illegal avenues.
The American Gaming Association estimated that in 2021 almost 10 billion dollars were wagered on the tournament between legal and illegal bets.
In 2022, the estimated number of betting handle dropped significantly from 2021, but still eclipsed over 3 billion dollars wagered. This is likely accredited to the fact there was no March Madness Tournament in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic being at its peak. Bettors everywhere were extra motivated and willing to wager more on the much-anticipated return of this sporting event.
March Madness has a unique betting landscape. Unlike other sporting events, this tournament has a popular form of wagering that draws much more of the general public, in the form of brackets. I am sure most Americans, whether they are sports fans or not, recognize a March Madness Bracket when they see one.
In the AGA estimates for 2022, 45 million Americans were planning to wager on the tournament. That is a little more than 17% of adults in America. However, 36.5 million (81%) of these wagering were reportedly doing so through bracket pools. Whether it is online competitions, office pools held by your work, or bracket pools among friends are wildly popular.
While bracket challenges are popular for the office and also bring in the more casual fans, bettors are moving towards sports books for the majority of wagers. So, March Madness pools will draw a large group willing to spend five or ten dollars to join in on the fun, but usually not more than that extent. The low barrier to entering such pools makes them high in gambling volume, but relatively low in the total betting handle in the event.
In the eighty-three March Madness tournaments, there have been zero perfectly predicted brackets. There is roughly a 1 in 120 billion chance for a bracket to correctly predict the entire tournament. There are sixty-four teams that make the big stage, with four subsections of sixteen teams each, with only one team making it out of each subsection until eventually there is one winner. There are 9.2 quintillion possible outcomes that could occur for every single March Madness tournament. So, while the chase for this is fun, it is not something many are willing to wager much money on.
Now, in your bracket pool, you obviously don't need to find perfection. You likely won't even need to be close to perfect to win. However, the randomness and 9.2 quintillion possible outcomes keep bettors at bay, not risking much. In 2022, there was a reported spike in bettors that placed wagers outside of these pools. Americans were expected to 76% of their wagers on other outlets, which was up 20% from 2021.
The average wager amount on March Madness is between 20-50 dollars. The higher end of wagers comes from what some might refer to as traditional betting. Bets such as:
Spread Betting- betting "how much" of victory in a game. The team favored in a game needs to not only win but win by the given spread.
Moneyline- this is simply a bet on which team/side will win the game or match.
Game Totals- a bet type that you take either the over or under the set line for the total points scored by both teams in a game.
Proposition Props- a wager that is not directly related to the outcome of a game. For instance, you can bet on the tail toss or even the color of the Gatorade at the Super Bowl.
Teasers- a type of bet that a bettor is able to pair alternative spreads or totals together with adjusted odds. If two teams have a -10 spread, a six-point teaser would allow one to pair them together at -4.
Parlays- a bet type with two or more outcomes that are contingent on all selected wagers needed to win. Each added "leg" to a parlay will increase your potential winnings but lower your chance of winning the bet.
These bet types are where we see a large part of the betting handle on March Madness. One major advantage here is the bets can be made for each game as they happen. Thus, allowing the bettor to bet on a known game as the tournament is progressing in real-time. In a bracket, no one knows what the spread or what the moneyline odds are for the Final Four matchups. Well, no one even knows what teams will make it out of the first round, let alone the later rounds. Spread betting and the other bets mentioned above allow a bettor to access matchups as they happen. This gives bettors more of an edge than they have in brackets, where it is blindly picking winners for each round before the first games are even played.
If you do decide to bet on March Madness, do so responsibly. Do your best to not spend too much on the unpredictability of bracket challenges. If you're betting on money lines, spreads, and game totals still make sure you bet within your means.
You can check the handle for every game of the tournament with the Pikkit app. See how Pikkit users are betting, who they are betting on, and if the majority is leaning over or under for a game. Check it out here!