Legal sports betting continues to become more widespread across the United States, and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was a flagship event for the rapidly growing industry. According to a study by the National Research Group published after the Elite Eight, more Americans have wagered on this year’s tournament than in any previous year. Aside from the Super Bowl, March Madness stands out as the most prominent sports betting event of the calendar year, and this year was no different.
The National Research Group study was conducted on March 28-29 among 1,000 American respondents between 18 to 64. Sports bettors were defined as anyone who is at least 21 years of age and frequently or occasionally bets on sports.
March Madness Sports Betting Volume Growing
According to the National Research Group study, 31% of Americans aged 21-64 have bet on this year’s tournament. 65% of the bettors reported placing more in wagers this year than in any prior tournament. 39% of bettors said that they wagered a total of $250 or more, and 63% of bettors reported that they wagered $100 or more.
The following is a breakdown of the amount wagered by sports bettors on March Madness this year:
- More than $1,000 – 6%
- Between $500 and $999 – 16%
- Between $250 and $499 – 17%
- Between $100 and $249 – 24%
- Between $50 and $99 – 15%
- Between $20 and $49 – 13%
- Between $5 and $19 – 7%
- Under $5 – 2%
Bracket Impact – Less Interest Overall
With the increasing volume of sports betting on March Madness, fewer brackets were filled out than in any prior year. The study showed that this was due to the availability of legal sportsbooks and a shift to remote working environments resulting in fewer office pools.
60% of people who bet on the tournament didn’t fill out a bracket. 54% of bettors said that legalized sports betting made them less interested in brackets, while 26% disagreed with that statement. 8% of bettors filled out a bracket without betting on any single game. 57% of respondents said that not physically being in an office made them less likely to fill out a bracket.
Blue Bloods Attract Betting Interest
Duke and North Carolina are the two leaders in sports betting interest in this year’s tournament, and the two schools face off in the Final Four this week. While sports betting is only legal in person at tribal-run sportsbooks in North Carolina, the two programs have outstanding national recognition.
The following is a list of the most popular teams to bet on in March Madness according to the National Research Group study:
- North Carolina – 22%
- Duke – 17%
- Kentucky – 13%
- Arizona – 12%
- Gonzaga – 12%
- UCLA – 11%
- Kansas – 11%
- Michigan – 11%
- Miami – 11%
- Villanova – 10%
- Notre Dame – 10%
- Ohio State – 10%
- Purdue – 10%
- St. Peter’s – 9%
Most Popular Types of Wagers
The following are the most popular bet types in the NCAA Tournament so far according to the study:
- Moneyline – 39%
- Live game bets – 30%
- Spread bets – 28%
- Parlays – 27%
- Over/under bets – 27%
- Futures – 25%
- Same-game parlays – 25%
How Many Games and Rounds did Bettors Place Wagers On?
According to the study, 24% of bettors have wagered on ten or more games during this year’s tournament. The vast majority of respondents (63%) had bet on between three and ten games. 54% of NCAA Tournament bettors placed a wager on the First Round, the most of any round, and it has steadily declined each round. 46% bet on the Second Round, 44% bet on the Sweet Sixteen, and 30% bet on the Elite Eight.
Despite the volume of bets in each round decreasing, the volume over the Final Four games and the championship is expected to be massive. Duke and North Carolina are set to meet for the first time in the tournament, with Kansas and Villanova also blue bloods remaining in the tournament. The presence of those blue bloods will help boost sports betting volume, and states across the country should be reporting impressive handle numbers for March in the near future.