The American Gaming Association (‘AGA’) has suggested that a quarter of all American adults, or 60 million, plan to wager on this year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament (also known as March Madness).

The results are according to a new study undertaken by the American Gaming Association, using a sample of 2,200 to weigh the data and extrapolate wider conclusions.

The breakdown of the AGA study of how the 68 million will have a wager is as follows:

  • 31 million American adults plan to place a traditional sports wager online, at a retail sportsbook or with a bookie
  • 21.5 million plan to bet casually with friends
  • 56.3 million plan to participate in a bracket contest

The AGA expects ‘18 million more American adults’ to wager on March Madness compared to last month’s Super Bowl LVII, however, half a billion dollars less overall. The AGA attribute this largely due to a resurgence of ‘bracket contests’ for the tournaments, as well as the expansion in online legal wagering. According to the AGA, 75 percent of online bettors say this will be the first March Madness in which they placed a March Madness wager online.

“March Madness is one of the best traditions in American sports—and America’s most wagered-on competition,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “Critically, the expansion of regulated sports betting over the past five years has brought safeguards to more than half of American adults who can now bet legally in their home market.”

“With the excitement around March Madness, the AGA and our members want to remind anyone getting in on the action to have a game plan to bet responsibly. That means setting a budget, knowing the odds, keeping it social and always playing legally,” added Miller.

Why will there be such growth?

While the US legalized betting landscape is certainly larger than it was, the figures touted by the AGA are to be taken with a proverbial pinch of salt given they cover ‘casual betting with friends’ and ‘bracket rounds’ which are near impossible to reliably measure. In addition, there is no benefit to the state through tax revenue when there’s casual wagers between friends.

33 states and Washington, D.C. allow live, legal sports betting markets thus providing 57% or 146 million people direct access to a legalized sports betting option.

Perhaps surprisingly, the three most populous states do not have legal sports betting. California sports betting faltered at the final hurdle in 2022, with both Proposition 26 and 27 being denied at the public ballot meaning California mobile sports betting will not arrive until 2024 at the earliest. Texas sports betting remains in legislature for 2023, and commercial analysts are holding out small slithers of hope that legalized TX sports betting could become reality.