Big East March Madness basketball tournament produces betting torrent

March Madness betting is looking promising at Encore. (Photo by Joe Resnek)

By Josh Resnek

The final tally hasn’t yet been tabulated nationwide, or locally here at the Encore Casino and Hotel, but sports betting was over the top for the nation’s most popular basketball tournament – the Big East.

According to a detailed report on CBS, bout 68 million Americans placed a wager on the games, up from 45 million in 2022, the American Gaming Association predicted.

Of that number, 31 million bet online, at a sportsbook or with a bookie, while 21.5 million bet casually with friends, it found.

Some 56 million Americans likely filled out a bracket.

Alabama, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Texas A&M and UCLA were this year’s favorites to win.

The American Gaming Association expected total bets on the tournament to be roughly $15.5 billion, slightly less than the $16 billion Americans wagered on this year’s Super Bowl, according to CBS.

The gaming association drew its estimates from an online survey of 2,200 adults conducted earlier this month. By comparison, an estimated 50 million placed some kind of bet on Super Bowl LVII in February, according to the association.

The increase in people gambling on March Madness is attributable to more states having legalized online sports betting since last year’s competition, the trade group said. Sports gambling is now legal for more than half of all U.S. adults, American Gaming President Bill Miller said in a statement, according to CBS.

The entrance of Massachusetts into the online sports betting scene was expected to give some impact to the added weight of betting and total receipts when official March figures are released shortly.

In a decades-long tradition around March Madness, Americans fill in brackets as they try to guess which team will emerge as champion from a three-week gauntlet of 67 televised games. Fans typically vie for cash prizes organized through an office pool from their employer or a friendly wager with family and friends, CBS reported.

Draft Kings, FanDuel, Caesars Sportsbook and Wynn WynnBet Sportsbook are all prominently mentioned as the leaders of this emerging industry.

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