With March Madness well underway, the tension is building as the tournament makes its way through the knockout rounds. March Madness is a hugely popular event in the US but what makes it so attractive from a betting perspective?
We caught up with Amelco’s Director of Trading, Mark Hill, to discuss who could be the major players in terms of bets and his predictions as the tournament unfolds.
March Madness is a truly unique event. with a plethora of bets available, how difficult can it be pricing this up? And which bet do you think will be the most popular throughout the tournament?
Core pricing itself is pretty easy as the market has matured over the course of the NCAA season where all 68 teams entering the bracket will have racked up in excess of 30 games. This is a decent sample size when you consider the NFL regular season is just 17 games. In 2022, it was St. Peter’s that became the giant killer after their unexpected and incredible run and this time around it looks to be Princeton capturing the public’s imagination after their run to the “Sweet 16” in the South Region seeing off Arizona and Missouri along the way.
It’s a really exciting time for Amelco with the Same Game Parlay product supplemented by Player Prop markets from our partners Swish Analytics. This is likely to prove very popular as the tournament moves into the latter stages. We have also introduced micro betting on the NCAA Tournament for the very first time on our platform with a recently completed integration of the hugely successful Simplebet. Whilst Money Line, Spread and Total bets will still account for the largest volume monetary wise, bet count on the SGPs and Micro Markets could exceed that this year, in what is sure to be a thrilling finale to March Madness.
Which of Amelco’s 17 live states do you expect to do the most business during March Madness?
Arkansas and Ohio are likely to see the biggest volume on an Amelco platform. In Arkansas, we have the Bet Saracen brand that is all about building a localised offering and following. The market share there has been phenomenal, but the hard work won’t stop here. New integrations and platform improvements ahead of the Big Dance are likely to hold that volume with the Hogs already defying their lower seed to keep the Arkansas natives happy.
In Ohio, we’ve been stunned by Hard Rock’s success across online and retail since being one of the first to market in the Buckeye State. Similar to Saracen in Arkansas, Hardrock are enhancing their core product with regular updates and are carving out a decent market share against their competitors.
Will the excitement of events such as March Madness be a springboard for other states to jump on the bandwagon of legalised sports betting?
As America’s most comprehensive platform, we are live and licensed across 17 states, so we definitely have an eye on expanding as the year carries on. Our sportsbook partners more than hold their own against the so-called “big boys” in competitive markets such as New Jersey, Michigan and Colorado. So far, states who are closing in on legislation will have seen the huge benefits surrounding tax and taken note of existing models that other states have used. There is no doubt that more states will become legalised as we extend further in 2023 and beyond.
Mobile betting continues to grow apace. With the US still in its infancy as a sports betting aficionado, do you think that this method will continue to grow during and after March Madness?
I see no reason why the rapid growth of mobile betting shouldn’t go side-by-side with a land-based model as there is a lot going for one another to flourish together. The retail numbers at launch for FedEx Field and Fanatics have been mightily impressive and a more traditional casino and hotel-based business continues to thrive.
At Amelco, we take great pride in developing both modules at a rapid pace whilst keeping in mind all the latest industry innovations and demands. Whilst mobile betting is expected to take a big chunk of bets, nothing really beats enjoying the company of others when taking in the biggest and best sports events and tournaments. It was fantastic to see record retail numbers during the soccer World Cup in Qatar and the Super Bowl in February and I expect to see the same during March Madness.
February and March have seen huge US sporting events with the Super Bowl and March Madness. What can keep bettors and operators interested throughout the spring and summer?
Following the conclusion of March Madness, basketball and ice hockey are once again thrust back into the limelight as the play-offs kick off imminently once the NCAA finishes. As the summer progresses, tennis begins to take the public’s imagination with the French Open and Wimbledon, and golf is also at its height, with the US PGA, US Open and The Open falling within a two-month spell between May and July. The MLB season will have also ramped up as June begins.
In soccer, there looks set to be a thrilling end to the EPL and the Champions League, whilst many other major soccer leagues in Europe begin winding down towards the end of July. Off the field, the NFL draft is becoming more and more popular from a betting perspective and continues to grow each year.
Whilst the summer months are seen as quieter times for bettors and operators, we are increasingly optimistic that business will maintain a healthy balance as we are offering competitive and diverse options across many sports during this period.
Who do you think will win March Madness and which underdog do you think will go furthest?
Alabama looks by far and away the strongest contender and most likely winner on the metrics and season-long performance. They tick all the boxes and stood out amongst the number one seeds pre-tournament. They cruised through Conference play and as +800 second favourites going into the Big Dance, they have eased through to the “Sweet 16” where they face San Diego St and then likely Creighton in the “Elite 8”.
I said before the tournament that Florida Atlantic could be primed to go on a decent run. The #9 seed in the East Region edged past a tough opponent Memphis 66-65 in a thrilling first round clash and beat the #1 seed, Purdue’s, as well as surprise conquerors, Fairleigh Dickinson, in the second round. They are now set to face the #4 seed, Tennessee, in the “Sweet 16”, who saw off the #5 seed, Duke, in impressive fashion in round two. It certainly is all to play for!