March Madness Betting Volumes Set To Reach Record-Breaking Levels in 2021


New research from the American Gaming Association (AGA) shows some interesting statistics and it’s good news for online sports betting operators.

Estimates predict huge increases in the number of people betting on March Madness, the three-week long, a single-elimination, seven-round college basketball tournament.

Three times as many Americans planned to wager on this year’s March madness via online sportsbooks compared to 2019.

In 2019, the AGA reported that 5.8 million people and over $8.5 billion, combining both legal and illegal bets, was gambled on March Madness in 2019. This figure is expected to rise to 17.8 million people wagering online on this year’s event.

Betting Facts & Figures

  • 8.3 million bettors are expected to place a March Madness bet at a physical sportsbook, which is up 79% from 2019
  • 45% of American adults are now living in a state with legalized sports betting
  • 47.4 million American adults plan to bet on March Madness (that’s more than 20% of the population)

Unquestionably the pandemic is a major factor in this dramatic growth of anticipated bettors, as is the expansion of the legal betting market and the increase in the popularity of sports-betting.

Darren Moore of said, “There are now over 73 million more Americans within 14 new legal jurisdictions who can now legally place bets on March Madness this year compared to 2019 which has sportsbooks seeing unprecedented levels of activity. ”

March Madness Brackets

With legal online gambling now allowed in 25 states, wagering on the NCAA tournament looks set to be a slam dunk for sports betting operators and may sound the death knell for the friendly office pool.

However, 36.7 million Americans have said that they still plan to fill out a bracket this year – down 8 percent from 2019.

For many people the office pool has become a little boring and actual gamblers realise they need to place traditional wagers if they hope to win a few dollars.

The AGA’s report predicts a big increase of traditional NCAA bets on the game lines and Futures markets is expected this year with 30.6 million Americans expected to make such bets, which is up 17.8 million from two years ago.

March Madness Schedule

March Madness has already begun but things are slightly different this year due to COVID-19. For the first time, the entire tournament is being held in a single state, Indiana.

  • March 18-19: First Round
  • March 20-21: Second Round
  • March 25-26: Sweet 16
  • March 27-28: Elite Eight
  • April 3: Final Four
  • April 5: National Championship

The National Championship final will take place at the Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis.

At the time of writing, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are favorites to take home the NCAA championship trophy with their NCAA Futures odds showing a 17% chance, followed by Florida State University (11%) and Baylor University (8%).

Other March Madness Facts & Figures

  • The odds of predicting all 63 March Madness games correctly is 1 in 9.2 quintillion! (That’s 9,200,000,000,000,000,000)
  • The longest streak of winning NCAA tournament bracket selections to start the tournament currently stands at an amazing 49, with an Ohio player correctly picking the entire 2019 NCAA tournament into the Sweet 16.
  • Betting with friends/colleagues remains popular – March Madness will likely generate $4.6 billion of wagers from 40 million people betting with friends and colleagues through a total 149 million brackets, the AGA said.
  • Regulated Vs International Sportsbooks : The remaining $3.9 billion of wagers will come mostly by way of international websites and bookmakers, though 4.1 million people will also place legal bets through licensed U.S based casinos and sportsbook operators.
  • 42% of fans said they followed college basketball more closely this season, with 70% of those following more closely attributing their increased attention to the increased availability of sports betting.


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