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EKG: March Madness to Generate a $2.7B Handle, With 40% Bet-in Play

March Madness is an exciting time for all basketball fans and bettors in the United States. Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG) estimates that U.S. bettors are likely to wager nearly $2.7 billion on the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. Betting takes place on games played over a period of 18 days from March 19th to April 8th.

Casual bets have increasingly given way to more formal gambling as legal sports betting spreads across the U.S. While the Super Bowl draws large bets, it is a game between two NFL teams. March Madness involves many games and many teams.

March Madness odds

March Madness odds are available for betting at legal sportsbooks across the U.S. At a sportsbook, when you look at the odds, a (-) sign indicates the favorite and a (+) indicates the underdog. Within regulated US sports betting, there are numerous ways to bet on sports like basketball. Bettors can bet on which teams will reach the Sweet 16 or the Elite 8. They can bet on whether a team will win their region, make the Final Four, play in the title game, or win the whole thing.

Last year, the University of Connecticut won the tournament and is a favorite to win again this year, with Purdue and Houston not far behind. March Madness is called that for a reason. The unexpected often happens. Have some fun, root for some underdogs, and enjoy the madness.

In-play betting

From 35 to 40% of the total betting handle is expected to come from in-play betting. This is about 5% more than came from in-play betting in 2023. In-play betting is when bettors place real money bets on sports events while they are happening. It means they can assess what is taking place before they place their bets.

Basketball attracts more live wagering than other sports. Operators can keep lines up for longer. This is due to the flowing nature of the game, where each score has less impact on the outcome than in a game like football.

Same-game parlays

Same-day parlays (SGPs) aren’t as popular in basketball as in football. At the NFL Super Bowl, SGPs counted for 25% of the betting handle, whereas SGPs are only expected to count for 5% of the March Madness betting handle.

Sports betting launches in North Carolina

The launch of regulated sports betting in North Carolina could have a positive impact on the total betting handle. As much as 8% could come from the state, with sports bettors wanting to make quick money. North Carolina has some highly-ranked men’s teams and hosts early-round games.

States with the largest expected total betting handles 

New York, New Jersey, and Illinois are expected to bring more than North Carolina. New York is expected to generate a nationwide share of about 15%. New Jersey and Illinois are expected to generate 11.6% and 10.4% of the nationwide share. North Carolina could generate the fourth-largest betting handle.

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