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Study: March Madness to generate US$15.5bn in bets

68m American adults expected to wager on the 2023 men’s basketball tournament.

15 Mar 2023 Josh Sim

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  • 75% of online bettors to bet on the tournament for the first time
  • Disney reports it has sold out its ad inventory for the women’s tournament

This year’s March Madness will see 68 million American adults place US$15.5 billion in bets, according to a survey conducted by the American Gaming Association (AGA).

The AGA found that a quarter of the US adult population will bet on the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) men’s division basketball tournament, with 75 per cent of online bettors to gamble on the event for the first time.

By comparison, last year the organisation estimated that 45 million people would bet on the 2022 tournament, wagering a total of US$3.1 billion.

The AGA notes that this year’s growth is being driven by more states legalising sports betting. Kansas, Massachusetts and Ohio have all launched retail and mobile sports betting markets in the last 12 months, while Maryland has approved mobile wagering since last year’s March Madness.

According to the AGA, 18 million more people are expected to bet on March Madness than last month’s Super Bowl. The AGA estimated that 50.4 million US adults would bet on the National Football League’s (NFL) showpiece event, with an estimated US$16 billion to be wagered on the game.

Among those betting, Kentucky is the favourite to claim the title, with nine per cent of those surveyed picking the college to win the tournament ahead of Texas A&M, who received eight per cent of the vote.

“March Madness is one of the best traditions in American sports—and America’s most wagered-on competition,” said AGA president and chief executive 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.”

In other news, Disney has confirmed that its ad inventory for the 2023 NCAA women’s basketball tournament has sold out on ESPN platforms. Coverage of the 68-team tournament will feature 15 broadcast sponsors and nearly 100 advertisers across various categories, with Capital One bank and automotive manufacturer Nissan also joining as the women’s tournament challenge sponsors.

“Inclusive sports storytelling is a business imperative for Disney,” said Theresa Palmieri, vice president, Disney Advertising sports brand solutions. “As the exclusive broadcaster of the NCAA division one women’s basketball championship, we always look forward to connecting brands with one of the most exciting collegiate athletic events of the year.

“We are thrilled to see our sponsors and advertisers lean into our continued commitment to women’s sports and have flocked to these offerings.”

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