Online Betting Looks To Drive 2021’s March Madness Handle

  • 206% more bettors expect to place online March Madness wagers compared to 2019.
  • Bracket usage is expected to drop by 8%.
  • Retail sportsbook usage is expected to jump 83%.

LAS VEGAS - March Madness is expected to break betting records in the United States, in large part due to how many states have legalized sports betting in recent years.

More than $8.5 billion is expected to be wagered on March Madness in 2021, and bettors are gravitating towards sports betting as opposed to bracket gaming.

The American Gaming Association noted that brackets are down 8% from 2019, which represents a notable drop in bracket participation.

However, with 25 states having legalized sports betting, and 21 having it up and running by the time March Madness starts, there will likely be an uptick in sports betting.

The same AGA report noted that “30.6 million Americans expect to place more traditional bets on this year’s tournament, up from 17.8 million in 2019”

Physical sportsbook use is also expected to go up from 2019, with the report noting that “8.3 million expect to place a bet at a physical sportsbook, up 79% from 2019.”

However, the biggest leap, by far, is in terms of USA online sportsbooks. Per the AGA report, “17.8 million say they will place a bet online, up 206% from 5.8 million in 2019.”

The spike in online gambling is perhaps due to the continuing COVID-19 outbreak, but online gambling holds distinct advantages over retail gambling.

For one, in some states, online gambling is the only option.

The Tennessee Model

Take Tennessee, for instance. Tennessee’s sportsbooks opened in November of 2020, and they took the unusual step of only opening online sportsbooks.

These online sportsbooks brought in more than $130 million in their first month of operation, with tax revenue of $2.4 million for the state.

Tennessee’s model has been looked at by other states who are seeking to legalize sports betting. The success of Tennessee’s model - a success that will likely be buoyed by March Madness - could lead to further online-only sports betting in the USA.

What Is The Correlation?

The lowered interest in bracketology combined with the higher interest in USA online gambling suggests that the two are correlated to some degree.

An inverse correlation would imply that online gambling is cannibalizing some former bracketologists.