47 million Americans expect to wager on the 2021 March March Madness tournament, according American Gaming Association (AGA) research. While the figure matches the number of Americans that planned to wager on the 2019 tournament, the number of Americans placing a wager with a sportsbook will see a dramatic increase from 2019.
Three times as many Americans plan to wager on this year’s tournament via online sportsbooks compared to 2019, while the number of Americans placing wagers at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will nearly double.
47.4 million American adults plan to wager on March Madness, about the same number that indicated they would bet on the tournament in 2019.
36.7 million Americans say they will fill out a bracket, down 8 percent from 2019.
30.6 million Americans expect to place more traditional bets on this year’s tournament, up from 17.8 million in 2019.
17.8 million say they will place a bet online, up 206% from 5.8 million in 2019.
8.3 million expect to place a bet at a physical sportsbook, up 79% from 2019.
The dramatic growth in sport betting’s popularity over the course of two years can be attributed to the expansion of the legal market, as 73.6 million more Americans in 14 new legal jurisdictions* can safely place bets on March Madness this year compared to the 2019 tournament.
2021 March Madness betting trends also reinforce sports betting’s power to drive fan engagement, with a significant portion of college basketball fans reporting they were more interested in the 2020-2021 college basketball because of sports wagering.
Interest in the tournament is up slightly from 2019 with 26% of Americans saying they are extremely or very interested in the tournament, compared to 23% two years ago.
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.
Gonzaga University is the betting public’s favorite to win the tournament (17%), followed by Florida State University (11%) and Baylor University (8%).
This survey was conducted on behalf of the AGA by Morning Consult between March 3- 5, 2021 among a national sample of 2,200 adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, educational attainment, gender, race and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points and higher among subgroups. Bettors include those who expect to place a bet online, with a bookie, with a casino sportsbook, casually with a friend or participate in a bracket contest.
“The sports betting landscape has changed dramatically since 2019 – and as a result, tournament betting has transformed. With more legal, regulated options than ever before, millions of customers now have safer ways to enjoy all the fun and suspense only March Madness provides.” - Bill Miller, President and CEO, American Gaming Association
*Updated to reflect the launch of legal sports betting in North Carolina on March 18.
2019 March Madness Betting Estimates
47 million Americans plan to wager $8.5 billion on the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament