The annual March Madness basketball event in America has helped New Jersey to achieve near-record gambling revenues, according to PlayNJ analysts.
In the month of March, New Jersey's online and retail sportsbooks and casinos took over $372.5 million worth of bets. This huge figure was primarily fueled by wagers placed on the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
The event also helped the state's gambling industry to cross the $2 billion dollar mark, having now accepted $2.3 million worth of bets since online sports betting was legalized in June 2018.
Read on to find out more about why March Madness is such a big thing in the American gambling industry, how these stats compare with popular UK sports events, and how you can bet on next year's March Madness from the UK.
March Madness – New Jersey Sportsbook Stats
As we've just mentioned, the March Madness basketball tournament pushed New Jersey's sportsbook industry to record highs. The first week of the month-long competition generated more betting action than the Super Bowl, arguably America's biggest sports event.
Below we've highlighted some of the biggest statistics mentioned in the report published by PlayNJ, the independent New Jersey onine gaming industry promoter:
- New Jersey's online and retail sportsbooks accepted $372.5 million worth of bets in March 2019
- New Jersey's online and retail sportsbooks have now acceped over $2.3 billion worth of bets since June 2018
- Online sportsbook brands accounted for 80% ($298.3 million) of all bets placed in March
- New Jersey's online gambling industry's overall revenue in March was $31.7 million, up 150% from $12.7 million in February
- The industry generated $1.3 million per day, during the 31 days of March
- Fanduel Sportsbook was the leading online sportsbook brand, claiming $13.3 million in gross revenue for March, which was over double what the sportsbook took in February
Speaking about the statistics, Dustin Gouker, the lead sports betting analyst for PlayNJ, said, ‘$2 billion in bets in nine months shows just how much pent-up demand for legal sports betting existed in New Jersey.' He also added that he believes that ‘online sports betting will continue to drive the market' as ‘New Jersey's sportsbooks already offer the most advanced online product of any legal sports betting jurisiction [in the US].'
What is March Madness?
March Madness is the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. It is a single-elimination tournament which features 64 college basketball teams from the top division of the NCAA which is played annually during the month of March – hence the name.
Since it's creation in 1939, March Madness has become one of the most famous annual events in the United States. This is because it comes just three months before the NBA draft, which is an event in which teams from the NBA can draft players who wish to join the league, typically college players. This, in UK terms, is a little like the Premier League transfer window.
Why Is March Madness Betting so Popular?
In an article published by Forbes, ahead of the competition, it was predicted that in 2019, 1-in-5 adults in the US will have a bet of some sort on March Madness. This equates to over 18 million people. Bill Miller, the CEO of the American Gaming Association, explained that:
‘Unlike any other sporting event in the country, March Madness attracts millions who will fill out brackets, make casual bets with friends or wager at a legal sportsbook, which Americans can now domore than ever before.'
But what makes March Madness such a popular betting event? Part of it can be explained by the tournament's unpredicatability; teams which may have been predicted to do well can be eliminated in their first match, whilst teams which are generally thought of as worse can go on to place in the finals. This ‘madness' is part of the allure for gamblers – much like betting on the FIFA World Cup or the Grand National.
How Do March Madness Bets Compare with UK Events?
As we've just mentioned, the popularity of betting on March Madness is comparable, culturally, to placing bets on the Grand National or the World Cup in the UK. But how do these events compare financially for the gambling industry?
March Madness vs The Grand National
- In 2019, 12.9 million people were estimated to place a bet on the Grand National.
- Punters betting on the Grand National were expected to spend over £250 million.
- This means that around 1-in-3 adults in the UK bet on the Grand National, which makes the event more popular than March Madness (where 1-in-5 adults were expected to place a wager)
March Madness vs FIFA World Cup
- During last year's (2018) FIFA World Cup, the UK was expected to spend £2.5 billion on betting
- UK betting activity surged by 50% ahead of England's opening game
- Compared to New Jersey's figures from Februrary and March (pre-March Madness and during), this is a smaller increase in betting activity
- That being said, UK punters, in general, place more regular sports bets than gamblers in the US
Whilst it's fun to weigh up these figures, the truth is that the markets aren't really all that comparable. This is because the UK has a long, rich history with sports betting (both online and offline). In contrast, online and offline sports betting has been mainly illegal in the US for many years.
Can You Bet on March Madness in the UK?
If the overwhelming excitement of March Madness has got you interested in placing a bet, the good news is that you can do this from the UK.
Whilst you'll have to wait until next year's tournament to place your wagers, you can do so through many of the UK's biggest and best online sportsbooks, including 888 Sport and Unibet.