March Madness 2019: Over 45M U.S. adults expected to bet $8.5B on brackets, survey shows

With sports betting finally legal, gamblers are expected to wager a lot of money on the NCAA Tournament.

According to a survey released Monday by the American Gaming Association, approximately 47 million Americans are expected to bet $8.5 billion during March Madness, with 149 million brackets accounting for the majority of the wagering.

Furthermore, 29 percent of the respondents favored Duke to win it all following its ACC Tournament championship win over Florida State on Saturday. The next closest favorite is Gonzaga at a measly nine percent, followed by North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and Michigan.

“They are in the national championship mix every year,” William Hill U.S. director of trading Nick Bogdanovich told USA TODAY Sports. “Under Coach K, they have been the New England Patriots of college basketball. Like the sun coming up in the morning, you can rely on Duke money.”

Of those wagers, an estimated 4.1 million people will place bets legally. On the other hand, nearly 18 million people will bet $3.9 billion at a sportsbook, online, with a bookie or with a friend.

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“Before the PASPA Supreme Court decision, there were very limited opportunities to wager legally,” AGA’s president and chief executive officer Bill Miller said. “Those opportunities are increasing and that’s a good thing. As more people become aware there is a legal method to wager, I think the interest in sports betting will only get larger.”

The Supreme Court ruled last May that a federal ban on state-sanctioned sports betting is unconstitutional. Sports betting legalization is currently being considered in 23 states.

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