According to Macquarie analyst Chad Beynon the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is set to be one of the biggest events of the year for gambling in the US, as ‘March Madness’ betting is on course to reach $4.5 in legal handle.
The 84th annual single elimination tournament is always hailed as one of the most exciting dates on the calendar, with 68 college basketball teams battling it out to reach the Championship game in Houston, Texas at the beginning of April.
Fans and teams alike are breathing a sigh of relief after the weekend’s first round games, but action resumed on Thursday with the round known as ‘Sweet 16’, which analyst Beynon says will most likely drive around 70% of all sports wagering in the US. With the sheer volume of games lending itself to an influx of wagers, the first two rounds account for a sizeable amount of the legal sportsbook handle.
Beynon said: “We estimate the Sweet 16 (8 games) and Elite 8 (4 games) rounds combined represent ~55% of weekly sports betting handle (Mar 23-25) while the Final Four (2 games; April 1) and Championship (1 game; April 3) represent 40-50% of handle.”
Sportsbooks also experienced a major positive in the first rounds following several unforeseen upsets after a 15-seed and 16-seed advanced to the second round for the first time ever, while two 1-seeds dropped out before the Sweet 16.
The average hold for odds-makers as of Friday, March 17th stood at around 8%, although it most likely would have been half of that had it not been for Fairleigh Dickinson University defeating Purdue in what is being coined as the biggest upset in the tournament’s history – it was also the second time a 16-seed beat a 1-seed.
Bettors’ disposition to wagering on the ‘over’ points spread also saw sportsbooks’ hold increase, with around 67% of the games seeing the ‘under’ selection come in.