Author: David Cooke
March Madness, the colloquial name for the NCAA men’s Basketball Tournament, is aptly named for a variety of reasons, whether it be for the nail-biting, heart-attack-inducing-finishes, or the decrease in worker productivity during the tournament season. The March Madness moniker is even more apt when you consider some studies report an increase of up to 50% in the number of men scheduling their vasectomies in March, in order that they might gain a few extra days of lounging on the couch watching basketball while recovering. The NCAA tournament truly induces Madness. However, perhaps the real reason March Madness is an apt name is because of the sports betting that occurs during the tournament season, with an estimated more than $3 billion wagered.
In the eyes of sports bettors, March Madness is not merely Christmas; it is Easter, Hanukkah, Diwali, the 4th of July, Ramadan, Bastille Day, and Festivus all rolled into one. March Madness differs from other sporting events for two main reasons. The first is that instead of one concentrated day or game, the tournament is a flurry of days, each game representing a new opportunity. The second is that the tournament not only appeals to the sports fan but transcends the devoted and extends to society in general. It is estimated that more than 17 percent of American adults, or 45 million people, will bet on this year’s March Madness, whether it be via brackets, pools, or betting apps. In contrast, the Super Bowl, long perceived as the peak betting and attention-garnering sporting event, received a mere 31.4 million bettors, almost 33% less.
Additionally, with the increase in online sports betting, individuals are no longer betting the customary way, tying the majority of their bets to brackets. An increasing number of wagers are placed on individual games. Bettors are venturing away from traditional avenues according to the American Gaming Association, “Americans expect to place 76 percent of their wagers outside of brackets, up from 55 percent last year.” This coincides with an increase in the number of states that have legalized sports betting. In 2022, “29 million more American adults can legally wager in their home state compared to March Madness 2021 with Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming launching new legal sports betting markets.” Therefore, with more Americans betting on March Madness outside of brackets, and more Americans having the ability to legally participate, it is not out of the question to think that future months of March will only get more Mad as the number of bettors and amount of money wagered increase.