Once again, the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Championship, also known as March Madness, attracted countless sports betting aficionados to Las Vegas. Despite its efforts to distance itself from gambling, the annual tournament continues to attract millions of punters.
The Nevada Independent’s Howard Stutz reported that the West Regional Championship, which is the first time Las Vegas has ever hosted an NCAA tournament, further improved operators’ handle. The BetMGM sportsbook insider, for example, was flooded by basketball fans from many states who wanted to place last-minute wagers.
The games were exciting for operators and sports fans alike. The Las Vegas-y atmosphere managed to excite fans from all states, even appealing to locals.
Despite Chad Beynon’s claim that the March Madness handle will translate into 30% of North American sportsbooks’ total handle, Stutz believes that these figures might be a little different in Vegas because of the heightened activity.
While the NCAA continues to try to distance college sports from wagering, the number of conference tournaments in Las Vegas continues to increase. Some of the events hosted in the Mecca of gambling this year alone include the Pac-12 event at T-Mobile, the Mountain West tournament at Thomas & Mack Center and the WAC championships at the Orleans Arena. Meanwhile, the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson hosted the Big West for the second year in a row.
The NCAA used to be very skeptical of Las Vegas. With time, however, the organization seems to have mellowed down on its stance, in part thanks to all the recent events and developments.
March Madness Handle: Beynon’s Predictions
Attesting to the popularity of the Match Madness tournament is the value it generates for sportsbooks. Last week, Chad Beynon, a Macquarie Securities gaming analyst, said the event’s first two rounds have likely generated 70% of the prior week’s overall betting handle.
The first four days of the event, Beynon noted, usually see the most betting activity because of the number of games. For reference, the two opening rounds of March Madness saw teams engage in a whopping 48 matches.
Usually, handle will decline in the later stages of the tournament as fewer teams continue competing. But the first two rounds, Beynon says, have likely generated sports betting handle of around $4.5 billion. This figure includes both traditional and parlay bets.
Meanwhile, Beynon believes that the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds will together represent 55% of sportsbooks’ weekly handle. The betting volume will likely wane further into the Final 4 and the Championship rounds, which Beynon estimates will contribute 40-50% to the weekly sports betting handle.
Beyton expects March Madness bets to form 30% of all sports betting volume in March and 10% of April’s sports betting handle.
He also talked about the hold percentage he estimates sportsbooks to record. He believes that the first two rounds will see operators hold around 7% of the handle. This number was impacted by certain unexpected events, such as Fairleigh Dickinson University dominating Purdue – the second time ever a 16-seed team has defeated a 1-seed team.
Beyton said that Macquarie Securities expects Q1 2023 market hold to be close to 8%. He added that most operators will likely achieve a hold 100-200bps below the market hold.