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US bettors are set to wager $2.68bn on this month’s NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, according to estimates from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG).

The event is one of the most significant in the calendar for the US sports betting sector, as it sees 67 games played over just 18 days and attracts large betting volumes in the process.

Around 35-40% of the total betting handle is expected to be placed in-play, EKG estimated, which would represent an increase of around five percentage points on March Madness 2023.

EKG noted that the figure is relatively high for a US sport, explaining that basketball attracts more live wagering than other American sport due to the flowing nature of the game and because “each score is less impactful to the final outcome,” for example compared to American football, “so operators can afford to keep lines up for longer without being ‘picked off’.”

On the other hand, the proportion of betting handle expected to come from same-game parlays (SGPs) is just 5%, with EKG noting that basketball “lends itself less to SGPs than football.”

In the NFL’s Super Bowl earlier this year, for example, SGPs accounted for an estimated 25% of betting handle.

EKG said this was due to bettors having less “institutional knowledge” about individual teams and players in basketball, while “bettors are also more likely to build traditional (i.e., non-SGP) parlays with so many games running.”

March Madness vs. Super Bowl

By way of comparison, EKG estimated that around $1.5bn was bet on the Super Bowl earlier this year.

The larger anticipated betting volume is due to the sheer volume of games which make up the March Madness tournament, while yesterday’s (11 March) launch of regulated sports betting North Carolina is also expected to have a positive impact on betting handle.

EKG estimates that more than 8% of betting volume will come from the newly launched state, “thanks to the glut of promo money” expected to be offered to customers, alongside North Carolina’s “highly-ranked men’s teams and its hosting status for early round games.”


EKG also provided a breakdown of how much betting handle it expects each regulated US sports betting state to generate.

Leading the way by some distance is New York, antitpicated to generate $391.2m in betting handle, or a nationwide share of almost 15%.

In second and third positions respectively, New Jersey and Illinois are expected to generate $311.7m (11.6% of nationwide share) and $279.5m (10.4%).

Bettors in newly launched North Carolina are expected to wager some $221m on March Madness, which would make the state the fourth largest by betting handle on the tournament.

In fifth, bettors in Nevada are estimated to wager $198.6m, with Pennsylvania in sixth with $166.6m and Massachusetts in seventh with $140.1m.

Just two other states, Ohio and Arizona, are expected to generate betting handle of more than $100m, or around 4% of nationwide share.

Further down the list, the smallest 10 states by betting handle are each expected to generate handle of under $10m, each representing well under 0.4% of nationwide handle.

Photo credit: Maggie Hobson/University of North Carolina Athletics

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