March Madness is one of the most popular sports events of the year for American bettors, where dozens of teams from the NCAA play games over an intensive month. There are plenty of shocks and surprises along the way, which is why sports fans love it so much.
That’s also why it’s perfect for bettors, and March Madness has started to dominate sportsbooks for the entire month. Sportsbooks have recently released numbers suggesting huge growth in betting handles between February and March 2022. Not only that, but most states have also grown by a considerable amount compared to the March Madness of 2021.
Despite these impressive numbers, college sports betting still remains an issue in many states. In some of the top betting states in the US, there are still restrictions placed on college wagering. The great betting handles collected over March, mainly fuelled by March Madness, may consider some states to change these regulations in the future.
Our experts take a look at some of the numbers behind the excellent March Madness betting handles to see what this means for US sports betting and college sports betting in the future.
State by State Performance
Pennsylvania showed steady growth in its betting handle for March, which was a 29.7% increase on the 2021 figures. The $667 million handle was also an increase compared to February by 19.5%. What is vital for the Keystone State is that March set a record for revenue. The $94.3million overtook the previous October 2021 record of $89.1 million.
Maryland is yet to launch its online sports betting, but retail sportsbooks still welcomed wagers on March Madness. Bettors wagered $31 million in March, a significant increase from the $25.5 million handled in February.
What’s particularly significant is that the sportsbooks operators’ hold increased massively. It was just 3.74% in February but rose to a healthy 12.7% during March. That’s significant for the state because a larger hold means greater revenue through tax. In addition, a more considerable hold will attract more sportsbook operators when online sports betting launches.
Illinois was a closely monitored market this year, with the introduction of unrestricted college sports betting and the removal of the need for in-person registration made recently. Experts expected the market to grow massively and were not disappointed by the astonishing 62% increase in betting handle on March Madness. The overall handle is yet to be released, but March 2021 was a record at its time.
As with every month in 2022, New York brought in the biggest betting handle for March 2022. A huge $1.64 billion passed through sportsbooks operators, which almost matched the record of $1.67 billion set in January. That was when there were five weekends of NFL, including the playoffs, which is the most popular wagering sport in the US. That makes this haul in March even more impressive.
New Jersey released numbers for its overall handle, which showed a nearly 30% growth to reach $1.1 billion. However, it also released numbers for just basketball betting, which brought in $667.3 million. That’s a 51% increase from March 2021.
Tennessee was one of the best-improving states in the US, with a $370 million betting handle marking a 79.8% increase on the March 2021 handle. That’s even though Tennessee does not allow prop bets on college athletes and no live prop bets. This goes against the trend shown by Illinois, which showed huge growth after removing restrictions on college sports betting.
Did New Jersey Miss Out?
Many experts see New Jersey as a benchmark of online sports betting performance. The state took the PASPA case to court, the state where the first US online sportsbook launched and has always had one of the biggest betting handles in the US. During March, that was no different when the Garden State brought in a $1.1 billion betting handle.
It’s hard to say the state missed out, but New Jersey has restrictions on betting that prohibit bettors from wagering on teams from within the state. Players also can wager on college events taking place in the state. There is a feeling more money could have been made than the $1.1 billion handle, considering a team from the state, St Peters, made an incredible run to the NCAA Elite Eight.
New Jersey has a new consideration this year, as New York legalized online sports betting in January 2022. The state also prohibits betting on in-state college teams and also prevents prop bets. That didn’t stop the Empire State from taking $1.64 in March.
New York has outperformed New Jersey in betting handle in 2022 by more than $1 billion, and the state also has a much higher tax rate of 51%. Could a growing neighboring market prompt New Jersey to reconsider its college sports betting laws? Despite adding it to the November ballot, it failed to do so in 2021. Perhaps St Peters’ run and the New York factor will tip the scales.