March 23, 2023 2 min read


March Madness to See $4.5B Wagered Says Macquarie

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is in full swing, and it’s expected to generate a fair bit of interest amongst bettors

In fact, some $4.5 billion will be going down on regulated gambling markets across North America. The assessment was made by Macquarie analyst Chad Beynon who took a look at sports betting handle in the country and what drove results over the past few days.

Big Handle Goes Down on Specific Rounds

The first two rounds of the tournament colloquially known as March Madness were responsible for 70% of the sports wagering handle last week, he said. The Sweet 16 games are also usually the biggest contributors when it comes to the amount wagered on the event.

Beynon explained that the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games, a total of 12 games, contribute around 55% of the total amount bet on the sport. Then again, the Final Four and Championship tend to generate between 40% and 50% of the total handle, with the betting action clearly focusing on the beginning and end of the event for the most part.

The analyst claimed that 30% of the total amount bet in legal markets in the United States would be driven by the tournament in March. The number would fall off to 10% of the total betting handle in April, when the tournament is wrapping up with the Championship game on April 3.

Macquarie also took note of how much money the sportsbooks were able to retain – that is the money not paid out as winning wagers. According to the analyst, the hold rate is 7% in the first two rounds of the event. Beynon argued that bettors’ obsession with betting on “totals” was a good way for operators to retain a bigger amount of money.

Bettors Tempted by “Over” to End Up with “Under”

He explained that 67% of the games went “under” which effectively means that sportsbooks managed to pull ahead on bettors who mostly stuck with the “over” choice of the two. Macquarie’s target is a bit of a far cry from what the American Gaming Association has said the total betting handle on March Madness would be.

According to the trade group, people of the legal gambling age in the United States are expected to bet a total of $15.5 billion on the outcome of March Madness games.


Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.

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