Are you betting big? March Madness wagers expected to be record breaking

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 8:14 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 9:43 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - March Madness is taking center stage as the best college basketball teams in the nation face off in the NCAA Tournament.

New data from the American Gaming Association shows Americans are expected to bet big during this year’s basketball tournaments.

The numbers show 31 million Americans plan to place a traditional sports bet, either online or at a retail sportsbook. 21.5 million plan to place casual bets with their friends and 56.3 million plan to fill out a tournament bracket.

According to Max Hartgraves with the Arizona Department of Gaming, thousands of Arizonans are gearing up to make big bets on their favorite college basketball teams bringing in never before seen numbers.

“Arizona has gotten off to a really hot start,” Hartgraves said. “We constantly rank in the top 10 nationally in terms of total handle or total wager placed and I expect to continue to see that trend.”

“Approximately 68 million Americans are going to wager on March Madness this year, which is a record,” Hartgraves said. “A pretty significant record compared to the previous year.”

Those 68 million Americans are expected to bet more than $15 billion throughout the three-week event.

It’s estimated that 18 million more Americans plan to gamble during March Madness than for the Super Bowl, leading to a record-breaking 2023.

“Last March for example, in 2022 we saw $690 million wagered into our state,” Hartgraves said, “which is our record thus far. So I am excited to see if 2023 surpasses that.”

So what happens to all that money here in Arizona?

All fees collected from sports betting go to the state’s general fund. Which is used to support more than 60 agencies across Arizona, with the department of education receiving the biggest share.

With the recent Super Bowl and March Madness, Hartgraves expects this year will be a big one.

“We tend to see higher levels of wagering throughout winter and spring because there are more popular sports to wager on things like NFL and March Madness,” Hartgraves said. “Which is probably the most popular event for wagering throughout the U.S.”

Hartgraves adds if you are going to bet, it’s important to gamble responsibly.

“The best way is to make sure you are using the state’s legal licensed operator because you know as a consumer you are protected,” Hartgraves said.

This month is not only March Madness but it’s also recognized in Arizona as “Problem Gambling Awareness Month.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, Hartgraves says there are resources for help in Arizona.

You can call 1-800-next-step, text “next step” to 53342, or visit