March Madness betting: Nevada, other states, report enormous betting handles and revenue in March

Frank Schwab
·3 min read

The timing of the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament was perfect was Nevada. Restrictions were being lifted with vaccinations being rolled out. Many bettors were ready to get back to normalcy, which included a trip for one of the marquee sporting events of the year. 

And Nevada did a near-record handle when it came to sports betting. 

More than $500 million was bet on basketball in March, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board report. Nevada sportsbooks won $41.8 million on basketball in March. 

That's a 608 percent difference from last March, for obvious reasons. March Madness was a great event for casinos that had a down 2020 during the pandemic, and perhaps the first steps toward a complete rebound. 

Nevada had a near record March

Overall, $640.8 million was bet on sports in Nevada this past March, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Of that total, $501.5 million was on basketball. Sportsbooks actually took an $8.4 million loss on football, but that was due to futures bets from the 2020-21 season being cashed by bettors in town for March Madness. 

The $640.8 million bet on sports is the third-highest handle in Nevada since at least 1992, trailing only October of 2020, which did $659.2 million, and January of 2021 with $646.7 million according to USBets.com

While the handle was massive, the amount won by the sportsbooks didn't set records. The sportsbooks won $39.3 million in March, with those football tickets cutting into the profits a bit. The largest win ever for Nevada sportsbooks in a month was $61.8 million last November. Since then, sportsbooks won $52.4 million in January and $40.6 million last December. 

Still, more than $39 million in revenue is a pretty busy month. 

March Madness was a popular event for bettors. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
March Madness was a popular event for bettors. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

Other states did well in March

Other states reported big revenues in March. Tennessee took in more than $200 million in bets, barely missing setting a record. Pennsylvania took in $560.3 million in sports bets with $29.3 million in revenue. Indiana, which hosted the entire NCAA tournament, took in $316.7 million in bets. New Jersey took in $859.6 million in sports bets, the biggest non-football month ever for the state. That's just a few of the states that did very well during March Madness. 

BetMGM said it had a record March Madness in terms of handle across both retail and digital platforms. Overall, MGM properties in Nevada were pleased with the uptick in visitation during March. 

The tournament was a wild one, with many big upsets and a surprisingly lopsided loss for heavily-favored Gonzaga in the championship game against Baylor. Bettors across the country were ready to take some action on the tournament after missing it in 2020. Sportsbooks had to be pleased with the results. 

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