March Madness was very good to Las Vegas this year. Gambling on college basketball propelled Nevada sports books to its best March ever. According to an ESPN report, Vegas had a record-breaking March fueled by the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
A record $439.5 million was wagered on basketball, both college and professional, last month, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
The books kept a record $41.2 million of the amount bet on basketball, shattering the previous mark set in March 2015 by more than $13 million and making March 2017 by far the most lucrative basketball month ever for the house.
Though the book does not differentiate between pro and college sports betting, the NCAA Tournament was clearly a huge factor in the action happening in the desert this year. Bookmakers say college betting accounts for anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of the wagers seen in March. That’s a ton of action from the tournament, which had yet to even crown North Carolina its champion before the month ended.
That means there’s huge amounts of betting on two long weekends that make Vegas even more of a destination for tourists and gamblers looking for a bit of early spring excitement. The profits from the NCAA Tournament even helped take a bite out of any leftover winning tickets patrons had yet to cash until March.
The massive March haul comes after a rough stretch to end the football season for the books. In January, the books suffered one of their worst football months ever, losing $8.25 million to bettors.
They bounced back in a big way in March, winning $31.4 million overall, a 225.3 percent increase from March 2016. Leftover football bets from the season that were cashed in March took a $13 million bite out of the basketball profits, but the books had enough to spare.
No word in the report how Brent Musburger‘s move to Vegas to give gambling advice will impact the sports book, but I’d guess they get a bit more desperate action out of college sports fans come fall.