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March Madness: How the Landscape has changed since 2019

Dominick De Falco takes a look at March Madness and how the sports landscape has changed in the last couple of years following the PASPA-repeal and COVID-19.

The NCAA Men’s March Madness tournament is finally back after a year’s absence! Like so many other sports events in 2020, last years’ March Madness was canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many athletes, organizations, and universities suffered tremendously from these cancellations, and the sports industry is now hoping for a major bounceback in 2021 and onward.

Although sports have been put on pause for most of the Pandemic, a lot has happened in the world of sports betting during this time of hiatus. With regard to March Madness specifically, how people are now placing bets and how much more convenient sports betting has become for the average bettor, will likely have an effect on the betting action during the 2021 edition of March Madness.

How betting has changed since 2019

Since the last tournament in 2019, retail sports betting has fallen 8%. This comes as no surprise considering the upsets and the sheer improbability of completing the coveted ‘perfect bracket.’

In its place, online betting has become one of the more prevalent ways for bettors to win. Companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel have grown their market and established themselves as major platforms for sports fans to compete for prizes.

Upwards of 47 million Americans will place bets on the 2021 March Madness tournament, a significant jump from 2019. One important fact to note is that 13 more states have legalized online gambling since 2019, and I am sure this will contribute to what we see for March Madness this year.

Coronavirus impact

Now that March has rolled around, the anticipation for the tournament has been higher than ever before. March Madness had never been canceled before, so the 2019-2020 campaign will be remembered for reasons other than big upsets or buzzer beaters. The NCAA had difficulties supporting its athletes from the cancellation because their revenue dropped to less than half of what was expected.

Additionally, the universities involved in the tournament lost out on profiting by not being able to compete. Even more importantly, the exposure that March Madness provides was a big kicker for schools across the country, especially for those that celebrate just qualifying for the tournament, let alone competing. 

Expectations for 2021

We can expect big things from March Madness this year. Sports betting could possibly be the highest ever recorded for the tournament when all is said and done, and online betting will make its mark on March Madness. The stakes will be high, and so will the expectations of fans from each and every team.

No matter the result, it is certain that things are trending in the right direction for teams and fans in future sports tournaments. The coronavirus madness has finally been limited, but March Madness has only just begun.

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