NCAA tournament betting now bigger than Super Bowl

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March Madness is bigger than Super Bowl Sunday. At least for Las Vegas.

The NCAA tournament is now the biggest sports betting event of the year, gambling experts told USA Today. That shouldn’t be a huge surprise, though. The Big Dance is 67 games.

Still, the first Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday can have up to $100 million bet on it, says LVH Race and Sports Superbook manager Jay Kornegay. The number of bets were up 40 percent from last year’s opening games.

From the story:

Nevada doesn’t break out NCAA basketball betting vs. NBA betting. But the state’s legalized sports books typically see a $100 million jump in total basketball betting every March, Streshley says.

In 2011, gamblers wagered $256.6 million on college/pro basketball in March vs. $114.3 million in February. With the Big Dance wrapped over by early April, the basketball handle for that month then dropped back to $78.2 million.

The same pattern was seen in 2010. The basketball handle jumped from $129.7 million in February to a record $263.8 million in March, then back to $82.6 million in April.

That’s nothing compared to the total amount wagered, though. The story estimates $12 billion total will be wagered on the 2012 NCAA tournament when offshore sports books, bookies and office pools are included.

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