Projection: March Madness To Fuel Nearly $800M In March Betting Handle In PA

Written By Corey Sharp on March 14, 2024
Photo showing a basketball with the words

March Madness is one of the premier sporting events during the calendar year. It’s even more lucrative than the Super Bowl because it’s a multi-week-long event. March Madness betting in Pennsylvania is projected to drive handle totals to around $800 million this month.

There are several factors suggesting that this could be the best month of March ever, in terms of betting handle, for Keystone State operators.

NCAA Tournament could help generate about $800 million in March bets

March isn’t exactly as powerful as October and November, with NFL and college football driving much of the betting. However, March Madness has made this month incredibly strong for PA online sportsbooks. Over the last three years, Pennsylvania has produced the following March handles:

  • 2021: $560.3 million
  • 2022: $715 million
  • 2023: $723.5 million

This March, Pennsylvania sportsbooks are projected to bring in around $800 million in total bets.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has not released February revenue as of yet. However, PlayPennsylvania is projecting the February handle to be near $673.7 million, based on an average decrease of 21.5% from January handle over the last three years.

March’s handle has increased from February by an average of 16.8% over that same time period. That percentage jump from $673.7 million for February would bring March to $786.9 million in total handle.

The state could receive a boost in betting action should a Pennsylvania team make the tournament. Last year, Pittsburgh and Penn State won a combined three games during March Madness.

This year, the Nittany Lions are not making the tournament and it’s unlikely the Panthers do, either. Villanova, which is squarely on the bubble, could be the only Pennsylvania representative in the Big Dance this year.

Pennsylvania slated to rank 6th in US in March Madness betting this year

The Straight To The Point newsletter, written by Steven Ruddock, is reporting that Pennsylvania will project sixth in March Madness handle this year, according to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. It’s set to finish behind the following states:

  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Illinois
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada

Ordinarily, Pennsylvania would have been the fifth market on this list had North Carolina not launched online sports betting earlier this month. The Tar Heel State is expecting deep runs from blue bloods such as Duke and North Carolina.

Eilers & Krejcik Gaming is reporting that 40% of the total March Madness handle will be in the form of live bets. The newsletter said:

“Basketball attracts more live wagering than the NFL, for example, because it is more flowing and each score is less impactful to the final outcome, so operators can afford to keep lines up for longer without being ‘picked off.’”

Pennsylvania hosting first and second-round NCAA Tournament games, could boost handle

The addition of Pennsylvania teams participating in March Madness could easily entice more fans to bet. Even if no Pennsylvania team makes the tournament, the state is hosting several games this year.

PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh is home to first and second-round games on March 21 and 23. The venue is hosting a total of four games during the first round and two in the second round.

There are going to be plenty of bettors from out of state planning to bet on their favorite teams in Pittsburgh.

It’s also possible that BetRivers Sportsbook PA sees an increase in handle during the month. PPG Paints Arena is home to the BetRivers Lounge, which has signage throughout the stadium.

BetRivers told PlayPennsylvania that the lounge does not have betting kiosks inside the arena and also does not have special plans for the weekend. However, the marketing throughout the stadium could attract more people to wager with BetRivers.

Photo by Michael Caterina / AP
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayPennsylvania bringing you comprehensive coverage of sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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