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Super Bowl betting handle no match for March Madness

The first Super Bowl played in Las Vegas set a Nevada record for betting handle, or amount of money wagered on the game, at $185.6 million.

Based on recent history, the NCAA Tournament, which features 67 games, will obliterate that mark.

The state’s Gaming Control Board doesn’t break out the tournament from the total basketball betting handle for March. But it estimates that 70 percent of the amount of money wagered is generated from men’s NCAA Tournament games.

The NCAA Tournament handle last year was estimated at $459 million, which almost tripled the 2023 Super Bowl handle ($153.2 million).

The March Madness handle was more than 2½ times as much as the Super Bowl in 2022 ($496 million to $179.8 million) and 2021 ($351 million to $136.1 million).

The majority of action on the tournament pours in on the first weekend, which features 48 games in the first four days.

“You’ve got the volume of games, and it’s massive for in-play wagering as well,” Caesars Sportsbook vice president of trading Craig Mucklow said.

The Super Bowl still brings the biggest bets, with five of the eight $1 million wagers reported on the game nationwide placed in Las Vegas.

“We will take more money on the tournament than we do on the Super Bowl, which is just one big day,” MGM Resorts director of trading Lamarr Mitchell said. “But the bets are a lot smaller. No one is asking us for a seven-figure bet on college basketball. We’ll get some decent-sized six-figure bets.”

Houston furniture store owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale is the exception to that rule. He wagered $1 million to win $7.5 million at Caesars on Houston to win the title. The bet is the latest in a series of seven-figure wagers by McIngvale to reduce risk on promotions at his Gallery Furniture stores.

The American Gaming Association estimates that $2.72 billion will be legally wagered at American sportsbooks on the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments. That is almost twice as much as the $1.5 billion the AGA estimated was bet on the Super Bowl.

“I know it’s fun to go to one of these games,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “But to sit in a sportsbook with a hundred of your best friends hooting and hollering, especially when a Cinderella knocks off one of the big boys, there’s no better atmosphere to be in than one of our sportsbooks.”

Last Man Standing

The Last Man Standing elimination college basketball contest is back at Station Casinos. Entries for the winner-take-all competition cost $25 each (a maximum of five for $100), with an aggregate $50,000 grand prize.

Bettors pick one game against the spread each day of the men’s NCAA Tournament, 10 days in all (Thursday through Sunday; March 28 to 31, April 6 and April 8). Each entry is eliminated with an incorrect pick.

Entrants must register in person at Station Casinos locations by 6 p.m. Thursday. All of the entry fees will be returned as prize money. If more than one contestant makes 10 correct picks, or all remaining contestants are eliminated on the same contest day, the prize money will be split equally among all tied contestants.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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