March Madness bettors in Nevada lost nearly $45 million, which was less than 2022

March Madness has become a huge event on the sports betting calendar. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
March Madness has become a huge event on the sports betting calendar. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

The unpredictability of the 2023 NCAA men's basketball tournament didn't really help bettors.

This won't surprise you, but the house won during March Madness. In the Nevada Gaming Control Board's monthly report, it was noted that sportsbooks won $44.865 million on basketball bets in March. Las Vegas is annually a big destination for bettors during the first week of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

This March a lot of sports bettors left plenty of money in Las Vegas when they went home, though that always happens. The house always wins.

At least in 2023 bettors did a little better, in terms of how much they lost on those hoops bets.

Bettors lose big in March Madness

There's no need to sugarcoat it: The 2022 NCAA tournament was simply awful for bettors. Last year, bettors in Nevada lost $47.958 million on basketball in March. It was a 14.3% increase for sportsbooks from 2021. The Nevada Gaming Control Board doesn't separate basketball bets into college and pro, but most of the March handle is on the college game due to the NCAA tournament. And it was an awful 2022 tournament for bettors.

This year bettors didn't lose that much, though it's hard to celebrate a $44.9 million loss.

The biggest reason was the volume was down. The win percentage for the house was 6.84% in 2023, compared to 6.74% from 2022. So it's not like bettors got sharper since 2022. Basketball crowds were down, in part due to a large construction trade convention the same week that the NCAA tournament begins.

Even with fewer bets, the house made a small fortune. Go figure. Nevada casinos won $1.312 billion overall in March, the sixth-highest amount ever according to News 8 in Las Vegas.

An odd NCAA tournament for bettors

It was a strange NCAA tournament. A No. 1 seed lost in the first round for the second time ever. A No. 2 seed went down in the first round as well. There wasn't a single No. 1 seed in the Elite Eight for the first time since the tournament expanded in 1985.

The first weekend was wacky. Unders went 27-9 in the First Four and the first round, according to OddsShark. Casual bettors usually like to bet favorites and overs, and that's a big reason Nevada sportsbooks collected almost $45 million off hoops bets in March.

Sportsbooks actually won just $43.851 million in March. A reason for the difference between the basketball win and the overall win was that bettors "won" $13.393 million on football bets in March. That comes from the large amount of bettors who travel to Las Vegas for March Madness and cash in winning NFL and college football futures.

Next year's NCAA tournament will be unpredictable as well. But the best bet is this: The house will end up winning. A lot.