March Madness in Las Vegas felt normal again. Bettors flocked to parties to watch NCAA men's basketball tournament games, without mask restrictions or the entire tournament being played in a bubble due to COVID-19.
Bettors losing a lot of money on March Madness isn't unusual. But the house won at an abnormal clip.
According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board's report, sportsbooks won $47.958 million on basketball in March. The report doesn't separate NBA bets from college basketball bets, but it's fair to assume that most of that nearly $48 million came from March Madness, one of the biggest sports betting events of the year.
That's a huge loss for bettors, much bigger than 2021.
Nevada has a huge March
In 2021 Nevada had a huge March in terms of basketball bets. Nevada sportsbooks won $41.8 million on basketball in March last year. This March was even bigger, about a 14.7 percent increase in winnings for the house.
In March of 2019 Nevada sportsbooks won about $35.2 million on basketball. That was the last NCAA tournament before COVID-19 hit.
Overall Nevada sportsbooks reported a win of about $36.9 million last month. The profits were cut because more than $17 million in football future bets were cashed in March, likely in large part from tourists coming to Las Vegas for March Madness festivities.
Hopefully bettors had fun in Las Vegas during that magical week in March, because most of them didn't win money.
Why was March Madness so good for the house?
There were a few reasons why sportsbooks won at a much higher rate than a year ago. First off, more people came back to Las Vegas as COVID restrictions lessened and life was back to normal. More people meant more bets.
Also, the tournament was simply a good one for the sportsbooks. Casual bettors — which makes up a big part of the group that wagers on the NCAA tournament — like to bet overs and there were a bunch of unders that hit during the tournament. That was good for sportsbooks. Some of the underdogs that covered, like St. Peter's beating Kentucky and St. Mary's over Indiana, were big outcomes for the house. Gonzaga losing in the second weekend of the tournament was good for the future bet liabilities at BetMGM.
Everything kept coming up in favor of the house, and against bettors. But bettors will return next year, hoping to lose less than $49 million.