Why March Madness captures the imagination of the US public

At this year’s Betting on Football at Stamford Bridge, SBC caught up with Benjie Cherniak from Don Bestnow part of Scientific Games.

NCAA’s March Madness has always captured the attention and imagination of large portions of the US audience, which has only been amplified by the spread of legislated wagering across the country.

Cherniak told SBC: “It is embedded in the US culture in that when you go to university, and that university is one of the 68 teams participating in March Madness, it becomes something that you live with and you take with you for the rest of your life. Everyone supports their Alma Mater after their university days.

“Around the country it is so popular, it’s almost like a made-for-tv event, especially the first four days where there is round-the-clock NCAA basketball, and then you add to that of course the betting components which have become a part of the office pools, with of course legislated wagering in the US as well.”

March Madness has proven to be hugely successful over the years, often proving to create some of the “busiest weekends in the calendar” for operators.

Cherniak continued: “In the regular season, you have thousands of college basketball games. But in March Madness, every game has a lot of handle on it.

“In the regular season, you have some of these lower conference games where there is very little betting, and you are susceptible as an operator because one sharp punter can drive the activity in a negative direction for you as a bookmaker.

“Whereas during the tournament, every game is so high profile. But in some ways it makes it easier because you’re working with some liquidity and you’re not really at the mercy of any one individual or syndicate group of punters. So it’s a double-edged sword because you have a lot more handle but the liquidity can make it easier from an operator’s perspective.”

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