MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A growing number of sports fans plan to try their luck by betting on March Madness.
An increase in people gambling is attributed to more states, like those in the Mid-South, having legalized sports betting.
March Madness is one of the biggest sport events of the year, and has grown from just filling out brackets to becoming one of the busiest times for sports betting, especially at Southland Casino Hotel in West Memphis, Arkansas.
“My expectations for March Madness, there’s going to be a lot of play, a lot of folks who are going to come here and bet with their heart. Memphis, Tennessee, Arkansas, here at Southland,” said Mark Pendgraft, who works at the casino.
Sports betting is big business. The American Gaming Association expects more than $15 billion in bets to be placed. That’s just slightly less than the $16 billion wagered on the Super Bowl.
“I see a lot of folks betting easily at Southland on the retail or mobile on the app. Just pick your favorite teams and who you think will win. Make that selection. It’s that easy,” Pendgraft said.
In Arkansas, sports betting can be played in the state’s three casinos and online, and the Natural State is expecting big numbers.
“I can only imagine this year that number is going to be three, four, five, six times that. Again, you go from a very limited number of people to anyone in the state,” said Scott Hardin with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
Mobile and online sports betting is now legal in Tennessee. It’s become a multi-billion dollar booming business for the state’s economy. In 2022, $3.8 billion were wagered in sports betting. That’s up 41% from 2021.
“Sports betting is really something that requires a lot of interest in who’s playing, what’s happening and studying. Most people play with that. They want to know what all is happening,” said Mary Beth Thomas with the Tennessee Sports Wagering Advisory Council.
In Mississippi, sports betting is also legal. But you must be on casino property in order to place bets, which is why some say revenues declined compared to other states.
If you or someone you know has a gambling addiction, you can always reach out for help at the Gambling Clinic on the University of Memphis campus.