Here’s How Much Americans Are Betting on March Madness Basketball
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Here’s How Much Americans Are Betting on March Madness Basketball

REUTER/Dave Kaup

Americans will bet more than $9.2 billion on March Madness office pools this year, up from $9 billion last year. That’s more than twice the $4.2 billion wagered on the Super Bowl.

The average American completes nearly two brackets and bets an average of $29 on each one. But it’s largely an exercise in futility: The odds of picking a perfect NCAA bracket are less than one in 9.2 quintillion, according to DePaul University mathematics professor Jeff Bergen.

Related: The 16 Highest-Paid Coaches in College Basketball

The American Gaming Association predicts that Americans will complete more than 70 million brackets in 2016.

There’s a lot of non-gambling money involved in the tournament as well. The cheapest price for a ticket to a March Madness game is at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena during the round of 32, when the average ticket cost is $112. During the Final Four games at NRG Stadium in Houston, prices spike to an average of $1,052, according to TiqIQ.

Final Four host Houston will see an economic impact of $300 million, according to a WalletHub report, with the average visitor spending $2,100 while there. The advertising rights for the tournament are worth $1.1 billion.

Nearly 40 percent of office workers say they are distracted at work by major sporting events, according to a Robert Half survey. The staffing firm attributed that distraction to the ability of today’s workers to stream games at any time. Companies are projected to lose nearly $2 billion in worker productivity during the tournament.

If you do manage to win some money in a March Madness betting pool, keep in mind that the winnings are taxable.  See IRS publication 525 for all the painful details. 

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