March Madness means big business for online gambling

John Paul Image
Thursday, March 21, 2024
March Madness means big business for online gambling
March Madness means big business for online gambling

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As March Madness tipped off Thursday, millions of people placed a wager on the games for the first time.

The American Gaming Association estimates 68 million Americans will wager $15.5 billion on the games this year. Three-quarters of those wagers will be from people who have never placed an online bet before.

"You're not trying to win a lot of money, you're trying to have a good time," said Tim Boyle, from Havertown.

He was watching the games at Xfinity Live on Thursday with his phone in his hand. He is relatively new to online gambling but decided to place a few bets on the games this year.

"I feel like it's more out in the open now. First of all, it's legal. It hasn't been legal, so now people can get into it. It's on their phone," said Boyle.

Online gambling has been growing in popularity since the Supreme Court struck down a ban on commercial gambling in 2018.

Nationwide in 2023, $323 billion was wagered on sports. New Jersey residents bet the most money on sports. Pennsylvania residents came in fifth.

However, the rise in online gambling does come at a cost.

Calls to the gambling hotline are increasing in Pennsylvania.

In 2023, 2,693 people called for help. That is a 3% increase from the year before.

But when it comes to online chats and texts for help to the hotline, that is up 51%. Two-thirds of those calls for help were prompted by financial problems.

Mark Rogers doesn't gamble. He sees it as a big problem, especially for the younger generations.

"They really need to watch every dollar and not lose the bucks where they don't need to be," said Rogers.