Las Vegas to host Elite 8 March Madness game Saturday as 68M Americans place wagers

This March Madness will mark the first time Las Vegas will host a tournament game

Sixty-eight million Americans are expected to place bets on March Madness games when it’s all said and done, the American Gaming Association reports.

That’s 18 million more people betting than last month’s Super Bowl.

Saturday kicks off the Elite Eight, and one of the men’s tournament games, between Gonzaga University and the University of Connecticut, will take place in Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the United States.


"March Madness is always one of the two biggest sports betting events of the year," said Casey Clark, American Gaming Association senior vice president. "American adults will bet as much as $15.5 billion throughout the course of this year's tournament."

Sports bettor counts money during March Madness

A sports bettor counts his money in Las Vegas during March Madness. This is the first year the city is hosting an NCAA tournament game. (Fox News / Fox News)

The AGA reports more than 56 million plan to participate in a bracket contest, 21.5 million plan to bet casually with friends and 31 million plan to place a traditional sports wager.

Many are betting for the first time this year.

"Sports betting is the ultimate engagement factor for a sporting event. We've known it for a long time here in Las Vegas, but now the rest of the world gets to see it," Clark said.

More states have legalized sports betting in recent years, including 36 states and Washington, DC.

sports betting map

Sports betting is legal in 36 states and Washington, D.c. as of March 2023. Five years ago, the industry was only legal in Nevada. (FOX News)


Compared to this year’s estimated 68 million, about 45 million wagered on last year’s March Madness tournament, according to the American Gaming Association, totaling just $3.1 billion.

There are plenty of in-person options for those wanting the traditional Vegas betting experience.

The Sahara Las Vegas draws fans in with its sports book dining experience at Chickie’s and Pete’s.

"There aren't many sports books in the United States where you can get a Philly cheese steak or lobster roll, world-famous cat crab fries," said Andrew Patterson, vice president with SaharaBets.

Kentucky Oscar Tshiebwe

Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe (34) celebrates late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Auburn in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. Tshiebwe was named to the AP All-SEC team in voting released Tuesday, March 7, 2023. (AP Photo/James Crisp, File / AP Newsroom)

The William Hill Sports Book at Sahara Las Vegas also features a 10,000 square foot LED screen by its Azilo Ultra Pool and Lounge.


"When you have money on a game, you're going to be a little bit more engaged in it and want to watch a little bit longer," Patterson said. "Sports betting is the ultimate engagement factor for a sporting event. We've known it for a long time here in Las Vegas, but now the rest of the world gets to see it."

Sports bettors and fans can also look forward to Las Vegas hosting the Super Bowl LVIII and the Formula 1 Grand Prix next year. The Oakland Athletics MLB team is expected to relocate there, and LeBron James has even announced his desire to bring an NBA team to Sin City.