(The Center Square) – New Hampshire Lottery officials expect more than $15 million on wagers to be placed for March Madness this month, making it the largest sports betting event of the year.
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament ramps up this week with first-round games today and so far 188,000 wagers, totaling more than $20 million, have been placed. Lottery officials expect the games to generate a record amount of revenue for the state.
Charlie McIntyre, the Lottery's executive director, said wagering on the yearly competition is "the biggest sports betting driver" and expects this year to be no different.
"The tournament is a tremendous opportunity to make a major impact on our ongoing efforts to maximize revenue for New Hampshire schools," he said in a statement. "Whether you are a new or current player, the tournament is the perfect time to explore the world of sports betting, and there’s still time to get in on the action before games get underway."
New Hampshire is one of several states that have legalized wagers on professional sports after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a federal law barring sports gambling in nearly all states except Nevada, paving the way for wagers on games.
The state launched sports betting in December 2019 after signing a contract with DraftKings to operate the wagering platforms. Since then, more than $1 billion in wagers have been placed, according to the Lottery. More than 10 million wagers were placed in the previous fiscal year, totalling $508 million, the Lottery said.
That includes bets placed through DraftKings online sportsbook, and the sportsbooks in Seabrook and Manchester. The Lottery recently added another retail sportsbook operation in Dover with DraftKings and Manchester-based Filotimo Casino & Restaurant, which will host the new establishment.
Last year, New Hampshire players wagered more than $15.1 million on the tournament. Another large sports betting event, the Super Bowl clash between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, generated $7.1 million in wagers, the Lottery said.
Johnny Avello, director of operations at DraftKings, said he expects "non-stop betting action" Thursday through Sunday this week as the basketball tournament gets underway.
“With the tournament fully back to normal this year for the first time since 2019, we expect this to be the biggest tournament we’ve ever had and quite possibly the biggest event we’ve ever had," he said in a statement.
New Hampshire's lottery system raked in cash during the pandemic, generating a record $518.5 million in total sales in the previous fiscal year, according to a recent Lottery report.
The increased lottery profits bodes well for the state's public education system, which gets a portion of the revenue from sales. In the 2020 fiscal year, the state contributed nearly $100 education from lottery proceeds.