Rebounding off of Dave Wilson’s post yesterday on who participates in NCAA tournament bracket games, it may also be important to take note of how much our nation spends on these gambling pools.

Spending on bracket gambling has jumped three-fold from $2.5 billion in 2008 to an estimated $9 billion in 2015. This is despite the NCAA’s most earnest attempts to “oppose all forms of sports wagering.”

To put that in perspective, the total cost of the 2012 presidential election campaign was less than $3 billion. After adding special interest and outside group expenditures, the total ($7 billion) still doesn’t get close to the amount Americans spend gambling on brackets. And this occurs annually over a maximum of four days, not over a two year cycle.

Bracket chart


Significantly more money will be spent on tolerated, but illegal bracket gambling than spent on a legal, but not tolerated presidential election. Begging the question: Is there McCain-Feingold bracket reform in the future?

Gambling on March Madness brackets has managed to outstrip campaign spending even without the benefit of campaign finance “reform” or the help of the Supreme Court. Of course, between presidential elections and March Madness, one of these is important and the other elects the leader of the free world.

Public Opinion Strategies