Business News

Las Vegas bookies expect big money from March Madness

March Madness business exceeds Super Bowl: Avello

March Madness has officially begun, and may the odds be in your NCAA bracket's favor.

The NCAA tournament spans three weeks, giving gamblers plenty of time to cast their bets and watch their favorite teams fight to the finish. This month's basketball business brings in more than double the money — from gambling — than that of Super Bowl Sunday, Johnny Avello, the director of Race & Sports Operations at Wynn Las Vegas, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Thursday.

Between $200 million and $225 million should be placed in bets in Nevada alone throughout the NCAA basketball tournament this year, Avello said. This is up about 5 percent from last year and is up 15 percent from the year prior to that.

As it stood about 11 months ago, Duke was slated to be the 2017 tournament's "betting favorite," but that title now falls to the North Carolina Tar Heels, with the Blue Devils a close second, Avello said.

Who has the best odds to win March Madness?

North Carolina Tar Heels @ 5/1
Villanova Wildcats @ 6/1
Kansas Jayhawks @ 6/1
Duke Blue Devils @ 13/2
Kentucky Wildcats @ 8/1

For anyone trying to spot correlation between the positive stock market movement of late and more money being placed in bets in Vegas, Avello told CNBC you won't find it.

However, the Trump administration could turn out to be a good bet for the gambling industry, he said.

"I don't know if [President Donald Trump] has anything to do with it," Avello said, but he sees a "push" from the American Gaming Association to put sports gambling on the "forefront" of the agenda, when it comes to legalizing gambling.

Nevada — and Las Vegas in particular — has long been the center of gambling in the U.S. Accordingly, Nevada and Louisiana are the only two states in which casino-style gambling is legal statewide.

Wynn's Avello said he thinks within the next few years, more doors will be open to the industry, and as a result he isn't afraid of Nevada losing any market share. "There will be opportunities for others in other areas," he added.

For now, if you're looking to take a bigger risk with your money during this March Madness season, Avello would suggest considering an "underdog" team like Notre Dame or Southern Methodist University.

But when it comes down to the Final Four, you're typically always going to see those 1-, 2- and 3-seeded teams, he said, like a North Carolina or Kansas.

Disclosure: Lauren Thomas is an avid basketball fan and recent graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Read more on how to bet on this year's tournament without going broke.