By Steve Kelly

An estimated 47 million Americans are expected to bet $8.5 billion during this March Madness with 149 million brackets accounting for the major chunk of the wagering, according to the American Gaming Association.

Of all those bets, 29 percent of the survey’s respondents favored Duke to win it all – more than triple the second-most favored team (Gonzaga at 9 percent).

“They are in the national championship mix every year,” Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill U.S., told USA TODAY Sports. “Under Coach K, they have been the New England Patriots of college basketball. Like the sun coming up in the morning, you can rely on Duke money.”

Bill Miller, AGA’s president and chief executive officer, said that about 40 percent more money will be bet over the course of March Madness than was wagered on this year’s Super Bowl. This is the first men’s basketball tournament since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the federal law essentially limited sports betting to Nevada for 25 years.

“Before the PASPA Supreme Court decision, there were very limited opportunities to wager legally,” Miller told USA TODAY Sports. “Those opportunities are increasing and that’s a good thing. As more people become aware there is a legal method to wager, I think the interest in sports betting will only get larger.”

Brackets ($4.6 billion) will account for much of the money wagered, according the online survey of 11,002 adults conducted earlier this month by Morning Consult on the behalf of the AGA.

The survey found that 28 percent of adults in Kentucky are expected to fill out at least one bracket with Kansas (25 percent) and Utah (24 percent) rounding out the top three. Mississippi is expected to have the lowest bracket participation at 11 percent.

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