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Economy down, betting up: NCAA bettors put faith in brackets

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Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson dunks past Mississippi defenders, including Deaundre Cranston (52) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference men’s tournament Thursday, March 12, 2009, in Tampa, Fla.
Photo: Mike Carlson / AP Photo

Times are tough. Everyone’s feeling the pinch. But not college basketball bettors this tournament season, according to a recent MSN.com survey.

According to the American Gaming Association, the FBI estimates that Americans wager more than $2.5 billion on college basketball bracket pools and this year seems to be no different. An MSN Hoops Hysteria Survey conducted last month showed 45 percent of Americans plan to enter at least one college basketball tournament pool and more than 20 percent plan to enter three or more.

Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn (24) goes for the basket against Kansas in the second half during an NCAA college basketball game at the Big 12 Conference men's tournament in Oklahoma City, Thursday, March 12, 2009.

Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn (24) goes for the basket against Kansas in the second half during an NCAA college basketball game at the Big 12 Conference men's tournament in Oklahoma City, Thursday, March 12, 2009.

Those numbers are up from last year, according to the survey. When asked how many pools respondents entered last year, 43 percent said they entered at least one.

More than half of those entering betting pools are planning to spend at least $20. Twenty-two percent had more faith in their wager than their 401k.

Fans of the Western Athletic Conference are forking over even more money, with 36 percent of fans planning to wager at least $40 on their teams in bracket pools.

At least 15 percent of Americans said they will spend less in pools this year than they did in previous years, with 10 percent deciding not to wager anything at all, stating money is too tight in these tough economic times.

Despite the wager, most surveyed said they would be responsible with their money if they hit it big. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed said they would pay off their debts if they won $1 million, while 16 percent said they would save it. Four percent said they would give it to charity.

Five percent said they’d head to Las Vegas and help out our broken economy. I guess we better pray for that million.

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