SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — March Madness has just begun! College basketball fans can finally make a legal bet on their favorite teams for the first time here in the Commonwealth.

It was packed at MGM Springfield earlier Thursday evening! To put it in perspective 18 million more Americans are expected to wager on March Madness compared to last month’s Super Bowl.

“There’s an excitement here in this building that hasn’t been felt in a while,” expressed MGM Springfield’s Casino Operations Vice President, Robert Westerfield, “The book has been full since 11 o’clock this morning. Folks have been at the window making bets on their favorite team, everybody has their brackets out.”

Now that sports betting and online wagering are legal here in Massachusetts college basketball fans wasted no time in picking favorites and placing their bets at MGM Springfield.

It’s projected that 68 million Americans plan on placing a wager for March Madness and 31 million of them will place those bets online or at a sports book. Americans are also expected to dish out around $15 billion dollars in wagers on this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Richie Bonney of Wilbraham told 22News, “The timing is great! To have it go live for March Madness is perfect. I have the Bet MGM app which is great! The competitive nature of the tournament and chance for upsets…the intensity is awesome!”

Westerfield has some advice for sports fans who come to the casino to watch the tournament, “Get here early and get yourself a spot! But, plan on spending some time and enjoying yourself, make your bets, get a bite to eat, there are T.Vs everywhere and watch your teams in action. It’s perfect!”

About 56 million people plan to participate in a bracket contest for March Madness this year.