Legal March Madness Betting
You may be wondering where you can find legal March Madness betting. The tournament is one of the most popularized sporting events in the country with an estimated $10 billion bet on the NCAA Tournament each year. This includes entertaining the idea of filling out a perfect bracket, joining an office pool, and the standard run of the mill single-game wagering options. Fans get excited in hopes of filling out the perfect bracket, which used to have a billion-dollar payout from Warren Buffet, but the odds are estimated to be 1 in over 9 quintillions.
The tournament consists of 68 teams and 67 games – all played within 19 days. There is no other sporting event that holds this much excitement in such a short period of time. College teams enter the tournament from all around the country, which increases its popularity in fans of all ages. It is estimated that double-digit millions of Americans participate in some form of March Madness betting every year; however, most are not aware of all of their options for legal sports betting, as only 3% wager with a legal and regulated sportsbook inside the country.
There are many options for fans looking to legally bet on the NCAA tournament. Las Vegas is a popular go-to, as the city has been the focal point for sports gambling for decades. Recently, however, the Supreme Court ruled that PASPA, the law which made sports betting illegal, was unconstitutional, allowing states the right to self-determine their own sports betting laws. There are currently 14 states that have launched legal sports betting. Unfortunately, each state has its own laws about the legality of gambling on college sports. Some states, like New York, have a prohibition against betting on in-state college teams, while others, like Oregon, enforce a blanket ban on college sports betting. For those who don’t want to contend with all the bureaucratic red tape, online sportsbooks offer a great alternative. These overseas books are legal for all gamblers that meet minimum age requirements – just be sure to stick with major, licensed operators.
States With Legal March Madness Betting
This list has been steadily growing since the repeal of PASPA, but it is still a short one. States currently accepting college basketball bets include Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Arkansas, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Mississippi, and New Mexico. Four states that boast legal sports betting (New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, and New York) do not allow bettors to wager on in-state college teams, while Oregon does not allow players to wager on college sports of any kind. However, these states do offer odds on out of state teams but bettors will find that sportsbooks that are based offshore are not subject to these same restrictions.
Are March Madness Brackets Legal?
March Madness brackets or office pools are in a gray area when it comes to legality. Most states determine social gambling to be a prohibited form of gambling; however, there have not been any arrests or convictions towards somebody running an office pool. This is generally accepted by every state as popular websites offer paid and unpaid entries into a bracket pool. This includes tournaments where prizes or no prizes are won and brackets are available for download all over the internet. Just be sure to get your picks in after Selection Sunday and before the “first four” play in games.
Legal March Madness Wager Types
Before you overwhelm yourself and worry just about brackets, you should also understand your wagering options for legal March Madness betting. The single-elimination tournament is known for the Cinderella story of a team who went further than anticipated, the top dog who gets booted too early, and the streaking team who can’t seem to lose. Furthermore, all of these can be gambled upon – it is just a matter of which style of betting you will participate in.
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NCAA Tournament Futures Bets – COVID-19 And The NCAA Tournament
One of the most shocking developments of the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak was the NCAA’s decision to cancel March Madness. After initially deciding to play the games normally but without fans, the NCAA quickly announced that it would be canceling the entire tournament as other major sports organizations did the same. Players and fans alike were robbed of one of the greatest events in sports, but that’s a necessary sacrifice in the wake of such an unprecedented global health crisis. While it is unfortunate that so many incredible stories will be left untold, the greater good had to take priority.
March Madness Selection Criteria
The full March Madness bracket is revealed on CBS’s annual Selection Sunday show, which begins on Sunday, March 15 at 6 p.m. EST. Every Division I conference championship winner (32 total) earns an automatic bid to the tournament, while the other 36 at-large participants are selected by a 10-member committee comprised of athletic directors and conference commissioners from 10 different conferences. This committee is also responsible for seeding the bracket, designating regions, and determining matchups. There is a deal of mystery surrounding the process, which occurs behind closed doors, but we do know that the committee looks at a wide variety of factors when selecting at-large teams and seeding. Ranked by estimated importance, the primary factors for selection are:
- Strength of record (win-loss record adjusted for strength of schedule)
- Computer metrics and rankings
- Subjective committee analysis (the “eye test”)
- Record in true road games
- Overall strength of schedule
- Nonconference strength of schedule
- Extenuating circumstances that might affect results (i.e., a suspension or injury to a star player)
The goal of the committee is to get the best 36 teams into the field, regardless of which conference they play in or how big their national brand is. In recent years, the committee has also attempted to remove certain criteria that many perceived as unfair, including valuing end-of-season games more than games at the beginning of the year and showing favoritism toward teams with a weak strength of schedule and a good overall record. The only real concrete restriction remaining is that tournament teams must have a record above .500.
Betting On The Point Spread
Every game has a spread, which is the difference in points that a team is being favored by. The favorite will have a minus symbol (-) before the number, while the underdog will have a plus symbol (+). Think of this as a starting point for the favorite or a boost to the underdog. Take this example:
Duke – 3
This signals that Duke is projected to win by three points according to oddsmakers and must win by 4 to cover the spread. Additionally, Tennessee is signaled to lose by three points and must win the game or lose by 1 or 2 points only. If the game ended as a three point victory for Duke then this would be considered a “push”. In that case, all bets would be void and your wager would be returned – this is why most of the betting lines are in increments of half points (-2.5).
Taking Action On The Moneyline
If you are more confident of who will win the game rather than how much they will win by, consider betting the moneyline wager. Teams who are favorited more will have a lesser payout and similarly, teams who are heavy underdogs will have substantial payouts. In the same Duke and Tennessee scenario, the odds would be close -150 for Duke and +125 for Tennessee. The minus and plus symbol still indicate the favorite and underdog, respectively, but now indicate the ratio for being paid out. Duke’s line of -150 indicates you would need to wager $150 for every $100 you want to profit. Likewise, a bet on Tennessee’s line (+125) means you would profit $125 for every $100 wagered. It is important to understand that this is just a ratio and you can bet as little or as much as your local or offshore sportsbook will allow.
Total Points Betting Options
Many times for basketball, the spreads can be difficult to determine because of last-second points. Likewise, game-winning shots can change the result in the last second. The speed of the game is another option you have when looking to legally bet on the NCAA Tournament by betting on the total points scored. Some basketball teams like to slow the pace and play every possession to the extent of the shot clock while others like to get a shot off as quick as possible. These styles of play make it easier to win money betting and determine trends in total points scored. For example, the University of Virginia has been known for slowing the pace down and holding teams to their lowest point production. In their games, the over/under may be a lower number than you see across the betting line board but it is up to you to determine the total points scored.
March Madness Betting Trends
#1 Seed Betting Trends
With the NCAA Men’s Basketball, its time to take a look at some interesting history surrounding the number one seed. For starters, sports bettors who are itching to capitalize on a possible upset from the #16 seed should realize their odds are extremely low. Throughout the entire history of March Madness, only one time has a number one seed lost in the first round. That was in 2018 when the UMBC Retrievers shocked the world and took a 74-54 victory over the top seeded Virginia Cavaliers. The top seeds are currently 135-1 against the bottom seeds in the tournament. The number one seed also wins at least two games 86% of the time, meaning you can rely on the top seed at least advancing to the Final Four. The final tidbit sports bettors should be aware of is that the number one seed tends to cover the spread as long as its less than 20 points. The number one seeds are 8-2 in their last 10 games against the 16 seeds whenever the spread is under 20 points.
The 8 Vs. 9 Matchup
With March Madness incoming, its time to take a look at some betting trends surrounding the tournament. Looking at the middle of the standings, the eight and nine seeds are practically split over the last 30 plus years of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The eight vs nine games are 70-66 since 1985. An interesting point to look at is that whenever the eighth seed wins, they have a 19.1% win-rate (13-55) in the next round. However, whenever the nine seeds advance, they only win 9.7% of the time (7-65). This is because they play the 1-seed (looking at you Virginia) but the eight and nine seeds have also covered the spread 59.1% of the time over the last 11 tournaments.
Betting On The 11-Seeds
For sports bettors looking to cash in on longshot odds in hopes of an underdog, it is wise to note the recent successes of the #11 seeds. Since 2011, the #11 seeds have gone 20-20 against the #6 seeds in the tournament. This gives them an unprecedented 50% upset record. The all-time record of #11 seeds is 52-88, a 37.1%-win rate. In 2017, USC, Rhode Island and Xavier all managed the #11 vs #6 upset and Xavier even advanced to the Elite Eight. In 2019, both Loyola-Chicago and Syracuse won multiple games in the tournament as well. With the one and done structure of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, upsets are always bound to happen.
How Many Upsets Happen Each March Madness?
If you are looking to capitalize on some longshot upsets during March Madness, it’s good to look at the tournaments upset averages. When it comes to betting on the bracket, keep in mind that an annual average of 12.7 upsets happen each year during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The fewest upsets that occurred in March Madness was four in 2007 and the most being 19 in 2014.
Upsets Per Round In The Men’s Basketball Tournament
- Round of 64 – 6.1 upsets
- Round of 32 – 3.6 upsets
- Sweet 16 – 1.7 upsets
- Elite Eight – 0.5 upsets
- Finals Four – 0.2 upsets
By this data, if you are betting on an upset to occur in the NCAA Tournament, it is better to aim earlier in the tournament.
The Effects Of Travel During The NCAA Tournament
An interesting thing sports bettors should note when looking to bet the over during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is how well teams fare when playing close to home. Teams that play closer to home end to play better offensively. Both underdog and the favorites that play closer to home are more likely to cover the spread according to MyBookie.
NCAA Tournament Futures Bets
Sometimes picking a team to win the game or to score a certain amount of points can be difficult. However, other options are available to wager on and these are future bets. These types of bets can be placed at any point before the tournament begins and include the option like which team will win the tournament. Because these bets are made in advance and give you no ability to alter them once submitted, they are often higher payouts.
This has paid off in a big way several times in the past. People who bet on the University of Connecticut in both the 2010-11 and 2013-14 seasons prior to the Big East tournament saw championship odds as long as +4000, +6500, or even +10000. UConn would go on to win national titles as heavy underdogs in both seasons, and a handful of lucky bettors saw amazing returns on their wagers. The odds for the top dozen contenders to win the 2020 Men’s NCAA Tournament are:
- Kansas +500
- Gonzaga +900
- Kentucky +1000
- Baylor +1200
- Dayton +1200
- Duke +1500
- San Diego State +1500
- Florida St +1600
- Michigan St +1600
- Louisville +2000
- Maryland +2000
- Oregon +2000
Where To Bet On March Madness
The state of Arkansas voted to allow sports betting in November 2018 through a mid-term amendment. Since then, two sportsbook licenses have been issued—both in Jefferson County. If you want to place a March Madness bet with a state-licensed operator in Arkansas, your two options are the Oaklawn and Southland casinos. State law doesn’t cover mobile or online sports gambling, but online books are available and legal for everyone in the region.
There are 12 sportsbooks in New Jersey with the majority of them being focused around Atlantic City. Whether you are on the boardwalk or further from the water, there are many betting options provided for the tournament. Away from AC is Monmouth Park which was the first New Jersey sportsbook to open. There is also the ability to enter into any of the 11 online sportsbooks that are offered by the New Jersey casinos, the most popular being the DraftKings and FanDuel Sportsbooks, who both offer sign-up bonuses. These have some restrictions, as you must be located within New Jersey state lines for you to place a wager. Also, per state law, anytime a New Jersey team plays a game, there will be no betting lines offered on that game.
Considered the Mecca of gambling in the country, there are dozens upon dozens of options for betting on March Madness here. Check out the Westgate which offers some of the best betting lines out there and even has a separate window just for high rollers. There are many other options such as the Station Casinos who are hosts to seven different sportsbooks. Nearly all of the operators in Nevada have an online platform but will require you to be within state lines to place a bet. Any odds you are looking for can be found here as they will allow you to take action on nearly any aspect of the game and provide some of the best sportsbook lounges in the world.
With the most sportsbook in the state behind New Jersey and Nevada, Mississippi boasts gambling all throughout their state. Whether you are on the Gulf near Biloxi, along the Mississippi River near Tunica or in the middle of the state near Pear River, there is always a place looking to take your action. Playing the odds at these casinos allow for a wonderful experience as they all have sportsbook lounges that you can enjoy watching the tournament games as well as placing bets. The state does allow for mobile betting but you are required to be on the casino grounds when placing your bet. The Beau Rivage and Gold Strike were the first two open sportsbooks in the state but Mississippi has nearly two dozen sportsbooks to choose from.
Pennsylvania has over a dozen options when it comes to playing the odds on March Madness. The NCAA Tournament is designed to be thrilling and keeping you entertained throughout and the sportsbooks in PA will do just this as well. There has been a discussion about opening a mobile platform before the NCAA Tournament but it seems unlikely this will be in operation in time. Check out the Hollywood Casino or Parx Casino who seem to be leading the pack in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is becoming a haven for sportsbooks but look into Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh as well.
You may not know this but Delaware has had legal sports betting for longer than the majority of states in the country. They used to offer a parlay wagering style that never took off but their regulations stayed put in the state lawbook. March Madness betting in Delaware is available in three different locations: Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway, or Delaware Park. College restrictions apply in this state as well so any Delaware team that makes the tournament will not be on an odds board in the three sportsbooks. There is no mobile platform operated by the state so anyone who lives south of Harrington and Milford would need to take the trip up to Kent County. Meanwhile, those in the Wilmington area have the option of staying in Delaware to bet on the tournament or taking the trip east into Atlantic City for the ability to enjoy a sportsbook lounge.
The options for Rhode Island aren’t as numerous as the other states; however, betting on March Madness in Rhode Island is just as fun and legal. The Twin River Casinos are the only two sportsbooks that are in operating in the state. One is in Lincoln while the other is located in Tiverton. Gamblers who are under 21 are given a luxury here as the Rhode Island betting age is only set at 18. Be aware that they have passed similar rules to New Jersey, where you can not bet on a local college team, even if the game is played outside of the state. No mobile betting options exist but any distance to one of these casinos is never far when you live in Rhode Island.
One of the most laid back states when it comes to legal sports betting is West Virginia. There are no restrictions on college sports betting and they even offer a mobile betting platform. You must be within state lines to submit any action; moreover, you can visit any of the racetracks or casinos that offer sports betting on the NCAA Tournament. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town is likely the most popular book in town but FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier has been making headlines. FanDuel accepts many deposit and withdrawal methods and even has betting lines on next years tournament already. Like we said, there is no shortage when it comes to betting options in West Virginia.
New Mexico is an interesting situation because they have not technically legalized sports betting in the state, but one casino still offers it. The Santa Ana Star, located just outside of Albuquerque, believed they had the right to offer this gaming style according to their compact with the state – even better, the state never fought back. This is the only casino that offers bets on March Madness but thankfully is centrally located in New Mexico. The sportsbook lounge in Santa Ana Star will provide a comfortable atmosphere for watching the games as well as answer any questions you may have about the venue or sports betting in general.
Legal March Madness Betting FAQs
Do Offshore Sportsbook Offer Any Bonuses?
Yes. Every site has its own bonuses and promotions for new and returning members. Most offer a welcoming bonus where they will match anywhere from 50-100% of your first deposit while others have reward programs where you can move the betting lines or have every deposit matched. Spend some time reviewing each licensed offshore sportsbook’s offers as one of them is bound to stand out as the best for your circumstances.
Are There Mobile Options For Betting On The Tournament?
Offshore sportsbooks provide betting lines on the tournament and offer mobile betting that is accessible from anywhere. States like Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia also have state-run platforms that will allow you to play the odds; however, they require that you are located within state lines to place these bets. Additionally, Mississippi has limits on how far you can be from the physical sportsbook location and most are so strict that they won’t even let you wager from the parking lot. Therefore, offshore sportsbooks provide the most options for mobile betting as there are no restrictions for legal March Madness betting.
What Is Live In-Play Betting?
Live in-play betting was considered for extreme gamblers but now is much more commonplace in the legal sports betting world we live in today. This style of betting allows you to play the odds after the game has started. Betting lines and odds changes drastically so you must be quick with your choices but this allows you to stay even more focused on a game regardless of the outcome.