Legal March Madness Betting

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, better known as March Madness is one of the biggest events in sports betting every year. Legal March Madness betting brings in an estimated $10 billion wagered on the tournament year in and year out and with the one-and-done structure of the games, many underdog bettors cash in big during the tournament. In 2022, legal sports betting on March Madness will continue to grow as college basketball continues to get back to normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are betting lines for each game, for how far in the tournament a given team will place, and for filling out the perfect bracket. The March Madness tournament is the gift that keeps on giving for college basketball bettors. The perfect bracket in particular is a very popular wager that has never been captured. In the past, a winning perfect bracket would win a billion dollars from Warren Buffet. The odds of hitting the perfect bracket are estimated to be 1 in over 9 quintillions.

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Is It Legal To Bet On March Madness?

Las Vegas was the popular legal go-to March Madness betting destination, as the city was the focal point for sports gambling for decades. Now, there are around two dozen states offering regulated March Madness betting, but nearly every state permits some form of licensed online sports betting. With each regulated state having their own sports betting laws – especially when it comes to college sports – understanding just exactly the ways to bet on March madness can be difficult.

Some states, like New York and New Jersey, have a prohibition against legal March Madness betting on in-state college teams… or any collegiate event played within their borders. Others, like Oregon, enforce a blanket ban on college sports betting by their mobile sportsbooks, leaving bettors to head to a tribal sportsbook or utilize a licensed online sportsbook. These betting sites are legal for March Madness betting players that meet minimum age requirements – just be sure to stick with major, licensed operators.

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Bovada Sportsbook

Bovada March Madness Betting

March Madness betting time is upon sports bettors. As arguably the biggest sports betting event of the year, bettors have plenty of options when it comes to betting on March Madness on Bovada. Bettors can take advantage of the normal game lines that they have to offer or even bet on March Madness game props as well such as first half totals, winning margin and more. The great thing about Bovada is that they allow their CBB betting players to get a hold of their 2022 March Madness odds from anywhere as they can be accessed right at your fingertips. Check out the college basketball live betting scene as well!

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States With Legal March Madness Betting

Most states that have legal sports betting in their legislation offer betting lines for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. March Madness betting is a very popular event and is available at most regulated sportsbooks in the US. Some states have specific rules against betting on collegiate events that are happening within the state, but the betting odds for the March Madness tournament are still very much allowed.

  • Illinois
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Delaware
  • Arkansas
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Hampshire
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • Iowa
  • Tennessee
  • Indiana
  • Oregon
  • Montana
  • D.C.
  • New York
  • Delaware
  • Rhode Island

There is one problem for some sports bettors, and it is that many state legislatures have instituted rules about college basketball betting in various forms. These rules vary, with some states restricting bets only on teams from the state, and some states restricting all college basketball wagering, and even more states restricting only prop betting on college basketball. The most common implementation of this is that, players cannot bet on local teams no matter where they are playing AND they cannot bet on any match occurring within state lines – no matter the teams. New Jersey, who will be hosting March Madness in 2025, is petitioning to have a loophole that would allow New Jersey players to bet on March Madness.

Are March Madness Brackets Legal?

March Madness brackets are all what is fun about the NCAA Tournament. They are completely legal in every state no matter if they have state-regulated sports betting or not. They could be done either with friends for cash prizes in which whoever gets the most points wins the pool. They could also be done in different, bigger groups as well which offer huge grand prizes. Other bracket tournaments are also found on legal sports betting sites such as BetOnline which holds a Sweet 16 bracket challenge every year.

March Madness

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.

Tournament Structure

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament structure is simple enough to understand. A total of 68 teams will battle it out over the course of 67 total games in a single-elimination style event. All the games are played within 19 days. Once a team loses, they are eliminated and the team that beat them moves on to the next round. This will continue until there are only two teams left, battling it out for the title. This is a major betting attraction at legal sports betting sites due to the one and done nature leading to many upsets. Millions of Americans wager on the March Madness tournament each year, giving many opportunities for huge wins.

BetOnline Sweet 16 Bracket Challenge

BetOnline offers one of the biggest bracket challenges throughout March Madness. For those who are either sick of their old bracket or just want to double down, the BetOnline Sweet 16 bracket contest costs $15 per entry as players fill out a bracket as normal. There is a 10-bracket limit so that people who fill out more brackets have a better chance to win. The participant that finishes with the most points gets the top prize of $15,000. Players can continue getting prizes all the way up to 300th place which pays out $125.

BetOnline Bracket Madness

Sweet 16 Bracket Point System

  • 1 point for every correct selection in the Sweet 16
  • 2 points for every correct selection in the Elite 8
  • 4 points for every correct selection in the Final Four
  • 8 points for picking the winner of the Championship Game

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.

Betting On The Point Spread

Every game has a spread, which is the expected result for the difference in points at the end of the game. 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
Tennessee +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.

Taking Action On The Moneyline

The most straight forward way to wager would be to bet on the moneyline. Moneyline betting is for sports bettors who are confident in a team winning the game but do not want to risk the bet by taking action on the number of points they will win by. Reading betting lines for March Madness moneyline betting is simple. The team with the lower number associated with their odds will be the favored team, while the team with the higher number will be the longshot. The odds also indicate the payout for the given wagers. For example, online sportsbooks show -150 for Gonzaga and +125 for Ohio State. Wagering on Gonzaga would need a bet of $150 to win $100 in profit, while those taking the longshot odds would only wager $100 to win $125 in profit.

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.

General NCAA Tournament Betting Trends

  • A 1 seed has an overall 99.3% chance of making it to the second round of the tournament.
  • A 16 seed has only beaten a 1 seed one-time history when UMBC defeated Virginia in 2016.
  • 1 Seeds have gone 22-12 in the National Championship game.
  • Seeds 4, 6, 7 and 8 all have one National Championship.
  • 5 seeds have made the National Championship three times and lost all three.
  • The 8 & 9 matchup in the first round is separated by four games in the 9 seeds favor.
  • 15 seeds have only made the Sweet 16 one time.
  • 5 seeds have gone 7-2 in the Elite 8
  • Seeds 13-16 have never made the Elite 8.
  • 11 Seeds have gone 0-4 in the Final Four.

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 Odds

Betting on the NCAA Tournament is done best when cashing in on futures bets. Sports betting fans can find relatively long odds on all the major teams before the tournament, giving ample time to lean in on the odds before the tournament begins. With early betting, players will be able to see the highest return should an underdog win the whole thing.

Where To Bet On March Madness

Arkansas
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.

Colorado
Colorado’s online sports betting was launched in May of 2020, and has been a success for the state so far. Colorado does not restrict collegiate betting, so bettors in CO can wager on March Madness to their heart’s content. Colorado has options for both commercial and online casinos, and bettors can peruse all their options in order to find out what the best way to wager on sports in CO is.

Delaware
Delaware was the first state in the country to legalize sports betting, and actually had sports betting even prior to that, being exempt from PASPA, the law that kept sports betting illegal in the state. Delaware is a state that does not restrict its bettors from wagering on collegiate athletics, so in the context of March Madness, all the possible bets should be on the table in Delaware.

Illinois
Illinois’s sports betting officially launched just in time for the 2020 edition of March Madness, which was canceled due to COVID-19. However, sports betting in Illinois is now in full effect and bettors can bet on the tournament as they please. Looking ahead to the 2022 tournament, bettors can bet on their favorite Illinois-based teams such as the Illinois Fighting Illini or the Loyola Chicago Ramblers.

Indiana
of the games taking place inside the state. Intriguingly, Indiana does restrict some amateur athletics wagering, so there is no betting on anyone under the age of 18. There are also discretionary limits on live betting, which are up to the Indiana Gaming Commission. For March Madness, Indiana allowed most if not all of the major wagers.

Iowa
Iowa’s online sportsbooks are some of the best in the nation, and have been live since 2019. Intriguingly, because of when they were legalized in 2019, and the cancellation of March Madness in 2020, the 2021 Tournament was the first March Madness that Iowa’s bettors will be able to wager on. Iowa’s online sportsbooks restrict live betting on collegiate athletics, so you can’t wager on teams while the ball is in play, which will impact March Madness betting in Iowa.

Mississippi
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.

Montana
Montana has legalized sports betting via the SportsBet Montana app, as well as via a large number of betting kiosks that can be found across the state. Montana’s bettors can use the app and the kiosks in order to place wagers for 2022’s edition of the NCAA Tournament, AKA March Madness. Montana does not restrict wagering on collegiate athletics, so bettors in Montana will have access to the full range of bets for March Madness.

Nevada
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.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s online sports betting was legalized in 2019, but there is a catch as far as March Madness goes. There is no betting allowed on in-state teams and in-state games. The second restriction is irrelevant this time around because the entire tournament will be taking place in Indiana, but the first restriction means that anyone who wants to bet on any team from NH will be unable to do so if they are in NH when placing that bet.

New Jersey
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.

New Mexico
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.

New York
New York has multiple casinos available, but they are not online, and are generally located upstate. With four commercial casinos and seven tribal casinos, New York’s sports bettors have options, but most of them involve travel. New York additionally restricts collegiate betting, so New Yorkers are unable to bet on college games within the state or games that involve teams from New York. This makes it tough to wager on March Madness in NY if you want to bet on any team from NY. All the other teams are on the table, though.

Oregon
Oregon’s online sportsbooks were launched in 2019, and there are multiple options for bettors in the state. They can use the tribal sportsbooks or they can use the state lottery if they wish to place wagers on sports. Oregon has no restrictions on collegiate wagering and should be a solid state for March Madness betting in 2022. With multiple options for wagering in the state, and no collegiate restrictions, there’s nothing to fear for Oregon sports bettors who wish to wager on the NCAA Tournament.

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has swiftly become one of the biggest betting markets in the entire country, and online sports bettors have a lot of options in PA. PA allows for multiple online sportsbooks, and has tons of different ones so that bettors can shop lines easily and find the best bets for March Madness. There are no March Madness betting restrictions in PA, which means that once again, bettors in PA are some of the luckiest bettors in the United States.

Rhode Island
Rhode Island’s sports betting industry was legalized in a very specific aspect – they have two commercial casinos at which you can wager, and they have established an enormous tax on the sportsbooks in question. However, their industry is still up and running, and they notably do not have any restrictions on collegiate sports betting, so March Madness bettors can find all of the odds at Rhode Island’s sportsbooks.

Tennessee
Tennessee’s sportsbooks went live in late 2020, and were a resounding success. Tennessee implemented a model of online sports betting with no retail sports betting, and it went off very well. March Madness is coming up, and Tennessee looks to be one of the very best states in the country in terms of online betting options on March Madness.

West Virginia
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.

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?

As the March Madness Tournament is one of the biggest sports betting events of the year, there are definitely betting lines available for the major college basketball tournament. The best odds for the NCAA Men and Women Basketball Tournament are at online and mobile sportsbooks. You will be able to wager for every stage of the tournament including the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final 4, and the ultimate championship game. As these games are done in a one-and-done system, making mobile bets on the March Madness Tournament is a great way to cash in on underdog bets and cinderella stories throughout the March Madness Tournament.

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.

How Can I Watch March Madness?

Those that bet on March Madness games will want to watch how their wagers play out. There are a few different avenues that bettors can go about this. Every single game will be broadcast by either CBS, TBS, truTV, or TNT. If you have a cable package but don’t have access to a TV you can always use the site or app known as March Madness Live. However, if you don’t have access to cable at all, there are several other ways to stream the games. The most popular services to handle that would be Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, and of course fuboTV.