By Jordan Bianchi | | 4 mins
A Guide to Legal NCAA Sweet 16 Betting, Online or in Person
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is the most lucrative sports betting event in the United States. Nearly 47 million people will wager on March Madness, according to a recent American Gaming Association study.
Filling out a bracket for a pool or using an illegal offshore betting site have been the most popular ways to gamble on the tournament in recent years. But legal March Madness betting in America has become more accessible than ever over the past 10 months.
Seven states have added operational sportsbooks since May, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which had banned legalized sports betting outside of Nevada.
Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia have since opened sportsbooks and several other states have legislation pending.
College basketball betting options vary by state. With the Sweet 16 starting Thursday, here’s a breakdown of how you can legally wager on March Madness -- both online and in person.
Where Can I Bet March Madness Online?
As other states try to replicate the legal sports betting offered in Nevada, the Silver State remains the top gambling destination in the U.S. with more than 100 sportsbooks. But you don’t have to visit a sportsbook in Nevada to place a bet, as state laws also permit online wagering.
Any resident or guest within Nevada can legally bet using a regulated online casino. The person must first register in person at a legal casino or gaming facility.
Legalized sports betting began in New Jersey in May and the Garden State quickly ascended to rival Nevada as the top-revenue generating state. In fact, New Jersey topped Nevada in January revenue, with its sportsbooks collecting $18.8 million compared to $14.6 million in Nevada.
One reason the gaming market has grown in New Jersey is easy online wagering. Unlike Nevada, players in New Jersey are not required to pre-register at a legal casino or gaming facility. They instead can register online at a continued growing list of legal sites.
Where Can I Bet In-Person?
Mississippi was one of the first states to embrace legal sports betting once the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban last year. It’s also currently the only southern state to take legal bets – and one of the most robust markets overall.
With sportsbooks in several casinos near Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s two largest cities, there are multiple options for bettors. The Rivers Casino Pittsburgh even hired noted odds-maker Jimmy Vaccaro in February, enticing him away from the South Point casino in Las Vegas to set lines at the Pittsburgh area casino.
West Virginia did offer sports betting online, but that option is currently unavailable during what is being called a temporary “interruption in service.” For in-person betting, there are five sportsbooks at casinos spanning across the state.
Rhode Island lawmakers passed a bill authorizing online sports betting this year, and it has been signed into law, though online sportsbooks won’t be operational in time for March Madness. There are two casinos, both with operational sportsbooks.
Once the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, Delaware became the first state outside of Nevada to accept wagers on sports events. There are three casinos – including at the NASCAR track in Dover, which hosts races twice a year – and each has a sportsbook that will list odds on tournament games throughout the month.
New Mexico has two casinos that accept wagers in-person sports events, with the newest sportsbook opening earlier this month at the Buffalo Thunder Casino in Santa Fe.