Legal March Madness Betting
The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship is one of the biggest sporting events of the year, so it should come as no surprise that sportsbooks offer legal March Madness betting. Yes, there is fun to be had in filling out your office bracket, but why not also make some real money to add to the excitement? Just think of all the opportunities there are to wager and win on the 68 teams that play in the single-elimination tournament throughout the month of March. It doesn’t matter if you are rooting for a No. 1 seed to go all the way or a No. 12 seed to cause an upset – bookmakers will have March Madness betting odds on every team in the tournament.
You can start betting on March Madness before the tournament tips off and really any time before the final buzzer. We’ll explain this later in the guide but for now, just know that NCAA basketball fans have plenty of options for legal March Madness betting. Throughout this page, you can learn more about the legality of betting on the NCAA Tournament as well as how to start making deposits and wagering at legal sports betting sites.
Is It Legal To Bet On March Madness In The U.S.?
It is legal to bet on March Madness in the U.S. through three different methods. Sportsbooks that are operated and licensed at the state level are acceptable to wager on March Madness. This includes both through land-based outlets as well as online platforms associated with the state. Keep in mind that betting regulations differ by the state and some states will not allow you to take action on collegiate sporting events or the Tournament itself.
If that’s the case (and for the three-dozen states without legal sports betting), we recommend signing up at an offshore betting site. These legal March Madness betting sites may not be located within the country but they are licensed and provide more options and better odds than the local sports. As long as you are not using a local bookie that is unlicensed, and stick to these three methods, you can legally bet on March Madness from all 50 states.
2020 March Madness Men’s Championship Odds
Duke fans should be happy that their team is still considered the best of the field even with Zion Williamson and company now in the NBA. Reigning champion, the Virginia Cavaliers opened as co-favorites with Duke but has already seen their odds decrease. With the 2020 Final Four being held in Atlanta, you can be sure that big named programs, Kentucky, Michigan State, Michigan, and Gonzaga, will do their preseason 2020 March Madness odds justice. Please remember to always shop lines across multiple books, as there is some great value to be had on mid-tier teams (and favorites who are graded differently).
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States With Legal March Madness Betting
There are currently eight states with legal March Madness betting in the wake of the PASPA dismissal. That means that in select cities, basketball fans can visit a local sportsbook to bet on the NCAA Tournament. More states are being added to the list as new sports betting laws are passed, but here are the places you can visit to get in on live action:
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
- New Mexico
If you compare the March Madness odds at land-based sportsbooks to online sportsbooks, you might notice differences in the variety and overall value. Licensing fees, taxes, operational costs, plus local fanfare might cause the payouts to be lower at local venues. Online sportsbooks usually have better odds and there are no restrictions on which teams can be wagered on. In New Jersey, for example, patrons cannot bet on hometown collegiate teams or even college games that take place in the state.
Are March Madness Brackets And Pools Legal?
Yes, March Madness brackets and office pools are generally considered legal in most states. This is because the pool structure does not constitute as actual sports betting (a form of gambling). Some states do have specific rules for office pools, though the social gaming aspect of March Madness brackets is usually considered acceptable. The FBI is not going to break down any doors for placing a $5 bet with your coworkers or filling out an online bracket contest. Where concerns of legality come in are when there is a house take – the amount that an individual keeps for profit. This is considered bookmaking, which is not permitted outside of licensed venues in a state or through offshore books. It is perfectly legal to participate in March Madness brackets, pools, and contests for real money or just for fun.
Legal March Madness Wager Types
In order to start betting on any of the 68 teams competing in the NCAAB Tournament, you need to know the legal March Madness wager types. The single-elimination style NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship presents plenty of opportunities for smart sports bettors to turn huge profits. The March Madness wager types are luckily the same as the bet types available throughout the regular NCAA basketball season, which reduces the learning curve. Here are the common bet types for wagering on March Madness:
When betting on NCAA Futures, you will be able to bet on the outright winner of March Madness. This type of bet is available on the odds board well before the official start of the NCAA Tournament. You will be making a bet on one team to win it all. In the outrights market, you will get the best value by placing your bets before your team starts to win games. Take this example:
- Michigan State (+500)
Here, the Spartans are at +500. However, we have no context where about the season this is. If this is early in the year and the team is expected to win, this would not be a bad play. However, if the team is struggling and it is near the beginning of the tournament, you may be able to find better odds elsewhere. Always being proactive on the futures action is recommended, as you can find amazing payouts all throughout the season.
Each game will have a point spread posted, which is the number of points a team must win or lose by in order to win the wager. The favored (-) team must win by more points than indicated in the spread, while the underdog (+) must lose by less than the spread or win outright. For example, a game between North Carolina and Gonzaga may be posted with the following spread:
- North Carolina -3
- Gonzaga +3
If you were to back the favored North Carolina Tar Heels, the team would need to win by more than 3 points to cover the spread. For the Gonzaga Bulldogs to cover, they must lose by less than 3 points or win the game outright. If North Carolina won by exactly 3 points, the bet would result in a “push” and the wager would be refunded. This is why many sportsbooks post such spread bets with half-point increments.
Betting on the total of a March Madness game is another wagering option. The oddsmaker will assign a total number of combined points to be scored by both teams, and you will wager on the total points to be over or under this number. This is why totals bets are commonly called “over/under” bets. Here is an example:
- Mount St Mary’s - Over 132
- Villanova - Under 132
For this totals bet, you can bet the “over” if you believe St. Mary’s and Villanova will combine to score more than 132 points. You can take the “under” if you believe the final score will be less 132 points combined. Again, many books will use half-point increments to prevent pushing, and the moneyline in parentheses shows the price/payout of the wager. The totals betting action is the easiest to hedge during live betting as well.
Betting on the money line is a wager on the outright winner of a particular March Madness game. A moneyline bet is more often referred to as a straight bet or straight moneyline bet, given that money lines themselves are a part of all wager types. With a straight moneyline bet, you don’t have to worry about the number of points put up or covering the spread. You’re just picking which team you think will win “straight up,” and the moneyline shows how much you stand to win. Take a look at the straight moneyline bet below on the Duke Blue Devils and the Kansas Jayhawks matchup:
- Duke -150
- Kansas +125
Here, the moneyline shows not only the bet’s price tag, but it also indicates which team is the favorite (shown with a minus sign) and which is the underdog (shown with a plus sign). If you were to bet on Duke at -150, you would need to wager $150 in order to win $100 should they take the W. If you were to bet on underdog Kansas for $100, you would see a return of $125. These aren’t betting minimums, by the way – they are merely ratios that show how much you stand to win per a given amount wagered. Most legal online March Madness betting sites will take individual bets of as low as $0.25.
March Maddness Proposition Bets
March Madness is one of the best times to bet props, especially when you see your bracket start to bust. NCAA Tournament props can cover a wide range of scenarios that can cover specific players, an entire team, or the game overall. You can find over/unders on the largest lead of the game, the margin of victory, over/under points and assists for a particular player, and more.
In many cases, March Madness prop bets will go completely outside the realm of a particular matchup and focus on scenarios related to the tournament. Here are some of the more popular proposition bets for March Madness, generally speaking:
- Will A #1 Seed Win The NCAA Men's Championship?
- How Many #1 Seeds Will Make The Final Four?
- Will X Team Make The Sweet 16?
- Which Conference Will Win The NCAA Tournament?
- Odds To Win A Specific Region
- Which Team Will Advance Further In The NCAA Tournament?
Legal March Madness Betting FAQ’s
Are There March Madness Sportsbook Bonuses?
There are always plenty of March Madness sportsbook bonuses to go around during the Tournament. You are most likely to find the biggest bonuses online, where the cashier will match your deposit by anywhere from 50% to 100% on average. The best March Madness bonuses can be found at sites like BetOnline and SportsBetting, which accept NCAA Tournament bets from all 50 states. Some local sportsbooks offer promotions as well, usually in the form of a risk-free bet where the player will receive a free play if their bet should lose.
What Is Live Betting?
Live betting is an interactive way to legally bet on the March Madness tournament. Sportsbook operators will post live odds that change along with the action in the game. Real-time odds are fast-paced, making betting on March Madness even more exciting. Oddsmakers will post player props, first half lines, second half lines, money lines, point spreads, and other live betting odds throughout the game. The live betting platform will also show bettors as odds improve or worsen, and there are usually time indicators as well. In-game wagering is offered at all online sportsbooks and the majority of land-based.
Can I Bet On March Madness From My Mobile Phone?
Yes, fans can bet on March Madness from just about any mobile device. Online legal betting sitess feature a mobile-optimized version of their site that can be easily accessed from iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, iPads, and any other internet-ready device. The same March Madness betting odds can be found from the desktop and mobile betting app. If you are looking for state-licensed mobile options, there are only a couple of states with these offerings. New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania are the only states with operating mobile betting industries. However, other states such as Mississippi, Delaware, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Tennessee are set to go mobile sooner than later.