North Carolina, Kentucky, Florida Sports Bettors Get Their First March Madness Wagering Opportunity

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It’s fair to describe the appetite for college basketball in North Carolina as ardent. Ardently ardent.

The same goes for Kentucky.

And even though Florida’s sports persona skews more toward football, the state is peppered with high-achieving college basketball programs.

When the NCAA Tournament First Round tips on Thursday, these three states will have produced nine qualifiers.

For the first time, residents of these states can channel their passions or hunches about their old alma mater or the place where their kid spends their retirement fund into legal sports bets.

As opposed to a growing number of other states, bettors in Florida, Kentucky, and North Carolina will be able to play single-player prop bets.

Five of eight first-round tourney sites will have legal mobile sports betting available.

NC Florida Kentucky March Madness betting
AP Photos; Brant James illustration

Tar Heels Fans, North Carolina Bettors Get Home Game

college prop bets

The Spectrum Center in Charlotte figures to be a hub of mobile betting activity with the Tar Heels, top-seeded in the West, set to face the Howard/Wagner winner on Thursday. The locals will likely be intrigued and offended with North Carolina at +1700 to win the title.

Duke earned a four seed in the South and will meet No. 13 Vermont on Thursday in Brooklyn, N.Y.

North Carolina State earned an 11 seed and is scheduled to face No. 8 Texas Tech in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

At bet365 on Wednesday, 13.8% of tournament championship futures nationally backed the Tar Heels. That number ballooned to 32.1% for bets placed within North Carolina.

North Carolina residents were much less bullish on Duke. The Blue Devils earned 2.1% of champion futures nationally and 3.3% back home.

With Fort Mill and Rock Hill, S.C., major Charlotte suburbs, South Carolina (sixth, Midwest), Clemson (eighth, West), and Charleston (13th, West) figure to also be of interest in North Carolina, where sports betting launched on March 11.

“North Carolina’s a real college basketball state,” DraftKings director of race and sportsbook operations Johnny Avello told Gaming Today. “And for them to come on board when they are going to catch conference tournaments, the big tournaments, the field of 68, that’s probably going to be the focus first and foremost.”

Avello later told Gaming Today that the overall handle in North Carolina had so far “significantly exceeded our expectations.”

FanDuel National Championship Odds, North Carolina Teams:

  • Duke:
  • North Carolina:
  • NC State:

Kentucky Bettors Have Three Home-Grown Choices in Tournament

The Wildcats, seeded third in the West, lead a Kentucky bench also comprised of Morehead State (14th, East) and Western Kentucky (15th, South). The Wildcats and Hilltoppers could meet in the regional semifinals.

“Allowing everyone in Kentucky to legally lean in on March Madness for both the men’s and women’s tourney will be massive,” Kentucky resident and Chalkline co-founder and CEO Daniel Kustelski told Gaming Today. “
And homerish. At bet365, the Wildcats drew 33.1% of the national championship future bets within Kentucky but just 7.8% elsewhere.

DraftKings National Championship Odds, Kentucky Teams:

  • Kentucky:
  • Morehead State:
  • Western Kentucky:

Florida Gets Three NCAA Bids, USF Snub That Creates Salty NIT Matchup

In Florida, the Gators (seeded seventh in the South Regional), Florida Atlantic (eighth-seeded in the East), and Stetson (16th, East) should be enough to intrigue customers of Hard Rock Bet, who will make their first legal wagering foray into March.

Mobile sports betting in Florida was first launched in 2021 but lasted just 33 days. It was shut down in December due to litigation that technically remains ongoing. Sufficiently satisfied with its legal standing, the Seminole Tribe of Florida re-launched its state-wide monopoly in November.

“With three in-state teams involved, I would expect some monster numbers to come out of this state,” said Brandon Kravitz, whose show on 96.9 The Game in Orlando is often chocked with sports betting banter.

LISTEN UP: Brandon Kravitz on those wild 33 days of Florida sports betting 1.0

The University of South Florida’s fan base was both dejected and irate after the Bulls went 24-7 and won the American Athletic regular season title but were relegated to the NIT. That said, the Bulls’ first-round visit to mega-rival Central Florida might be the most heavily bet game in the state.

That is unless Stetson makes some history. A Hatters upset No. 1 Connecticut, and an Owls defeat of No. 9 Northwestern would set up a Stetson-FAU second-round match-up. It wouldn’t exactly be Loyola-Chicago vs. Illinois circa 2021, but it would be interesting.

Hard Rock National Championship Odds, Florida Teams:

  • Florida: +6000
  • Florida Atlantic: +15000
  • Stetson: +250000

 

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Senior Writer
Brant James is a senior writer at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times, ESPN.com, espnW, SI.com and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats, once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr., and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella yelled at him numerous times. In covering the sports betting industry, he's looking for what and who are next and why.

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