Other states ready for March Madness betting

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In Las Vegas, this is old hat. Open the doors to the ballrooms, man the betting windows, keep the beer cold and let the basketball bacchanal begin.

But for other parts of the country where legalized sports betting is a recent revelation, the NCAA Tournament is a chance to cash in on the frenzy of March Madness.

The seven states that joined Nevada with legalized sports betting — New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, New Mexico and West Virginia — got a taste of it back in February with the Super Bowl. But the NCAA Tournament lasts three weeks and the biggest days are the first four, particularly the first two.

The books know this because many of them have personnel that have worked in Las Vegas and have seen the madness first-hand. So they will be prepared come Thursday morning when the NCAAs kick into high gear.

“We’re really excited for the tournament,” said Keith Wall, FanDuel’s vice president of commercial retail. “We’ll make sure the customer service is spot on.”

FanDuel’s book at the Meadowlands Racetrack is going to be a popular gathering place. Unlike the NFL or college football season where many bettors use their phone accounts in the Garden State and never step foot on the property, the NCAA Tournament lends itself to active participation in the book.

The FanDuel book at the Meadowlands will have 35 windows open and 25 self-serve kiosks to server customers. There will also be staff to help those not accustomed to making a bet.

“We have a Quick Assist team that can answer questions and not hold up the lines,” Wall said. “We expect a lot of new people to be there and we want them to have a positive experience.”

A recent visit to the FanDuel book on a college basketball Saturday saw a lot of traffic at the betting windows as well as the kiosks. The restaurant and bar in the main book area were full and virtually every screen had a game on.

“We’ve been busy all (college basketball) season,” Wall said. “We’re expecting business to pick up for the tournament. We’ll be busy at the bar and the restaurant.”

FanDuel will have an online contest that will pay the winner with the most correct selections $250,000. There will be radio remotes, giveaways and other specials.

“There’ll be plenty going on to keep the excitement going,” Wall said.

It’ll be a similar scene at the other states’ books. The opening of FanDuel’s book last week at Valley Forge Casino Resort in Pennsylvania with Boyd Gaming will have a lot of volume as the tournament gets underway.

“We’re very excited about Valley Forge,” Wall said. “It’s a great market to be in and I have no doubt we’ll be very busy.”

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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