Last Updated: April 5, 2019
It’s as much a rite of spring as melting snow, blooming flowers and daylight savings time: Money changing hands — sometimes in considerably large quantities — on March Madness games.
For decades, that’s happened most commonly via office/friends and family bracket pools. Perhaps less mainstream — but still alive and kicking — is the underground betting market consisting of the friendly neighborhood bookie or the offshore, unregulated sportsbook.
The annual tournament’s do-or-die format and springtime setting make it a sports betting version of Mardi Gras. There are multiple days of thrills, risks, close calls, adult beverages and an overall cascade of highs and lows.
In fact, the only missing piece might be the beads. Well that, and their uniquely creative solicitation methods.
FanDuel Sportsbook offering free-to-play bracket contest
Nik Bonaddio, chief product officer for FanDuel, had confirmed in a February interview on TheLines Podcast that the operator would run a free March Madness bracket contest, similar to what it did for last year on its daily fantasy sports (DFS) site.
Following Selection Sunday, that $250,000 single-entry Bracket Madness Contest is now available on the mobile version of the sportsbook. The good news — besides the fact there’s no cost to enter — is that participants don’t need a perfect bracket in order to cash in. Plus, anyone in the US with a FanDuel account can play for no cost!
Rather, simple participation gives each contestant a chance. Participants earn points for every March Madness game they peg correctly. The top scorer at the end of the tournament wins a $100,000 grand prize. In all, the top 1,000 scores finish in the money. Those qualifying for 2nd-5th place takes home five-figure sums between $10,000 and $25,000.
“We think it’s a great opportunity to expose the sportsbook to people who may be reticent to dive right in,” said Bonaddio. “I think March Madness is a good entry point.”
More than just brackets in FanDuel’s March Madness offerings
Notably, Bracket Madness is far from the only way FanDuel Sportsbook is commemorating the craziness that’s about to ensue on the hardwood for the remainder of the month.
To begin with, FanDuel is offering two rewarding promotions for its Garden State customers:
- Bandwagon Bonus: Place any NCAA championship future, get a $5 bonus for every game your team wins along the way.
- Conference Tournaments: Bet at least $10 on each of 5 or more conference tournament games and we will give you $10 in FanDuel Sportsbook site credit.
The operator is also rolling out a free daily contest — Props Pick ‘Em. Participants will compete for a $10,000 daily jackpot. FanDuel will roll out specific props each day beginning with the kickoff of the First Four on Tuesday, March 19, and contestants will make their selections accordingly. Moreover, the jackpot will roll over to the following day on nights when no one is able to claim it.
Back in February, Bonaddio had hinted that FanDuel would be “leaning in pretty hard” with respect to the variety of kinds of props offered, evoking the operator’s Super Bowl offerings as a good reference point.
The comparison to sports betting’s unofficial one-day national holiday is fitting. After all, an estimated $10 billion was already being bet on March Madness annually before legalized sportsbooks outside of Nevada were nothing more than a pipe dream.
Therefore, FanDuel is ready to capitalize on the most fertile of wagering markets for the first time.
Unprecedented March Madness betting landscape in PASPA-less environment
What’s often been a true statement over the last few months on the sports calendar applies to March Madness as well: The betting environment surrounding this year’s 68-team, single-elimination extravaganza that ultimately decides the NCAA’s Division 1 men’s basketball national champion is going to be different.
Thanks to last May’s Supreme Court decision eradicating the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), all manner of legalized March Madness wagering is available for the first time this year to those in the following states (in addition to Nevada):
As has been the case for major events that have transpired since non-Nevada legalized wagering began unfolding this past summer, the availability of legalized betting should increase overall interest exponentially.