The illegal, offshore sportsbook Bovada released a March Madness prop with perfect bracket odds so awful that it should be described as nothing short of predatory. It’s the latest example of why Americans deserve legal sports betting options with sportsbooks that are regulated and provide consumer protections when regulated properly. When you see this horrendous prop, you may even laugh at how ridiculously terrible the offered odds are.
Full disclosure: TheLines.com is an affiliate of several legal sportsbooks, but it has always been our staff’s mission to educate novice bettors to use the array of legal options in their states to maximize promos at sign up and shop for the best odds in order to increase their chances of winning. One of our primary goals is to never give our audience anything but the best available odds across sportsbooks.
Predatory Bovada March Madness Prop
The cringe-worthy prop Bovada offered was 50-1 odds for somebody to have a perfect bracket in 2023. It was also only a one-way market that didn’t allow anybody to bet that there wouldn’t be a perfect bracket. Many reputable sportsbooks will provide two-way markets on yes-no props.
This is now the part of the show where we remind you that the odds of a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 QUINTILLION. In case that doesn’t translate, here it is in full number form: 1 in 9,200,000,000,000,000,000. It is about 1/4 of the miles we are away from the Carina Nebula, which takes 7,600 years to reach. Now, a perfect bracket is not exactly 1 in 9.2 quintillion. That would only be the case if every game was a coin flip, but it’s at least a starting point.
Bovada’s greedy offering of 50-1 implies a 2% chance of a perfect bracket somewhere this year. So let’s take these marauding March Madness malcontents at face value for a moment. According to the American Gaming Association, roughly 70 million brackets are filled out each year. So this bet is really 50-1 odds for any of those 70 million to have a perfect bracket. So, 70 million bullets at a 1-in-9.2 quintillion chance. Maybe fewer, since some might be identical brackets.
Again, perfect bracket odds are not actually 1-in-9.2 quintillion since every game is not a true 50-50 coin flip. But yeah, 50-1? Still terrible. For what it’s worth, BetMGM is giving away $10 million if you do the unthinkable and have a perfect bracket. You won’t, but they’ll still give you $100,000 for the best bracket.
Why We Need Legal, Regulated Sports Betting
I can just picture the rapacious rookie that posted this prop somewhere across the ocean laughing like an evil movie villain at the poor souls who think they are betting a fun college basketball longshot. And these offshore sportsbooks can post these voraciously victimizing advantages because there are no laws, rules or regulations telling them they cannot.
Just today, Barstool Sportsbook operating in Massachusetts was pressured to remove “Can’t Lose” language from its app after regulators became aware of it. The concerns were some sports bettors would not understand it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek and not to be taken literally.
Whatever your opinion is of that marketing tactic, consumer protections won the day. It would never have been taken down without government oversight of these legal, American sportsbooks.
States that have not legalized sports betting yet, with politicians and lobbyists citing morality issues as reasons against it, should consider the digital age we live in. So many sports fans in your state are already betting on sports online, some not knowing the sportsbook they are using is illegal, because some offshores even have the fearlessness to put a reference to the U.S. in their name or marketing. There are no consumer protections for those citizens, no advertised outlets to help problem gamblers, and no additional tax revenue to support other worthy causes in need of funding in your state.
If elected officials in states without legal sports betting are worried about sports fans putting a few bucks on this week’s college basketball games, they should consider changing their minds. Many of those same states are busy running Powerball ads telling their citizens to buy a ticket with a jackpot offering 292 million-to-1 odds. Meanwhile, predatory unregulated sportsbooks reap from their citizens’ pockets, untaxed and unchecked. There’s no good reason for it, and this is the latest example why.
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