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One of the best times to be in Las Vegas is undoubtedly for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, aka March Madness.
A lot of people travel to Vegas just for the opening weekend of the tournament, which kicks off this week. The sportsbooks on the Strip are usually overflowing from the morning on Thursday, when the first games tip off, until the final buzzer on Sunday night. At some books, you even have to buy tickets just to get a seat.
The exciting thing for states around the country — they may get to experience this as well by this time next year.
Let’s start here — people who don’t bet on sports in any way, shape or form will often have a monetary interest on the NCAA tournament. Office pools are probably the most pervasive form of casual betting in the US.
Other than the Super Bowl, there’s no other sporting event more primed as a betting event in the US.
What’s all that have to do with the possibility of betting on March Madness outside of Nevada sports betting? We’re currently waiting for a decision in Murphy vs. NCAA (formerly Christie vs. NCAA), which is New Jersey’s challenge to the federal ban on sports wagering current awaiting a ruling from the US Supreme Court.
If that ban — PASPA — is struck down, Nevada will no longer have a monopoly on single-game wagering.
We have a pretty good idea of which states are almost certainly primed for sports wagering by the time March 2019 rolls around (with a New Jersey court victory):
From those four states, things get more complicated. Sports betting legislation exists in a wide swath of states, but which ones will act on them in time for 2019 is unclear.
Still, these three states seem like favorites to do something by next year.
Beyond that, the odds on sports betting laws going on the books can vary wildly. Missouri, Illinois and Rhode Island look like the next most likely states to pass a law.
The bottom line: With a favorable decision from the nation’s highest court, you’ll be able to bet legally on March Madness — outside of your office pool — in at least a few states outside of Nevada. And possibly many more.