A Beginner’s Guide: Where to Legally Place Bets on March Madness 2014

Ironically, international bettors have many more options at their disposal than their American counterparts.

While all 67 games of March Madness will be held in the US, American sportsbetting laws are notoriously strict, and few options are available to be on basketball. Nevada is the only state in which sportsbooks can legally take bets on basketball events. In 2011 only $100 million of the entire $12 billion wagered on March Madness was placed with bookmakers licensed in Nevada. That is less than 1 percent of the total wager. The rest was wagered in office pools or with international bookies.

When it comes to betting on March Madness 2014, the options are much more plentiful for international bettors. We’ll take a look at what is legally available to Americans, Canadians, and the rest of the world.

Legal options in the US

The sportsbetting market is heavily restricted due to the passing of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 1992. This banned sportsbetting in every state except for those in which it was already legal: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. As Nevada was the only state which had basketball betting at the time, it is currently the only state in which bookies can take bets on March Madness. Delaware has fought tooth-and-nail to gain the right to legalize basketball betting but has been unsuccessful.

• Americans can only legally bet on March Madness in Nevada, and online betting sites in Nevada can only serve residents of the state

• International sportsbooks Bet365, BetVictor, Ladbrokes and Bodog accept bets on March Madness from bettors all over the world

• Less than 1 percent of the total March Madness wager in 2011 was placed with Nevada bookmakers

So if you want to legally place bets on March Madness in the US, Nevada is the place to go. The state is home to betting shops are well as the only legal online sportsbooks in America, which were launched last year. Most Vegas casinos contain sportsbooks, with Caesar’s Palace, the Hilton and the MGM Grand being the most popular. In 2011 the UK-based bookmaker William Hill purchased three Nevada betting shop chains with more than 100 total locations: Leroy’s, Lucky’s and Cal Neva. All three now offer the exact same odds, reducing the choice available to bettors.

Online sportsbooks in Nevada can only legally take bets from citizens of the state. This is a huge drag on the market and frustrating to many bettors. Some internet bookies licensed in Nevada are Bovada, SportsBetting and 5Dimes. Bovada, which is based in Canada but has a license to serve Nevadans, is far and away the most popular. Unfortunately, if you don’t live in Nevada, they aren’t available to you.

Legal options overseas

If you aren’t able to make it to Nevada, you are wondering where to legally bet on March Madness. Luckily, there are an infinite amount of international sportsbooks taking bets on March Madness. It is illegal for Americans to bet with foreign-operate sportsbooks, and in 2012 the federal government indicted Bodog CEO Calvin Ayre for illegal accepting bets from Americans. However, no bettors have been charged under federal law, and many Americans use foreign sportsbooks despite federal prohibition.

If you are an international bettor from a country with legal sportsbetting, your options are limitless. The UK-based sites Bet365 and Ladbrokes and Gibraltar-based BetVictor, which our site ranks as the best sportsbook in the world, all offer great odds for March Madness. Canadian Bodog is also one of the world’s most popular sportsbooks, accepting bets from pretty much anyone except Americans. And that is just to name a few of the most notable bookmakers.

For Canadians to legally bet on March Madness 2014

Canadian bettors express a lot of frustration with the country’s federal gambling laws, which allow only parlay betting on sporting events. This means that they must bet on three separate events simultaneously, and live betting is prohibited altogether. A bill, C-290, could legalize single-event betting but has been shuffling through parliament without any progress being made.

When it comes to March Madness, this is of little consequence. Most betting involves filling out an entire bracket prior to the start of the tournament, so does not involve single-event betting anyway. Bettors miss out on some fun live betting and prop betting action, but the main part of the market is still there. Canadian bettors can’t place wagers with Nevada-based sportsbooks, but almost every other option is on the table. There are several great domestic sportsbooks including Bodog. In addition, the UK and Gibraltar-based bookies accept bets from Canadians.

Whoever you are, there are opportunities out there

Ironically, Americans will have the hardest time legally placing bets this March. Unless you are a resident of Nevada or have the means of traveling there to visit a betting shop, there are no legal outlets for your bets. No wonder more than 30 million Americans bet in office pools each year. It is also illegal to wager with foreign sportsbooks, although many Americans do it anyway.

International bettors have a wide range of options at their disposal, as the UK and Gibraltar-based bookies as well as Bodog accept bets from residents of countries with legal sportsbetting. While Canadian bookies cannot offer live betting or prop bets, Canadians are free to use foreign betting sites.

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