Foreign Imports: Top International Players in March Madness 2014

A huge portion of the money wagered on March Madness 2014 will come from outside of the US, and so do some of the top of the top players.

Of the $12 billion wagered annually on March Madness, about $9 billion are taken by sportsbooks not licensed to operate in the United States. While some of this money is accounted for by American bettors using foreign-operated sportsbooks through paypal accounts, a large portion of it originates from outside of the US.

Sportsbetting has long been a big business in Canada and Europe. It has recently become bigger in Asia , Australia and Africa as well. Part of what drives foreign interest in March Madness is the presence of foreign players. The NCAA has always attracted much of the globe’s top talent, with more high-profile international players meaning more international interest and betting.

We’ll take a look at some of the top international players in March Madness 2014, paying special attention to their country of origin and its relation to the sportsbetting market this March.

Joel Embiid of Cameroon

• The majority of money wagered this March Madness will go to bookmakers outside of the US, and much of it will be placed by international bettors

• Some of this year’s top players come from Canada, Cameroon, Nigeria and Australia

• Canadian’s can only legally make parlay bets, which is perfect for March Madness as bettors usually fill out an entire bracket at once
Star center for the Kansas Jayhawks, the 19-year old import from Cameroon known as Joel Embiid has rocked the basketball world this year. Scouts are salivating over his talent, with some comparing him to Hall of Famer and fellow-African Hakeem Olajuwon. If Kansas has a chance at winning the national championship, it is largely on the strong back of Embiid.

Embiid hails from Cameroon, a country in which sportsbetting is extremely popular. Online betting appears to be legal there, and many locals place bets with foreign sportsbooks. Especially given that their native son is competing in March Madness for one of the highest-profile schools, you can expect Cameroonians to make extra wagers with international sportsbooks.

Andrew Wiggins of Canada

This looks like a match made in sportsbetting heaven. One of the best players playing for one of the best schools coming from a country obsessed with sportswagering. Andrew Wiggins came to the University of Kansas by way of Ontario, and has been one of the best players in the country all season long. Many scouts have called him the most talented player ever to come out of Canada (which is a bold statement, because future Hall of Famer Steve Nash also came from north of the border).

Canadians bet on March Madness in large numbers regardless, but the participation of Wiggins certainly can’t hurt. Currently Canadians can only place parlay bets (betting on three separate events simultaneously). While critics argue that this pushes Canadians to use foreign online bookmakers, these laws shouldn’t much affect betting on March Madness. This is because most betting comes in the form of filling out a complete bracket rather than wagering on single-events anyway. As in years past, hundreds of millions of dollars will be wagered by Canadians.

Anthony Drmic of Australia

Anthony Drmic came to Boise State by way of Australia, and while the Cowboys are not yet certain to participate in March Madness this year, he is such a good player that we couldn’t leave him off the list. Drmic has been the top player for Boise State for three years running and has a chance to follow other Australians like Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills and Steve Adams to the NBA.

Expect Australians to bet on March Madness in large numbers this year. The land down under is home to some of the world’s biggest gamblers, with a report by the Economist showing that in 2010 Australian’s lost more money gambling per capita than any other country on earth. Combine the penchant for betting with the exploding popularity of basketball, and we have a recipe for major money coming into the pockets of bookies. Australian gambling laws prohibit live betting and prop betting, but besides that the market is very unrestricted. The major Australian bookie Canbet will be taking bets on March Madness, and Bet365 and BetFair will also be very active there.

Melvin Ejim of Nigeria

Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim is a lock to take his team to the big dance this year. He leads the Cyclones in both scoring and rebounding, putting up ridiculous statistics of 48 points and 18 rebounds in a game against Texas Christian University last week. We will most certainly see him playing in the NBA next year. Ejim hails from Nigeria, the same country which produced all-time great Hakeem Olajuwon.

Nigerians love sportsbetting. While most of them prefer to place bets on football, basketball is becoming increasingly popular. Nigeria does issue licensed to online sportsbooks, but regulations are unclear and often not followed. As the country only has a few licensed betting sites millions of Nigerians place bets with unlicensed or foreign-operated bookmakers. With growing popularity of online betting and basketball, and well as the presence of Ejim in this year’s tournament, we expect Nigeria to provide a lucrative market for bookmakers this March.

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