With the start of March Madness still more than 24 hours away, a bettor in Pennsylvania has already hit it big on college basketball’s most frenetic month.
FanDuel sportsbook announced on Monday a massive payout on a 15-leg parlay that nearly made its winner a millionaire after investing $604. Placed at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, the wager returned $998,453, making it the biggest payout in the venue’s history.
The parlay included three NBA games, three NHL games, and nine college basketball games.
One of the craziest parlays you will EVER see…
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) March 13, 2021
FanDuel and other Pennsylvania sportsbooks will be offering unique specials to those wagering in the Keystone State this week, with everything from futures bets on the winners to specials on upsets. Three Pennsylvania universities that have advanced to the Elite Eight over the last 25 years — Temple, Pitt, and Saint Joseph’s — did not receive a bid to this year’s tournament.
Below is a comprehensive breakdown of promotions, betting trends, and unique offerings available to Pennsylvania bettors for this year’s March Madness.
Barstool Sports/Penn National
The Big Ten got a record nine teams into this year’s edition of March Madness, and Barstool Sports is offering boosted odd for any that get to the Final Four. Unfortunately for Pennsylvanians, Penn State wasn’t one of those teams. If that Big Ten promotion doesn’t appeal, Barstool is offering a few other opportunities, including the possibility of winning bonuses up to 8X the bet amount, depending on the number of buzzer beaters in the tournament. Barstool is also offering $75 added on four different futures bets for new signups, and multiple prop bets.
The sportsbook is offering its $2 Million Bracket Challenge in every state where BetMGM is active except Nevada. An entrant will capture a $2 million prize if he or she completes a perfect bracket. In the event that no one correctly predicts all 67 games, the entrant or entrants with the top performance will be awarded a share of $100,000.
Nationally, BetMGM has taken the most bets (both by handle and count) on Gonzaga. Two teams that did not make the tournament, Duke and Louisville, received the highest betting volume of any programs in Division I.
BetMGM is offering a myriad of prop bets in additions to futures and straight bets. Among the props are Gonzaga or Illinois vs. The Field; any 16-seed to beat a 1-seed; and conference of the winning team. In terms of specials, BetMGM has several, but the one that stands out is “Buzzer Beater Insurance” — if your team loses on a shot in the last five seconds, you’ll get your bet back (up to $20).
Villanova, the 2016 and 2018 national champion, appeared headed for a top seed last month when the Wildcats opened the season with a 13-2 record. But a season-ending injury to All-Big East point guard Collin Gillespie and an ankle injury suffered by sophomore guard Justin Moore have sent the Wildcats into a tailspin.
At BetMGM, 5-seed Villanova is a 4.5-point favorite over 12-seed Winthrop in a Round of 64 matchup. BetMGM is also offering a prop on the winning margin of Friday’s matchup in Indianapolis.
- Villanova by 1-5 points: +340
- Villanova by 6-10 points: +310
- Villanova by 11-15 points: +400
- Villanova by 16-20 points: +625
- Villanova by 21-25 points: +1100
- Villanova by more than 25: +1500
Three teams from the East Coast — Villanova, Syracuse, and North Carolina — are scheduled to play on Friday night. A 3-team parlay on all three teams will pay +475 at BetMGM.
BetRivers will reveal a “Mystery Madness” promotion every day of the tournament. On Wednesday was reporting that the three most bet on games to date in Pennsylvania are No. 5 Villanova vs. No. 12 Winthrop, No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 12 Georgetown, and No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 Syracuse. The Villanova-Winthrop game is so far the most bet game in terms of bet count, and has the second-highest handle in Pennsylvania for BetRivers. The highest handle game is No. 8 UNC vs. No. 9 Wisconsin.
The biggest bet placed with BetRivers so far is $5,000 on 1-seed Baylor on the moneyline (-10000) to beat 16-seed Hartford.
Bettors can take advantage of myriad prop bets via BetRivers, including more than 5.5 games going into overtime during the entire tournament; if Baylor, Gonzaga, and Michigan all get to the Final Four; and if Baylor or Iowa score the most points in the tournament. BetRivers is also offering bet boosts on certain games and props.
Caesars Sportsbook at Harrah’s Philadelphia will offer lines on March Madness for the first time since William Hill shareholders approved Caesars Entertainment’s proposed $3.7 billion acquisition of the U.K. sports betting company in November.
In terms of dollars wagered at William Hill books nationwide, Villanova ranks sixth among tournament participants with about 4% of the overall handle. Gonzaga leads all teams at 20%, followed by Michigan (14%), Baylor (11%), Illinois (7%), and Iowa (5%). On the futures market, Michigan represents William Hill’s largest liability, according to William Hill US Director of Trading Nick Bogdanovich. William Hill has taken a $30,000 wager on Michigan at 8/1. A few days later, the same bettor placed a $30,000 wager on the Wolverines, this time at 5/1. The company also faces six-figure liabilities on UConn, San Diego State, and BYU.
In addition, William Hill has odds of 10/1 on Villanova to win the South Region. The Wildcats have the sixth-best odds among teams in the region, behind Baylor (+175), Ohio State (+300), Arkansas (+750), Purdue (+850), and Texas Tech (+850). Baylor has the highest odds of all four 1-seeds at William Hill to make the Final Four. In total, eight teams in the region have odds of 20/1 or lower to reach the Final Four, the most of any region.
South Region Odds:
-Baylor got a rough draw. 9 seed Wisconsin is #10 KP, UNC #28.
-Arkansas facing toughest 14 seed in field in all likelihood.
-Villanova odds may be inflated, as key player Collin Gillespie is out.
-Purdue only 72% to beat a 13 seed…which is pretty low. pic.twitter.com/FVDrWSAl0Q
— Will Warren (@statsbywill) March 14, 2021
Caesars Entertainment received federal antitrust clearance for the proposed combination with William Hill in December, when the company announced the early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. The companies are set to complete the transaction on April 1, pending approval from an English High Court. A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for March 30.
DraftKings reported that it had taken a $10,000 bet on Gonzaga to win the tournament through its Pennsylvania platform. The wager would pay out approximately $45,000 should the Bulldogs cut down the nets on April 5. The company is also offering its Millionaire Bracket, along with odds boosts on parlays, for new bettors, and for the First Four game between Michigan State and UCLA on Thursday.
In Pennsylvania, the most bet conference by handle and bet count is the Big Ten. Iowa, which lost in the Big Ten semifinals to Illinois, has the highest handle of any team in the nation. Another top Big Ten team, Michigan, has garnered the the most bets at DraftKings. Those numbers also reflect national trends for the sportsbook.
FanDuel’s biggest nationwide promotion, which is currently available in Pennsylvania, is its “Spread the Love” promotion for Michigan State vs. UCLA. Under the promotion, FanDuel will move the line one point in MSU’s favor for every 2,500 bets placed.
On Monday, FanDuel shared that Villanova is among the Top 10 teams to win March Madness by bet count and in terms of money wagered. Villanova, the 2016 and 2018 national champion, was ranked eighth by bet count to win it all, behind leaders Gonzaga, Michigan, and Illinois. In terms of total handle, Villanova also ranked No. 8, behind Michigan, Illinois, and Gonzaga.
FanDuel is offering myriad March Madness specials in Pennsylvania and across the country. Among the wagers available are “Will a 12-seed beat a 5-seed?” “Will a First Four team get to the Round of 16?” and how many No. 1 seeds will get into the Final Four.
Gonzaga represented the most-bet team (226%) in terms of handle for FOX Bet as of Tuesday, and Pennsylvania bettors were falling in line, as the Zags represented 26.4% of wagers, followed by Illinois (12.5%), Baylor (9.5%), and Michigan (9.2%).
In addition to straight bets, futures, and props, FOX Bet is offering its “Super 6” free-to-play promotion on every day there are tournament games beginning March 19. The promotion guarantees a $1,000 prize on all days except on the day of the national championship, when the prize bumps up to $5,000.
FOX Bet is also offering an iCasino cross promotion in which a patron will receive a $5 free sports or casino bet for every $10 wager on blackjack. For sports bettors, FOX Bet is also offering a $10 free bet for any bet on a basketball game until March 17. Then from March 18 – April 4, bettors can earn a $10 free bet every day by placing a qualifying NCAA tournament wager ($10+, -200 min odds). FOX Bet users also have chance to make four times their bet (up to $10) if both Michigan and Baylor get to the Elite Eight.
Matt Rybaltowski contributed to this article.