March Madness is the largest long-term sporting event when it comes to betting, and at the Grand Sierra Resort, they expect the crowd there to bet as much here as they do for any game. William Hill Race and Sports Book area manager Ben Knutson told us, "You add the first weekend of March Madness, altogether for the four days, and we come pretty close to beating the Super Bowl." And this year, he says it might make Nevada history when the money's all added up: "I believe that we certainly could be talking record-breaking territory."
Local bettor Ron Rice is doing his part. He's betting on Oregon tomorrow, but came for the party today: "I love the March Madness just because of the enjoyment of the fast-pace in the game of basketball!"
Jerry Mendoza put a bunch of green on the line. He's hoping to catch a happy return tomorrow with Michigan: "The points are pretty low, money line is reachable so $100, $200 bet...perfect for me."
Mark Odom is spreading the wealth...he's betting an assortment for tomorrow: "I've got money on Arkansas, I've got money on Miami. I want to see Oregon get beat!"
But Kurt Swanson is stumped. His favorite team? "Well...Washington, but they're nowhere close to the tournament this year. But it’s fun to come and just watch all the games."
Whether they place $20 or hundreds of dollars, Reno will win. The sportsbook folks we talked to say they could not have scripted this March Madness any better. And the payoff should be the biggest March Madness ever. Knutson told us, "Now that all the games are being televised, people plan vacations around it...the college guys all get together and go and cheer for their alma mater."
Are the folks at Grand Sierra Resort betting the right way, on the right teams?" Knutson diplomatically told us, “We I think yeah, 50% of them are betting on the right team."
In last year's March Madness, more than $337 million was wagered in Nevada. Getting more than that this year would be huge. But we just might make it.