March Madness money is coming to Connecticut.
According to the American Gaming Association, 45 million people plan to bet $3.1 billion on the 2022 March Madness tournament. With sports betting now legal in Connecticut, a slice of that will be wagered here.
Drawn in by the magnificent widescreen televisions and stadium-style seating, people were already wagering at the Mohegan Sun’s Sportsbook on Tuesday.
“The chance to put a little money on the teams is fun, so I came down to put a little money on Connecticut,” said Peter Csere of Mansfield.
While you can’t bet on UCONN’s individual games, you can take the Huskies to win it all. The window for those bets is open from the time the field is set until the tip-off of the first game of the tournament.
That’s just one of the incentives expected to bring gamblers, some from other states to Connecticut during the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments.
“We can’t do it in Massachusetts, so you’re either pulling in a parking lot in Connecticut to bet or you come here to do it,” said Scott Weller of Agawam, MA.
For the first time, wagering on March Madness in Connecticut is legal and retail outlets are ready. During the tournament, the Mohegan Sun Sportsbook will have reserved seating, and most seats, which require a minimum $200 food and beverage purchase, are already taken for this weekend.
“We expect a full house Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We’ll take a few days off, and we’ll do it again the following weekend,” said Mohegan Sun President and General Manager, Jeff Hamilton.
Foxwoods Resort Casino also expects a big turnout.
“Interest in sports betting continues to expand at record levels, so it’s an exciting time for players,” said Anika Howard, CEO of Mashantucket Pequot Interactive.
Those betting on the tournament will have options, such as online apps including Fan Duel and Draft Kings to retail betting at Mohegan Sun and Foxwood’s Sportsbooks. The Connecticut Lottery also has an alliance with PlaySugarHouse.com.
“We’re all for creating a more inclusive, engaging and helpful experience via all channels, and believe that’ll draw even more people to watch, enjoy and bet on major sporting events, like March Madness,” added Howard.
The expected wagering in Connecticut during the NCAA tournament is estimated at a half-million dollars or more per day during game days.
“Looking at the how the NFL season did, I think it’s a good number, but if it came in at $1 million, I wouldn’t be surprised,’ said Hamilton.
The excitement, however, is tempered by the risk of gambling addiction. The Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling said because of the tournament’s length of three consecutive weekends, people get into trouble, especially if they start chasing their losses.
“People will think I just lost a couple thousand dollars on a game (and) keep adding to try to win that back,” said Executive Director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, Diana Goode. “It really ends up being a disaster.”
Goode has words of caution for those partaking, advising people to set limits on money and time invested.
“A lot of times, you just need to step away for a second to realize how much time you spent and how much money you spent,” said Goode.
To help those with a gambling problem, The Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling has launched a new website, responsibleplayct.org, which specifically helps people understand how to gamble more responsibly.