Betting On Campus: Important Reminders As March Madness Arrives

Posted on March 17, 2022

The annual March Madness is here, which means people across the country (and world) are furiously working through their brackets to determine who will win the 2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.

How many brackets will be filled out? The most recent data from the American Gaming Association indicates that 36.5 million people will bet on the tournament via brackets and pools this year.

Millions of those brackets are sure to come from college campuses. And that leads to the big question: What kind of betting is legal on college campuses?

Sports betting legal for college students in 26 states – with plenty of exceptions

There are 30 states (and Washington, DC) where sports betting is legal. Among those 26 states, 22 require that you’re at least 21 years old while the remaining four put the threshold at 18.

In these states, you can bet in-person at retail sportsbooks and/or download mobile apps from sportsbook operators.

However, it’s important to remember that just because sports betting is legal in these states, it doesn’t mean that you can bet on all the teams or players in the tourney.

New York and New Jersey have bans on betting on in-state teams. How does that play out in this year’s bracket? If you place a bet in New Jersey, you won’t be able to put money on Saint Peter’s, the upstart No. 15 seed squaring off against Kentucky on Thursday.

Those same rules apply here Virginia and Washington. That means Gonzaga fans who live in-state cannot bet on the Zags.

Likewise, Virginia college students placing bets within state lines cannot bet on Virginia Tech, Univeristy of Virginia or other in-state universities

Betting pools among friends or dorms: Illegal in most states

Sportsbook betting aside, one of the most popular forms of March Madness betting is pools. For example, you and nine friends each pay $20 to enter a bracket pool via an online bracket platform. It’s a winner-take-all competition in which the prize pool goes to the person with the most picks or points at the end of the tournament, depending on the format you choose.

Other popular pools include squares, where players pay an entry fee to claim squares on a grid that assign, for example, the scores at the end of quarters, halves or the game. It’s a random contest that isn’t skill-based.

Both types of pools are illegal in most states, but there are exceptions across the country.

The state of Washington allows pool betting but only under certain conditions. You can legally put together a pool, but your contest has to meet the following requirements:

  • The board consists of 100 squares.
  • The pool is based on a single athletic event.
  • The squares are randomly assigned.
  • You can charge only $1 or less per square.

In essence, the Washington rules eliminate the possibility of rigging a pool, either by not randomizing the squares or by allowing prize pools so big that it may encourage cheating.

Another example of a state that allows pools under certain conditions is Connecticut. In that state, you’re allowed to run a pool if all the prize money goes back to participants; the person organizing the pool cannot take a cut of the money. The same goes for Vermont: Pools are legal as long as all the prize money goes to the winners.

Unsure about the rules for sports betting or pools in your state? Call your local law enforcement. At this time of the year, they’re likely well-versed in the laws regarding betting.

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