How to bet on March Madness responsibly and legally

Mar 18, 2024

College basketball takes center stage in March for one of the most-watched sporting events of the year. For just a few weeks, 68 college basketball teams will fight to become National Champions. March Madness also happens to be one of the most bet-on tournaments as billions of dollars are expected to be wagered by Americans in 2024. Before the tournament can start, it’s important to remember how to bet responsibly. Here’s a brief summary of March Madness and how to gamble responsibly. 

How to bet on March Madness

Legal considerations

The majority of the states in America require users to be 21 years old to legally gamble either in-person or online. With that said, the minimum age to legally gamble depends on the state that you are located in. Some states require the user to only be 18 years old, but it’s not common. Those states include Montana, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. But remember - you must follow the rules of the state you are in. For example, that means an 18-year-old from Rhode Island cannot legally gamble in New York. 

It is legal to bet on sports in over three-quarters of the states in the United States. Just this week, North Carolina became the latest state to legalize online sports gambling. There are 38 states that have legalized sports gambling in some form, but only 30 states have legalized online sports betting. Here are all 30 states that have legalized online gambling:

Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Nine states have legalized only in-person retail sports betting, and they include:

Delaware, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin. 

That means 12 states have not legalized in-person or online sports gambling, and they are:

California, Texas, Idaho, Utah, Minnesota, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Alaska and Hawaii.

How to bet responsibly on the 2024 NCAA Tournament

Only the Super Bowl is bet on more than March Madness each year. In 2023, it was estimated that $15.5 billion was wagered on March Madness. That was a massive step up from the $3.1 billion wagered in 2022 (Statista). With millions of Americans gambling on the tournament, it’s important to remember to gamble responsibly. Here are just a few tips to stay smart while betting on March Madness this year.

  • Never bet more than you can lose

  • Limit the amount of time in a casino or on an online sportsbook

  • Set a limit for how much you gamble daily, weekly, monthly

  • Never chase your losses

  • Don’t gamble money you don’t have

  • Abstain from betting when in a highly emotional state (angry, lonely, sad)

  • Avoid gambling under the influence of drugs and alcohol

  • Take regular breaks from gambling

These tips are a few ways to avoid developing a gambling addiction. Although there are nearly 70 games during the tournament, it’s important to remember to bet responsibly and not get sucked into betting more money just because there are more games. 

March Madness brackets

One of the most popular activities during the tournament is to create a March Madness bracket. Creating a bracket entails attempting to predict the entire tournament. However, according to the NCAA, nobody has ever made a perfect bracket. Still, 60 to 100 million brackets are made each year (Sports Illustrated). People who create a bracket range from college basketball fanatics to people who don’t watch sports but just want to make a bracket.

Filling out a bracket is a great way to be involved in the tournament without having any financial interest. It gives you a reason to root for certain teams and scenarios and not have to worry about losing money since creating a bracket is completely free. Following Selection Sunday, websites like ESPN, Yahoo, and CBS will provide people to create one or several brackets at no cost, and it’s completely legal.

March Madness brackets are legal and free to make, but they are also potentially dangerous. Having a rooting interest in the tournament can cause a feeling of excitement that the person might want to feel again after the madness. That means the bracket could be a gateway to sports betting and a gambling addiction in the future.

However, creating a bracket pool yourself and having an entry-free with prize money is not technically legal. That’s why it’s best to avoid entry-free bracket pools and stick to the legal ones. 

Avoiding Gambling Addiction

Warning signs of Problem Gambling

A gambling addiction is a serious problem that must be taken very seriously. Similar to other addictions, it can cause financial and mental problems. However, unlike other addictions, a gambling problem can be hard to recognize. Some of the signs could be more difficult to spot, but here are just a few of the most common warning signs: lying about gambling losses, ignoring events to gamble, spending more time at a casino or online sportsbook, and asking friends and family for money to gamble.

With that said, there are other warning signs that are more severe and easy to spot. These signs include stealing things to fund their gambling addiction, getting fired from a job for gambling too much, and failing to pay bills because of gambling losses. Although these signs might be easier to notice, every sign is just as dangerous to lead to a gambling addiction. 

Gambling Addiction help and resources

Fortunately, help is just a few clicks away. Birches Health is dedicated to helping people fight their gambling addiction with confidential treatment, virtual care, and access to a 24/7 care team. With tailored intake and outgoing care, 90% of patients feel an increase in quality of life following Birches treatment. And the best part is most patients pay $0 out of pocket. 

If you believe you or someone else could benefit from the Birches Health offerings, please call (833) 483-3838 or email 


Total amount bet on March Madness US 2023 | Statista

Has Anyone Ever Had a Perfect March Madness Bracket? - Sports Illustrated

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