Are March Madness brackets legal? NCAA Tournament 2024

Mar 14, 2024

March Madness is just around the corner, which for millions of fans in the U.S. means that it’s almost time to fill out a bracket. Once the seeding and teams have been announced on Selection Sunday, it’s time to create a bracket - or several - in hopes of constructing a perfect bracket or just earning more points than others in the pool. 

But is making a March Madness bracket legal? Here is all you need to know about March Madness brackets before the NCAA tournament starts.

Guide to making a March Madness bracket

There are 68 teams that will get a shot at being crowned National Champions. To make a March Madness bracket, you need to fill out and try to predict each game in every round of the tournament from the “First Four” down to the National Championship game. In total, 67 games will be played in March Madness. It sounds simple, but in a tournament famous for cinderella stories and shocking upsets, nobody has ever filled out a perfect March Madness bracket, according to the NCAA. 

If you’re interested in making a March Madness bracket, there are plenty of websites to use. Some of the most popular include ESPN, CBS, and Yahoo. To fill out the bracket, simply pick the team you think will win each game and how far they will go in the tournament. The rounds of the tournament that you will need to fill out are the First Four, Round of 64, Round of 32, Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, and the National Championship.

If you think it will be easy, think again. The NCAA estimates that a person filling out the bracket by guessing or flipping a coin has a 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 chance of getting the entire bracket correct. However, if you have some college basketball knowledge, your chances increase to 1 in 120.2 billion (NCAA). 

Legality of March Madness brackets

March Madness brackets attract a wide range of people, from college basketball fanatics to casual fans to the person who knows nothing about basketball but wants to create a bracket. It’s estimated that 60 to 100 million brackets are filled out each year (Sports Illustrated). But creating a bracket does raise a question - is it legal? 

Yes, March Madness brackets are perfectly legal. It’s also free as ESPN, CBS, Yahoo, or whatever website you choose doesn’t require payment to fill out a bracket. That means you can create one, two, or several brackets at no cost. It’s very common to invite friends and family members to compete against each other in a group and see who can create the most accurate bracket.

However, creating a bracket challenge with friends, family, colleagues, or others that requires an entry fee and prize money is not legal. Technically, pools like that are illegal because of three elements: consideration, reward, and chance (Forbes). While it’s unlikely the state will find out about the pool or prosecute participants, it’s technically not legal and therefore carries some risk.

Are March Madness brackets a form of sports betting?

No, March Madness brackets are not a form of sports betting IF they are free (no entry fee). As long as you’re not wagering money on the games or your bracket, you are not sports betting.

However, many bracket pools do involve an entry fee - usually a small one - that goes into a prize pool awarded to the top entrant(s) who earn the most points. When brackets involve an entry fee, it does become a form of sports gambling. Any activity that requires risking money and making sports predictions in hopes of winning more money is a type of sports wagering, and therefore it carries risks. The rush of rooting for outcomes in games while hoping that they result in a monetary gain for you can lead to problem-gambling-related issues. 

Betting on March Madness

Along with creating a bracket, a lot of people will choose to bet on March Madness games. In fact, it’s estimated that roughly 1 in 5 individuals in the United States will bet on the NCAA Tournament (per UB Law). That ranges from “futures” bets before the tournament starts to spread, money line, and totals (over/under) bets on individual games during it. Last year, it was estimated that $15.5 billion was wagered on March Madness in the U.S. (Statista).

How to bet responsibly on the 2024 March Madness NCAA Tournament

With 68 teams, dozens of games and several rounds, it can be easy to get enveloped by the excitement and constant craziness of March Madness. The tournament lasts a few weeks and usually has many games each day, as the country’s top teams battle to advance to the next round. That means it’s important to bet responsibly on March Madness and not bet more money just because there are more games than usual to wager on.

Tips to bet responsibly during the tournament include:

  • only betting what you can afford to lose

  • setting a limit for how many games you will bet on each day or week

  • never chasing your losses

  • never gambling under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Remember, March Madness is nearly unpredictable and usually full of upsets. Don’t chase your losses and try to break even on the day because it’s a long tournament, and you need to manage your bankroll, which can be thought of as a betting budget. Plus, it’s already hard enough to try and predict the outcome of a game with a clear mind, so don’t make it harder on yourself by gambling under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Avoiding Gambling Addiction

Warning signs of Problem Gambling

It’s also important to know the warning signs of gambling addiction, in case betting becomes an issue for you or someone you know. While just as serious as any other addiction, a gambling problem can much be more difficult to spot, since there aren’t any physical signs of it. Some indications that could be noticed by a friend or family member include skipping social events to gamble, lying about gambling losses, asking for money to bet with, and even stealing to get money to wager.

There are plenty of other warning signs too, like trouble at work from gambling too much, not being able to pay bills due to gambling losses, spending more time at a casino, and others. A gambling addiction can cause mental and financial problems, so it's important to know the warning signs.

Gambling Addiction help and resources

If you or someone you know does develop a gambling disorder, there are specialized resources available to help. Birches Health offers online counseling that is 100% confidential and caters to your schedule. You don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home - the care sessions are completely virtual. Assessments are free, so if you or a loved one may be in need of help, Birches Health is a great starting point.

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


The absurd odds of a perfect NCAA bracket

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

The Legal Risk Of Operating NCAA Tournament Pools - Forbes


Total amount bet on March Madness US 2023 | Statista

Managing Gambling Addiction Relapses

Apr 12, 2024


U.S. Sports Betting Statistics April 2024: Legalization, growth & addiction rising

Apr 12, 2024


My Mom Has a Gambling Addiction: What to Do

Apr 8, 2024


Understanding In-Network and Out-of-Network Providers for Behavioral Addictions

Apr 1, 2024


Has America become a “society of gamblers”?

Mar 28, 2024


How Can I Stop My Child From Gambling

Mar 27, 2024


Birches Health Partners with BettorEdge

Mar 20, 2024


Birches Health Announces Partnership with SaharaBets

Mar 19, 2024


Gambling Addiction Rates Hit All-Time High in U.S.

Mar 13, 2024


Signs of Teen Gambling

Mar 13, 2024


Free Gambling Addiction Treatment

Feb 29, 2024


SNL Sports Betting sketch spotlights real Gambling Addiction issues 

Feb 26, 2024


New U.S. Gambling Stats: Record figures as Addiction also grows

Feb 22, 2024


What will be the social costs of increased gambling? Who will pay them?

Feb 19, 2024


Is it Legal to Bet on the Daytona 500?

Feb 16, 2024


Media Takes Note of America's Increase in Problem Gambling

Feb 15, 2024


What are the Psychological Effects of Gambling?

Jan 31, 2024


Is Day Trading Gambling?

Feb 11, 2024


What are the Different Types of Gamblers?

Feb 12, 2024


Understanding Behavior Disorders

Jan 23, 2024


The Gambling Addiction Recovery, Investment, And Treatment (GRIT) Act

Jan 14, 2024


What is the Cycle of Addiction and How to Break It

Jan 9, 2024


I Lost All My Money Gambling. What Now?

Dec 29, 2023


Your 2024 New Year's Resolution: Stop Sports Betting and Online Gambling

Dec 24, 2023


Why Do Addicts Relapse?

Dec 20, 2023


Is Gambling a Sin?

Dec 18, 2023


Staging a Gambling Intervention for a Loved One

Dec 13, 2023


Signs of Gambling Addiction in a Spouse

Nov 30, 2023


Gambling and Divorce: Statistics and Information

Nov 26, 2023


What is DFS Gambling?

Nov 19, 2023


Addiction Specialist: Helping You Overcome Addiction

Nov 18, 2023


Exploring the Different Types of Gambling

Nov 8, 2023


Technology Addiction: Signs and Treatment

Oct 30, 2023


Is Options Trading Gambling?

Oct 23, 2023


Gambling Addiction and Treatment

Oct 16, 2023


Sex Addiction Treatment and Therapy Options

Oct 14, 2023


Signs of Gambling Addiction

Oct 7, 2023


Is the Stock Market Gambling?

Sep 25, 2023


Tips for Finding a Gambling Rehab Center

Sep 24, 2023


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Pathological Gambling

Sep 23, 2023


What Causes Porn Addiction?

Sep 18, 2023


Video Game Addiction

Sep 16, 2023


Porn Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Sep 11, 2023


Gambling Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms & Signs

Aug 29, 2023


How to Stop Online Gambling

Aug 27, 2023


Does Medicare Cover Gambling Rehab?

Aug 19, 2023


Gambling and Dopamine

Aug 12, 2023


Porn Addiction Counseling

Aug 7, 2023


Is Fantasy Football Gambling?

Jul 24, 2023


Signs of a Day Trading Problem

Jul 19, 2023


Why is Gambling Addictive?

Jul 18, 2023


The Arizona Lottery and Gambling

Jul 16, 2023


Is Poker Gambling?

Jul 15, 2023


Is Crypto Gambling?

Jul 14, 2023


Gambling and Sports Betting Among College Students

Jul 8, 2023


Updates made to gambling disorder across the DSM-III, DSM-IV, DSM-5

Updates Made to Gambling Disorder Clinical Criteria Between DSM-III, DSM-IV, and DSM-5

Jul 8, 2023

Cara Anderson

Combatting Gambling and Alcohol Addiction

Jun 30, 2023


Medication for Gambling Addiction

Jun 27, 2023


The Seven Types of Gamblers: Are You One of Them?

Jun 25, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

10 Questions to Ask If You Think Your Loved One Has a Gambling Problem

Jun 24, 2023

Cara Anderson

Las Vegas - often called the gambling capital of the world

Exploring the History of Gambling in the US

Jun 17, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Gambling Treatment in Arizona

Jun 15, 2023


Voluntary Self Exclusion to Stop Online Gambling

Jun 15, 2023

Cara Anderson

Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover Gambling Treatment?

Jun 13, 2023


Gambling Addiction Hotline

Jun 5, 2023


How to Stop Gambling

Jun 1, 2023


Can Gambling Addiction Be Cured?

May 31, 2023


problem gambler worried about addiction

Why Is Gambling So Addictive?

May 30, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Medication that can cause gambling

Abilify and Compulsive Gambling

May 26, 2023

Cara Anderson

A man who has regained control of his life by stopping gambling and online sports betting

How to Stop Gambling: Strategies for Regaining Control

May 21, 2023

Cara Anderson

This man stopped gambling by recognizing his online sports betting problem

How to Stop Gambling and Save Money

May 18, 2023

Cara Anderson

People celebrating being free of a gambling addiction

How to Help Someone with a Gambling Addiction

May 16, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

The Growing Phenomenon of Cryptocurrency Addiction: What Traders Need to Know About Crypto Addiction

Cryptocurrency Addiction

May 9, 2023

Tobias Jackson

The stock market graph of a day trader who has a day trading addiction

How Day Trading Can Create a Dangerous Addiction

May 4, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Younger individuals gathered around a computer talking about a gambling addiction meme

How Addictive Memes Have Fueled Problem Gamblers

May 2, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Man in the middle of taking a Do I have a Gambling Problem Quiz

Clinical Screening Tools and Quizzes to Answer the Question: "Do I have a Gambling Problem?"

May 1, 2023

Tobias Jackson

Insurance paperwork that Birches clients do not need to go through as Birches Health handles all administrative and payment matters for them!

Insurance Coverage for Gambling Addiction in 2023

Apr 29, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Couple hugging as the man has a gambling addiction and the woman, his loved one, is able to support him through it.

Helping a Loved One with a Gambling Addiction

Apr 27, 2023

Cara Anderson

Man actualizing self care and manifesting his recovery journey from problem gambling and gambling addiction

Self Care for Problem Gamblers

Apr 26, 2023

Cara Anderson

Bad effects of glamorization of gambling in the media in films, tv shows, and podcasts

Glamorized Gambling and What To Be Aware Of

Apr 24, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Therapist offering a problem gambler gambling addiction counseling and treatment

What is Problem Gambling?

Apr 20, 2023

Elliott Rapaport