For the first time since 1995 — and for just the third time in history — the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament head to Albany. And for the second straight year, March Madness arrives in the Empire State with a booming New York sports betting industry.
Any other time of year, these six games in Albany — and an additional three at Madison Square Garden for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight — would be off the board at sportsbooks in New York. State law prohibits college betting on games that take place in the state or involve in-state programs.
Fortunately, the state eases that restriction a bit for March Madness betting, albeit more like a new pitbull owner keeps hold of the leash while on their first walk together.
Breaking down NY sports betting regulations for March Madness
New York allows for betting on college sports, with a caveat: No wagering on events that involve any New York college team or on events that take place within state lines.
However, state regulations add this at the end:
The following shall not be considered prohibited sports events: (i) a collegiate tournament, and (ii) a sports event within such tournament so long as no New York college team is participating in that particular sports event[.]
To summarize: March Madness games taking place in New York are fair game. But NCAA Tournament games involving New York college teams remain prohibited. No betting on those individual games nor wagering on title futures for NY teams.
(Fortunately, there isn’t exactly a 2003 Syracuse in the field this year. Only two programs from the state are dancing: No. 13 Iona and No. 15 Colgate. According to FanDuel Sportsbook in New Jersey, both share the longest odds to win the title at +50,000.)
How March Madness betting looks in New York
Of the eight teams preparing for action at MVP Arena in Albany, two have actual regional ties to New York: No. 4-seed UConn and No. 13 Iona. They’re scheduled to play each other in the first round. Which means you won’t find that game’s odds on the board.
While Iona will no doubt stand as a popular upset pick nationwide — and perhaps even as a Cinderella team — the Gaels won’t get any betting action in New York. (New Jersey and Pennsylvania, however, will gladly take that bet.)
That said, five other games in Albany remain available for betting. Plus another three that will take place at Madison Square Garden for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.
First-, second-round games in Albany
Six games are set for MVP Arena in the state’s capital, which has not hosted NCAA Tournament games in 20 years. First-round contests tip off Friday with winners advancing to Sunday’s second-round games.
Midwest Regional (Kansas City)
No. 5 Miami (25-7) vs. No. 12 Drake (27-7)
No. 4 Indiana (22-11) vs. No. 13 Kent St. (28-6)
West Regional (Las Vegas)
No. 5 Saint Mary’s (26-7) vs. No. 12 VCU (27-7)
No. 4 UConn (25-8) vs. No. 13 Iona (27-7)
Of note, the only other time the tournament made its way through Albany for the opening rounds, UConn put together deep runs. In 1995, playing out of Salt Lake City and then Oakland, the Huskies advanced to the program’s third Elite Eight, where they fell to eventual champion UCLA.
Madison Square Garden set for Sweet 16, Elite Eight
This year will mark the third time March Madness rolls through Madison Square Garden for regional action. The site of the East Regional semifinals and finals could welcome in potential title threat in No. 1 Purdue as well as popular picks in ACC Tournament champion No. 5 Duke and No. 6 Kentucky.
|No. 1 Purdue (29-5) vs. No. 16 Texas Southern/FDU||No. 5 Duke (26-8) vs. No. 12 Oral Roberts (30-4)||No. 6 Kentucky (21-11) vs. No. 11 Providence (21-11)||No. 7 Michigan St. (19-12) vs. No. 10 USC (22-10)|
|No. 8 Memphis (26-8) vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic (31-3)||No. 4 Tennessee (23-10) vs. No. 13 Louisiana (26-7)||No. 3 Kansas St. (23-9) vs. No. 14 Montana St. (25-9)||No. 2 Marquette (28-6) vs. No. 15 Vermont (23-10)|
While any potential championship run would not go through MSG, UConn has enjoyed success when the tournament takes place in New York City. In 2014, playing at Madison Square Garden, UConn as the No. 7 seed rolled to the program’s fourth national championship as the second-highest seed to claim the title.
Rivers Casino Schenectady with Fast Cash Madness
Obviously, New Yorkers have nine NY sports betting apps at their disposal, making it that much easier to bet on March Madness in the biggest legal industry across the country.
On top of that, just 20 miles to the northwest of MVP Arena, sits Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady, home of the retail Rivers Sportsbook, which features 24/7 self-service kiosks. There, the casino is putting on a monthlong contest known as $20,000 March Fast Cash Madness.
Each Friday in March, five winners every hour between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. will be drawn to win a share of $1,000 cash. If any prize goes unclaimed, it will roll over to the 9 p.m. drawing.
The fine print dictates the individuals must be using their Rush Rewards card at any eligible slot or video poker machine at the time of drawing to be eligible to win. Winners then have three minutes to claim their prizes with a valid photo ID.