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Tennesseans to legally place bets on NCAA tourney championship for first time

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Posted at 8:10 PM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 21:22:48-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For the first time in Tennessee, you can now legally bet on the NCAA men’s basketball championship.

You can catch the game Monday at 8:20 p.m. CT. on NewsChannel5.

March Madness has already crowned one champion and on Monday, all eyes will be locked in on Gonzaga and Baylor. Action on the big screen also means millions wagered in Tennessee for who will take home the title.

You can only wager online or through any one of the four active sports betting apps now available in Tennessee. Even with options more limited than in other states, people wagered more in Tennessee last month than 10 of the other 21 states with established sports gambling.

Thad Thomas recently moved to Tennessee from Georgia where sports gambling is not legal. He’s not a big gambler, but he sees the appeal of making big money with a few simple clicks.

“I think it’s something people have been anticipating for a while. With Tennessee having the lead on it in the Southeast, I think more and more states will start gravitating towards that,” Thomas said.

On average, Tennesseans have wagered $175 million in the first four months of sports gambling. March numbers haven’t been released, but some anticipate those numbers will surpass anything we’ve seen to date because of March Madness.

The American Gaming Association says about 47 million Americans bet on games during the tournament.

Cale Carver was not one of them, but he has bet in the past. He says this year he’s trying to focus more on the game, knowing these apps can easily take up all your attention and your money.

“It’s up and down, up and down. You seem to win a lot at first. Maybe I won a big game and I’m excited, but then I’m already betting on another one because it’s right there before I can cash out,” Carver said.

Others who chose not to go on camera say this is the only real betting they will do all year. With many offices closed, those typical office brackets aren’t around. Instead, some are turning to apps as a way to wager what they would have among their colleagues.

Gonzaga is a 4.5 point favorite going into the matchup with Baylor. With a win tonight, Gonzaga will have gone undefeated for an entire season. Something that hasn’t happened at that level since Indiana University in 1976.