Men’s NCAA Tournament a popular draw for sports books

Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 7:07 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - It’s here.

One of the biggest days of the year for sports fans: the first round of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.

No tourney in 2020 and fanless competition last year means the 2022 slate of games is as special as ever.

“We’re back in the casino,” said Atlantis Resort Casino Spa’s Corporate Director of Race and Sports, Marc Nelson. “There’s no more mask mandate. Everybody is showing up. It’s a much more fun atmosphere.”

The handle - also known as the amount of money wagered by bettors - is up this year, according to Nelson.

People come from all over to try their luck. Jeff Snyder, Ryan Hildebrand, and their friends make an annual trip to Reno from Seattle every March.

“Making some money, hopefully. Losing more, probably. I don’t know. It’s always a good time,” Snyder said of his experience.

Hildebrand added his dad owns a place in Reno which makes the trip convenient.

“This experience is something we look forward to every year.”

The group had to sweat out a couple early morning bets. There’s already been some bracket busters with lower seeded teams taking down opponents ranked higher.

For Nelson there’s always some unexpected results.

“If we lose a couple big games early then it’s all good. Customers are here. They’re here to gamble and they’re going to keep playing. If they cash some tickets, which we want them to cash some tickets, put it back through the window and have fun for the whole weekend,” said Nelson.

The first round of games ends Friday.

The Round of 32 tips off Saturday and Sunday before continuing through the bracket next week.

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