By John Shumway


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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In the first two months of 2019, sports bettors wagered almost $18 million at the Rivers Casino.

Now, here comes March Madness and the bettors are expected to flow into the Rivers Thursday through Sunday.

The Rivers Casino is chomping at the bit as the Road to the Final Four begins this weekend.

Photo Credit: KDKA

“It will do as much or maybe more than super bowl,” says the Rivers Casino Director of Sport Betting Jimmy Vaccaro. “In other words people buying tickets for the four days, dwarfs the super bowl.” And that is just the first round. The NCAA tournament four rounds and then the Final Four.

Bettors plan to make a party of it on the north shore reserving tables in the Sport Betting area for 200 dollars, and the seats in front of the big screens that will carry the games for $75.

As one bettor said, “It’s going to be rowdy.”

Unlike your bracket in the office that can be busted with and early loss, at the casino you can just come back and try again. Vaccaro says, “After the first round we reestablish so you have a chance to get after it again. But you won’t get the odds you get before the tournament started.”

At the betting windows or the electronic kiosk the odds are changing minute by minute and anticipated payouts are shown before you place your bet. For example a five dollar bet on Gardner-Webb to upset Virginia will get you a payout of $145. Put that same five on Virginia and you’ll get a nickel for your efforts.

March Madness is arriving on the heels of surprising response by Pittsburgh bettors since sports betting began here in mid-December. In January and February combined sports bettors put down almost 18-million dollars and Vaccaro says, “The boom is bigger than I thought it would be and we haven’t even touched the surface yet.”

That surface this weekend will be 94 X 50 and made of highly varnished hardwood.