“Other than the Super Bowl, I would say this is the most wagered upon sporting event of the year,” said Gary Pecorello, director of Casino Marketing at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
If March is maddening, sports betters don’t want to be sane.
“It’s exciting to me. I love doing it every year,” said Cody Beard, a sports bettor from York County. “I look forward to it and look forward to making money today.”
This year’s tournament is new territory for Penn National and all of Pennsylvania.
“So, this is brand new for us, right? It’s March Madness. Last year at this time, we didn’t have the ability to accept sports wagering,” Pecorello said.
The ability to accept wagers has paid off.
“We’ve also seen, you know, a younger demographic, of course, coming out to enjoy the sports — couples, husbands and wives,” Pecorello said.
Some of these people include Beard, who said he comes to the casino most days since sports betting was made legal.
“It’s probably one of the best changes I’ve ever seen — ever,” Beard said.
His strategy is simple.
“I usually just pick my teams that I know the best. Who did I watch during the year, and then I just go from there,” Beard said.
Although Beard admits bracket busters are bound to happen.
“Go with your gut and hope something good happens,” he said.
Day one of March Madness wasn’t easy on betters playing favorites. Underdogs were the winning pick, but if you’re looking to play, Pecorello has this advice:
“The top four teams that seem to be taking the majority of the wagers are Gonzaga, Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina, with Duke at a very close fifth,” he said.
Someone has to win, someone has to lose, but the best anyone can make is to stay calm.
“Relax. I just tell them to relax and stay the course,” Beard said.