The NCAA basketball tournament is called March Madness for a reason. With four days of non-stop basketball action, it turns non-sports fans into hopeful experts. Across the country, workers blindly fill out brackets in hopes of predicting the winners of the 63 games that it takes to crown a champion (and to capture the fruits of their office pool). Most brackets drown in failure within days. But it’s that “anything can happen” atmosphere of the NCAA tournament that makes it so popular. Even the President of the United States fills out a bracket yearly.
This year’s tournament starts with two play-in games March 15-16. The real fun begins at 9 a.m. March 17 and March 18 when 16 games will be played each day. That’s followed by eight more games daily March 19-20. Regional games take place March 24-27 with the Final Four taking place April 2 in Houston. The title game is April 4.
For many basketball fans, March Madness becomes a four-day vacation. Northern Nevada casinos are filled with locals and tourists alike rooting for their favorite schools to advance in the tournament.
While there’s no shortage of places to watch the games, several casinos are turning March Madness into an event. We have listed below some of the best places to watch the games. This list is not all-inclusive.
Bettors will have numerous wagering options, from individual games to predicting the champion before the tournament begins. Most sports books offer in-play wagering, as well as parlay cards exclusive to its property. Check out your favorite sports book for more information, various betting options and lines.
Note: The deadline to enter all listed contests is 9 a.m. March 17 unless noted otherwise. Parlay cards and individual game wagers can be made at any time.
Atlantis: Win a share of $10,000 in the March Mayhem Pick ‘em Challenge. Swipe your casino club card for free entries. Watch the game for free in the Sports Book Party Zone, which offers food and drink specials. Or enjoy the viewing party in the Grand Ballroom for $25, which includes light hors d’oeuvres, two drink tickets and prize giveaways. Details: 775-824-4467.
Baldini’s: Guests can win $100,000 for correctly picking winners in 60 of 63 games in the Bracket Buster Challenge. The contest is free and awards $2,000 for the most correct picks during the tournament. Second place pays $500 and third pays $250. Cash prizes also are awarded for the most correct picks after the first weekend. Go to baldinis.pooltracker.com/tourney to enter. Visit the sports book for more promotions. Details: 775-358-0116.
Circus Circus: The casino offers a wall of high-definition screens, food and drink specials and prize giveaways. Details: 775-329-0711.
Eldorado: Guests have several options to enjoy at March Mania March 17-19. A $50 per day option offers unlimited drinks on the casino floor, a $10 food voucher and a souvenir hat – or pay $130 for all three days. For $40 daily, guests can enjoy unlimited drinks with specials at a casino floor food station. The games will be shown on every TV – both large and gigantic – in the casino. Details: 775-356-3300.
Grand Sierra: The Grand Hoops party takes place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. March 17-18 in the Lex Nightclub. Admission is $29.99 daily, which includes two drinks, an all-you-can-eat stadium buffet and betting stations. Details: 775-789-2000.
Harrah’s Reno: March Mayhem starts at 8 a.m. March 16 through March 20 in The Stage at The Zone. Food and drink specials start at 11 a.m. and run through 7 p.m. daily. Raffle tickets for the daily grand prize at 5 p.m. are awarded with every $5 alcoholic drink bought. The party also includes promotional giveaways and appearances by the Jack Honey/Jack Daniels Girls at 5 p.m. March 18-19. Admission is free. Details: 775-786-3232.
Hobey’s: A $500 prize will be awarded to the person with the most correct winners in the casino’s bracket contest. Club members can pick up two free brackets daily. All brackets must be turned in by 7 a.m. March 17. Prizes will be given to top five finishers. Details: 775-673-0683.
Peppermill: Hoops Hysteria takes place March 17-19 in the Tuscany Ballroom. Cost is $20 daily or $50 for all three days and includes three drinks, lunch, raffle prizes and every game projected on large high-def screens. Bets can be made at betting stations exclusively for party-goers inside the Ballroom. Details: 775-689-3300.
Silver Legacy: The March Mania event takes place March 17-20 and offers guests a chance to meet former NBA player Olden Polynice and former Nevada Wolf Pack player and Harlem Globetrotter Eathan O’Bryant while watching the games on six-foot by eight-foot screens and large monitors. The Reno Bighorns will bring a basketball hoop and offer fans a chance to shoot a basket for a free dinner. The games also can be seen in the VIP Sportsbook with bleacher-style seating and food and drink specials, and in the Aura Ultra and Silver Baron lounges. Details: 775-325-7401.