By Rick Sallinger

BLACK HAWK, Colo. (CBS4)– The annual NCAA basketball tournament is back after an absence due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year is the first time it is legal to bet on the games.

A general view at the 2021 NCAA Tournament (Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images )

In Colorado’s gambling towns and online, the wagers and money are flowing in. The odds are good that March Madness will bring richness to Colorado.

“Obviously I think it’s a good thing because it’s going to go back to the state and pay for a lot of local causes and things like that,” said Jake Friesen.

Friesen and friends sat at a table in the Saratoga Casino in Black Hawk with a wall of basketball games on TV monitors in front of them.

(credit: CBS)

The money from sports betting goes to state water projects. And if it’s a lucky day, to the pockets of gamblers like Friesen.

“We just got our first win, Florida came through for us in overtime, so we’re looking real good right now,” he said.

And it’s looking good to sportsbook operations like BetFred at the Saratoga. Where the real money comes in is not in person, but over the sports betting phone apps.

Tim Morrissey, the general manager of the Saratoga explained, “It’s convenience, I mean people are able to pull out their phones wherever they are at if they are work, at home, they can make a bet.”

March Madness is expected to bring in more than the Super Bowl, mainly because it’s spread out over many days.

(credit: CBS)

Noah Bohlmann was among those placing bets on the games saying, “like any gambling, you’ve got to have a good balance between having fun and spending too much money.”

Betting on college basketball games is nothing new, but in Colorado what used to be illegal is now perfectly legal.

Rick Sallinger