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Money shot: Businesses, sportsbooks benefit from NCAA Tournament

College basketball is helping everything from sportsbooks to chicken wings sales

After a year without college basketball, the NCAA Tournament is back, meaning big business for many in the Commonwealth.
After a year without college basketball, the NCAA Tournament is back, meaning big business for many in the Commonwealth.

ROANOKE, Va. – It’s officially tournament time, and Virginians have the chance to watch the college basketball tournament in a different way this year.

This is the first year Virginians can place bets on the tournament on sportsbooks such as DraftKings.

“Virginia residents can now do what Nevada residents have been doing for fifty years,” said Johnny Avello of DraftKings. “We prepared on Selection Sunday when they announced what teams would be in the tournament. We made the odds and put up the offerings, and now it’s game time.”

Avello said tourney time is the busiest time of year for sportsbooks, even more so than the Super Bowl. He expects more than 50 million people nationwide to place bets on the tournament.

“The Super Bowl would be the biggest one-day event, but since this tournament expands over the course of 10 days, it’s the biggest, and certainly the most exciting,” Avello said.

The big games also affect restaurants such as Allsports Cafe, which specializes in chicken wings.

“The first day of college basketball, we expect a big turnout today, tomorrow, and all weekend,” said chef and self-proclaimed “Wing King” Marvin Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said the business boost means even more because of the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s work. I’ve got to work and provide for my family,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a blessing to do so during the pandemic.”