If Kansas wins Monday's National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s college basketball championship game against North Carolina, a furniture store owner in Houston, Texas, will win at least $6.27m from online wagers he made in Louisiana.
As if that was not enough, customers who spent at least $3,000 on mattresses and furniture at his store will get their money back as part of a sales promotion by Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale.
McIngvale, who is now becoming a sports-betting whale in Louisiana having placed similar well publicized wagers in Colorado and other states, placed his bet on Caesars Sportsbook’s app.
The $3.3m bet at plus 190 means McIngvale stands to win $6.27m if the Kansas Jayhawks, who opened as four-point favorites in the championship game, defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Forbes reported McIngvale also bet $2.2m on Kansas via Barstool Sports.
McIngvale and his wife, Linda, took a 15-minute helicopter ride to beat the traffic on the 150-mile trip from Houston to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he placed his wagers.
Sports betting is not yet legal in Texas, where lawmakers last year punted on a bill to permit wagers at racetracks, sports arenas and through mobile platforms.
Rumors began circulating last week that Caesars, which operates Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans, was trying to extend its gambling exclusivity to block other sports-betting companies from taking wagers in New Orleans during the Final Four.
The Final Four features the last three games of March Madness with two games on Saturday and the championship on Monday (April 4) at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.
“That is absolutely not correct. I confirmed with state police that there is no exclusivity concerning sports betting (in Louisiana),” Louisiana Gaming Control Board chairman Ronnie Johns told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.
As of Friday, Caesars pays Louisiana a guaranteed $65m per year for exclusive gambling rights in Orleans Parish, which includes New Orleans.
But those exclusive rights, which previously cost Caesars $60m per year, do not extend to sports betting.
Caesars inquired about whether its gambling exclusivity rights included sports betting late last year after Louisiana began taking bets at its brick-and-mortar casinos on October 31.
Louisiana launched online sports betting on January 28.
“In fairness to Caesars, they did not push the envelope on [sports-betting exclusivity],” Johns said.
Caesars’ office in New Orleans did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
So far, it has been a tough year for notorious sports betting whale Mattress Mack McIngvale after losing $6.15m when Georgia beat Alabama on January 10 for the national college football championship.
McIngvale took an even bigger hit on the Super Bowl, losing $9.5m when the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals on February 13.
With sports betting still illegal in Texas, Louisiana is cashing in on bets not only from Mattress Mack but other gamblers from the Lone Star State who are driving from Dallas and Houston to wager in the Bayou State.
In February, Louisiana’s sports-betting handle from online wagers totaled about $211m and another $27m came from brick-and-mortar casinos, according to Johns.
From the end of October through the end of February, total sports-betting handle in Louisiana totaled about $396m.
Johns said the March Madness numbers for Louisiana will not become available before April 10.
“We expect the March Madness handle is going to be incredible,” he said.