AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash — Northern Quest Casino is busy as the NCAA tournament gets underway - and people are lining up to place bets on the games.
"Oh, it's great. I'm so happy to get the gambling going and it's a lot of fun and a lot of fan interest and it's great for the community and it's a lot of fun," said Bruce Rude, as he sat in the Turf Club Sportsbook at Northern Quest.
One man and his brother even made a long drive from Chelan County to get in on the fun.
"I live in Chelan, Washington, so I made a trip over here just to do this," said James Best.
With the excitement building as the tournament's round of 64 is about to get underway on Thursday, Northern Quest is preparing for a flood of sports betters.
"We're hoping for the best and expecting big crowds. We haven't seen a huge turnout so far in the last couple of days, but expect it to be turning up tomorrow first thing," said Chris Pendell, Northern Quest's Director of Table Games. "We did some extended hours just to accommodate for the 9:00 a.m. game start."
The Turf Club has screens showing the games, as well as other screens showing the latest odds for those games. But, there's at least one team playing Thursday that betters won't see the odds for at the Turf Club.
"With the regulations, we're not allowed to bet on the in-state teams, which we have a couple in. Unfortunately, you know, we're supportive of the regulations, but also hopeful that it'll eventually turn over or get overturned to allow it, like we've seen in other jurisdictions," Pendell said.
That means betters at Northern Quest won't be allowed to place bets on the Gonzaga Bulldogs men's or women's teams, or the Washington State University Cougars women's team in the Big Dance. However, people can place bets on all of the other teams in the NCAA Tournament.
"There's still 60-some-odd teams that people love to bet on," Pendell said.