- Bally’s Interactive–the digital gaming unit of Bally’s Corporation–is offering a $100 million USD prize for correctly picking all 63 games of the NCAA basketball tournament.
- The contest only involves the Round of 64 ‘main bracket’.
- The odds of correctly picking every game in a NCAA bracket borders on the statistically impossible.
We generally like Bally’s Corporation and their various betting focused sub-units. That said, we can’t give them a pass for reviving this old gag. Bally’s Interactive–the digital gaming unit of Bally’s Corporation–is reviving the old ‘huge prize for picking every NCAA tournament game correctly’ gimmick. In this case, if you defy the whims of mathematics you’ll take home $100 million USD for your efforts.
Bally’s is even giving you a fighting chance. You won’t have to predict the ‘first four’ play-in games. Not that it’ll help you much. You won’t even have to pick these games against the spread. Before we get to the math behind this contest we’ll give you the announcement from the Bally’s press release:
Bally’s Interactive, the digital gaming unit of Bally’s Corporation (NYSE: BALY), announced today the launch of Bally Bracket – a free-to-play game that awards a jackpot prize of $100 million to whomever correctly picks all 63 games of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.
Bally Bracket will also award $100,000 in additional cash prizes, given out at random and in the following increments: (i) one $50,000 winner; (ii) one $25,000 winner; (iii) two $10,000 winners; and (iv) one $5,000 winner.
Your best chance of winning is one of the $100,000 ‘additional prizes’ which according to the press release are being ‘given out at random’. Not that you’re getting any great value here. The rules of the contest–which you can find at ballybracketgame.com–says that the contest is limited to 1 million entries at 1 per person. I’d want a lot more than 50 G’s for hitting a 1 in a million shot. The contest closes when the first game on the first Thursday of ‘March Madness’ aka the ‘Round of 64’ tips off.
Bally’s does acknowledge the difficulty of winning without going into the math:
Tournament games draw record crowds, huge television ratings, and endless online chatter among fans. Over the years, millions have tried but nobody has ever predicted a perfect bracket since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The closest attempts have been tripped up at the Sweet 16 round. Still, fans all over the country, from regular joes to sitting presidents, continue to try their luck each year.
Bally’s will utilize its media partnership with Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ: SBGI) as a promotional channel for the game. Sponsored segments on Sinclair’s local TV stations, its Bally Sports regional sports networks, and digital media sites will keep viewers updated as brackets bust and hearts sink with each passing round.
Adi Dhandhania, COO of North America for Bally’s Interactive, had this quote talking up the game:
“The NCAA tournament is always an enjoyable time of year as people gather to cheer on their favorite teams. Bally’s has been a brand synonymous with fun for decades, so we developed an engaging free-to-play game for fans to participate in and have an opportunity to win $100 million. We are excited about our partnership with Sinclair Broadcast Group and will be using their massive media footprint to promote the Bally Bracket game.”
And now the bad news. Picking a perfect NCAA tournament bracket borders on impossible. Depending on how you do the math, it ranges from a low end of 1 in 128 billion all the way up to 1 in 9.2 quintillion (1018 if you’re scoring at home). You’ve got a significantly better chance of winning a big Powerball lottery jackpot. The odds of taking home a big Powerball jackpot is a mere 1 in 292 million.
If you’ve followed our work for awhile you know that I love to compare these type of contests to the odds of other unlikely events occurring. Your odds of being killed in a lightning strike is 1 in 161,000. Your odds of dying from the flu are 1 in 70. Your odds of taking the big dirt nap due to heart disease? 1 in 7. Being killed in a tornado? 1 in 60,000. Being killed by an asteroid strike? 1 in 1.9 million. Killed by a shark attack? If you live in the US that’s 1 in 7 million. If you’re within a 100 miles of the coast you’re practically a lock to be killed by a shark with odds of 1 in 3.7 million. For those of you who have a fear of flying check out the odds of being killed in a commercial airline crash–generally speaking, it’s 1 in 11 million. Technically speaking, it depends on a number of factors such as route, airline, aircraft, weather, crew experience, maintenance, etc. Realistically, this means that if you’re taking a flight in the US or Europe your odds are in the neighborhood of 1 in 20 million. In the third world, closer to 1 in 5 million under the worst circumstances.
What does this mean? It means that the general public has a downright pitiful understanding of probability and its implications. Most people don’t worry about heart disease despite the 1 in 7 chances of it killing you. People terrified of flying and modern commercial aviation is insanely safe. There’s no harm in entering a game like this but don’t go thinking you’ll win–and particularly with the 1 entry per person proviso.