Friends Move Annual March Madness Party From Vegas To Maryland

Written By Aleeyah Jadavji on March 22, 2023
Sports betting moves March Madness party from Vegas to Maryland

An amazing story of friends and their love of college basketball began in 1999. That year, John Johnston and his son, Kevin, made their first trip to Las Vegas to view and bet on March Madness games.

They had no idea at the time that it would launch a 20-year tradition that would see their party grow every year and provide loads of fond memories for the friends and family.

Party in Vegas strengthened bonds of friendship

In-person Maryland sports betting began in December 2021. Online betting became available to Marylanders last November, allowing online betting this year on March Madness games for the first time in The Old Line State.

Each year until 2020, the father-son duo made their home at the Hilton in Las Vegas (now called the Westgate Superbook), where they would wake up at 4 a.m. to wait in line for the sportsbook doors to open at 8 a.m. Soon, the rest of their group of friends and family would arrive. 

The games began at 9 a.m., and they would watch basketball until the last game ended at 9 p.m. 

John’s other son, Brian, and family friend, Nick Sfak, also joined them, along with a group of friends that grew bigger and bigger each year. Many of these friendships stemmed from middle school, high school and college. These March Madness viewing parties in Vegas strengthened their friendships over the years.

Moving the party to Maryland was an easy decision

The annual March Madness party came to a screeching halt in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of a sudden, a 20-year streak was broken. The trip was put on hold for two long years.

Once the world began to open back up, it was time to get the party ball rolling again. As it turned out, in-person sports betting was legalized in Maryland at the end of 2021. The group all hailed from The Old Line State, so they looked for a local sportsbook to be their new home for the annual March Madness getaway.

That’s when the FanDuel Sportsbook at Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland stepped up.

FanDuel Sportsbook was a perfect fit for the group

John walked into Live! in 2022 to see what FanDuel Sportsbook could do for the group. General Manager Bruce Bilek soaked up the stories from John and committed to reserving an exclusive and premium recliner area for the group each year. The group was ecstatic, Johnston said.

“We weren’t disappointed. Our expectations were exceeded by the tremendous service and overall experience. Bruce Bilek, Leon Twyman and the entire FanDuel team made our March Madness experience an unforgettable one.”

With the move closer to home, the group grew to 15 in 2022. The word spread quickly about their amazing experience at FanDuel. More than 20 friends and family took in the March Madness games last weekend.

After two years of amazing service and a unique experience in their own backyard, the group has decided to officially make FanDuel Sportsbook at Live! the new home for their annual March Madness reunion. Welcome to Vegas East!”

The group naturally cheers for the Maryland Terrapins. Unfortunately, they lost to No. 1-seed Alabama over the weekend. Johnston said the group was not surprised by the loss.

“We always cheer with our hearts and pull for the Terps, but the consensus of the group thinks Alabama will cut down the nets.”

A VIP experience at Sports & Social

Sports & Social and the FanDuel Sportsbook offer a unique viewing experience for sports fans. The sportsbook features a 100-foot linear screen, 40 HDTV’s, state-of-the-art lighting and sound and comfortable seating for everyone.

In-person sports betting features a truly seamless experience, with betting kiosks and 10 betting windows to guarantee quick service. 

Sports & Social has an extensive beer menu, a wide array of cocktails and a menu full of delicious food options. 

Photo by Johnston family/Courtesy
Aleeyah Jadavji Avatar
Written by
Aleeyah Jadavji

Aleeyah hails from Toronto, Ontario in Canada and has been working predominantly in the poker industry since 2015. From writing articles to interviewing big winners and live reporting on poker's biggest stages, she's seen it all. Aleeyah loves to cook and create content to showcase her passion for food and travel. She now reports on all facets of the growing U.S. gambling industry.

View all posts by Aleeyah Jadavji
Privacy Policy