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Gambling On The Bowling Lanes


Are there any legal forms of gambling on the bowling lanes? The answer is yes!

United States Bowling Congress (USBC) authorizes legal gambling during bowling competition via the use of bowling brackets.

Bracket wagering is the only type of USBC sanctioned gambling because it pits a bowler's skill against another bowler's skill instead of a chance game. Each bowler pays the entry fee amount (sometimes one dollar or five dollars, or more) prior to competition.

Bowlers are entered into a random drawing (either mechanically or by computer). They are then drawn against another player for each game of competition.

The bowlers can be given a handicap or can bowl from scratch. Essentially, brackets are a type of "pot game" in which bowlers can compete directly against other bowlers during league or tournament play.

The winner of the first heads up match moves on to the second round in the bracket competition accompanied by all of the other winners from the first game. The losers are then eliminated in that bracket. This elimination process happens after each game and the winners of the third game win the pay out for the bracket, if the competition is based on three games of bowling.

A common 3-game league would consist of 8 bowlers per bracket. There are bracket formats allowing for two games of competition and others for a greater number of games in competition.

Starting with 8 bowlers after game 1 there are now 4 bowlers left. The bracket tree causes the 4 bowlers to be paired into 2 groups of 2 bowlers. After the 2nd game, the bowler with the higher score in their bracket pairing would move on to the final bracket level.
Now there are 2 bowlers and they bowl against each other. The bowler with the highest 3rd game would get the Winners share of the money and the other bowler would get the Runner-Up share of the money. It is possible to enter into multiple brackets thereby increasing chances of winning money.


An example of a common bracket payout formula is based on a typical 3-game league bracket which would cost each bowler $5.00; 8 bowlers times $5.00 is a total prize fund of $40.00. There is usually a $5.00 administrative charge (this is the money paid to the person running the brackets). That leaves $35.00 in the prize fund. This money is usually split; $30.00 for the winner's share and $ 5.00 (money back) for the runner-up share.

Bracket wagering is often accompanied by side pot wagering where the highest individual game winners are rewarded with prize monies.

Bracket wagering can be available to anyone participating in the USBC Nationals Tournament as well as leagues or other tournaments offering this type of competition.

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