by Micah Roberts
It’s that time of year again! Football is here and if you live in Las Vegas, there isn’t a better place to make some extra cash by entering any one of the many football contests around town. If you don't live in Vegas, all you have to do is make a visit, sign-up, and then have a friend or hire a proxy service to enter your weekly picks. Even if you're not much of a football fan, it’s likely that you’re definitely a cash fan which is what many Las Vegas casinos lay down to entice a visit to their property.
The football season is the one time of the year that a casino marketing department actually get heavily involved with the sports books because there is so much cross-over business from football fans who come in all shapes and sizes that lead to high volumes of play in other parts of the casino. Football appeals to everyone which makes offering contests with huge overlays good business sense.
The overlay is the amount that is offered as opposed to what is actually brought in by entry fees. The Boyd group’s free contest is the ultimate overlay because they are giving away $500,000 this season without taking any entry fee’s. Station Casino’s and the Palms $25 contests never come close in entry fees to reaching what they guarantee in prize money.
Here’s a look at two of the high end contests in Las Vegas beginning with the big grand-Daddy of them all.
Las Vegas Hilton Super Book - Super Contest - Entry Fee: $1,500
“If you want to compete against the best handicappers in the land, come play the Super Contest,” said Race and Sports Executive Director Jay Kornegay, “The contest has long storied tradition, well before I arrived here, and the players have continued to keep it’s prestige high.”
The draw of the Super Contest that requires a $1,500 entry fee is the lure of the huge prize structure and being crowned champion of the prestigious contest. Last years winner, Steven Fezzik, won $196,800 for winning by being the most consistent handicapper over 17 weeks. It was Fezzik’s second year in a row winning the Super Contest going back to back, something not even legendary handicapper and former Super Contest winner Mike Lee was able to do..
Beyond winning the top prize, other incentives for players out there is just to see how they match up against the best. Everyone knows someone who thinks they are a great handicapper no matter what city you live in, but with the pressure of having to select the best five games a week where there are some weeks you may only truly like two games, well, that’s where the real challenge is.
“We get all types of bettors playing the contest,” said Kornegay, “By no means is it just a contest where the professional handicappers blow everyone away. We have quite few entries that are pooled together by a group of dealers or bartenders from casinos around town who turn in their picks using a consensus play within their group. We’ve also had winners of the contest who have done it in their first year playing, so it’s a much broader pool than just some of the known names that enter.”
Over the years there have several regular small money bettors that have parlayed their success -- not even winning the Super Contest, just doing well -- that have led to prosperous handicapping careers. It was all because of the weekly exposure gained by people around the world seeing their names near the top of the list when the weekly standings were published.
Every late Saturday afternoon, the Hilton publishes the selections which are eagerly anticipated by bettors from all over the world just to see what the consensus plays are from contestants who are deemed to be serious handicappers as well as the individual plays from the likes of known players like Fezzik.
“A lot of players like to use the consensus plays as a handicapping tool because of the respect they have for the players entered,“ said Kornegay.
The exposure and incremental bets made because of the contest from those entered, and others who just visit to see the picks, is the foundation of what a contest is supposed to achieve. They have created their own niche and market that separates them from everyone else.
The Super Contest rules remain the same. Pick five games a week against the listed spread. All selections must be made by 11 am Saturday for that week’s games and all entry fees are returned as prize money.
This season, Kornegay has made it easier than ever for bettors to get the selections because he’ll be posting them on LVHilton.com.
South Point Sports Book - Friendly Frank’s Pro Championship Challenge: Entry Fee $2,500
This will be the third year the South Point will be offering the high end contest. This is another contest that has a huge overlay possibility. They are guaranteeing $250,000 in prize money regardless if they get the 100 entries it would take to pay for the contest. All additional entries fee’s are paid out to the top four finishers, with the winner guaranteed to win $100,000.
Another attraction to this contest besides the prize money is the bonus money of $50,000 South Point will pay out to contestants who win at a 65% clip or better for the year. All weekly entries must be submitted by 2 pm on Saturday’s.
Station Casinos and Cal-Neva books have eliminated their high end contests for the 2010 season.