Circa’s Guaranteed NFL Contests Could Cost It, But Sportsbook Figures It’s Still Worth It

Company may end up footing the bill for some of its NFL-season contests, but the goal is to drive traffic
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Much has been made in the media of late about how Circa Sportsbook will be on the hook for losses if it doesn’t get enough entries for its season-long NFL contests. And while the longevity of the COVID-19 pandemic may have put a kink in the bookmaker’s plans, there’s still plenty of time to cover the prize money — and even if it doesn’t, the company can’t put a price tag on the amount of exposure its gotten in recent weeks.

“When we came out with our guarantees for the contest in early March, we were hopeful that as we led up to the football season, we would be out of the pandemic,” said Jeff Benson, Circa sportsbook operations manager. “But with Delta, mask mandates, that’s not the case, and when you go out and offer the biggest guarantees and have the two preeminent football contests in the world, you’re trying to gauge the sentiment and what we’re comfortable with.”

Benson said that historically, 70-75% of people enter in the final two weeks. The sports betting contests are only available in Nevada, though entrants can play from other states using proxies after registering in person. The deadline for entries is 2 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 11.

Circa is offering a $6 million winner-take-all Survivor Pool for the second consecutive year in addition to the $4 million Circa Million III, with a guaranteed prize of $1 million to the winner, for the third time. Both contests have a $1,000 entry fee. A key change this year is that both Thanksgiving and Christmas count as their own contest day, meaning participants will make picks 20 times during the season.

Survivor vs. Pick ’em contest

For the Survivor Pool, entrants must pick one winner straight up per week, and the last person standing wins $6 million. There’s also a $1 million bonus for going 20-0 and using either the Bucs or Chiefs in the final week.

For the Circa Million III, Circa raised the guarantee to $4 million for this season. The contest requires participants to pick five games against the spread each week and guarantees prize money up to 50th place as well as a “booby prize” of $100,000 for the last-place finisher. There are also “mini games” throughout the season, with prize money available for results over each quarter (four-week period) of the season. Players get a point per win and 1/2 point per push. The entrant with the most points at the end of the season wins $1 million.

As of Monday night, according to the Circa website, there were 2,973 entries in Circa Million III with an overlay of $1,027,000 and 2,519 entries in Survivor with an overlay of $3,481,000.

The guarantee creates appeal, Benson said, along with there being no rake taken by Circa. For the company, the contests are another way to get bettors to visit the casino property, and, with any luck, spend a few additional bucks on the way to the casino.

“We felt comfortable with the guarantee,” Benson said. “When we do no-rake contests, the whole idea is to get people to come down to our casinos in Las Vegas and be part of our properties and see what we’re doing. That’s why we run the contest.

“In terms of the guarantees, we’re not looking to lose money. … Given the amount of signups we think are going to happen in [the final days] when all is said and done wherever we end up, we feel really good about what the players are getting out of it, and for what we get out of the marketing.”

SuperBook has season-long contests, too

SuperBook, located at the Westgate in Las Vegas, was the first to offer season-long NFL contests. This year it has three options — the SuperContest, Gold, and Reboot, a half-season contest. The company lowered the entry free for the classic contest from $1,500 to $1,000 this year.

All three contests require in-person registration in Las Vegas, though participants can use an approved Nevada proxy to make picks during the season. Here’s a look at the contests:

SuperContest: Players pick five games against the spread each week, and the Top 30 at the end of the season will win prize money. Players can have up to three entries, and during nine mini-contests throughout the season participants can win anywhere from $5,000-$100,000. The 2020 winner won nearly $460,000. The entry deadline is 3 p.m. Saturday.

Gold: This contest has a $5,000 entry fee and is winner take all. The 2020 winner took home $360,000. The entry deadline is also 3 p.m. Saturday.

Reboot: This second-half contest starts during Week 10 of the NFL season and has a $500 entry fee. The Top 10 will be paid out at the end of the season, with 3 p.m. Nov. 13 the deadline to enter.

Image courtesy of Circa Sportsbook

 

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