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It wouldn’t be Circa Sports owner Derek Stevens’ style to simply rest on the success of last season’s inaugural Circa Sports Million Pro Football Contest that guaranteed $1.5 million in prizes that drew $1,875,000 in entry fees off the $1,000 buy-in.

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No, this football season he takes things up a full notch higher with the Circa Sports Millions II Contest that guarantees $3 million in prize money they’ll begin taking sign-ups Friday at the Golden Gate and the D Las Vegas with the entry fee still at $1,000.

“We had such an incredible turnout for the very first Circa Sports Million Pro Football Contest that we had to keep the fun going,” Stevens said. “From game-day wagering to season-long competitions, we are excited to continue to offer unique betting opportunities to players across the country.”

I remember last season being blown away by the guarantee and figured there was probably going to be about $500,000 in overlay money paid out by Circa to meet the guarantee vs. entry fees. But they grew the pot higher than advertised where 100 percent of all entry fees are paid out. No rake or contest fees.

With the popularity of last year’s contest and the Circa brand making the biggest splash of respectability I’ve ever seen in the Las Vegas sportsbook business, I will not doubt them again.

I would estimate they’ll draw over $3 million in entry fees with the help of Las Vegas proxy services that bring in entrants from over the country and make the weekly selections for a percentage of possible winnings so the contestants don’t have to be in Las Vegas every week. Those living in Nevada can turn their weekly contest selections in using the Circa Sports app.

Contestants will choose five NFL games a week against the spread and whoever wins the most games at seasons end will win the $1 million championship prize along with a slick Circa Million winners blazer similar to the Masters tradition. The contest will award 50 end-of-season prize-winners and $250,000 in monthly prizes awarded each quarter of the season, and $100,000 to the last place finisher who participated all 17 weeks.

Another Circa pro football contest with $1 million up for grabs that begins taking sign-ups on Friday is the debut of Circa Survivor, which is a winner-take-all contest asking contestants to pick one pro football team to win each week straight up (no points).

Contestants can pick a team only once during the contest which could last 18 weeks, and that includes the Thanksgiving Day games as its own week. Should a contestant go 18-0 on the season they’ll win an additional $1 million as an Undefeated Bonus Prize. The entry fee is $1,000, and three entries are allowed per person.

This is quite the appetizer for the Circa Hotel and Casino scheduled to open December of 2020. Stevens and his crew have been making national news through awareness of the Circa brand well before opening the hotel for minimal costs of a contest expected to pay for itself, along with a booking model attracting any bettor with a cell phone in Nevada, and soon Colorado.

And I didn’t even get to talk about how much I like Circa’s Friday and Saturday offerings of odds on select college baseball games.

Happy 80th Billy

One of my favorite people in the race and sportsbook business in Las Vegas is Billy O’Gorman, an Irish immigrant who found his place in the world at the Las Vegas racebook during the late 1970s after a long journey from Tipperary through boats, trains, automobiles, and planes.  Along the way, he fell in love working in a Southampton, England resort where he met his beautiful wife Sylvia, got married and built a family in Coventry which is where he learned to book the horses. His horse racing experience helped him get a job at the Marina in Las Vegas and later at the Palace Station where we worked together and became friends.

I could listen to Billy philosophize all day or all night over a proper Guinness pint. Billy still plays the ponies regularly and religiously reads Gaming Today weekly so I thought I’d take this small space to say Happy Birthday.

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