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The title stays in the family.

For the second consecutive year, a BetMGM property has claimed the championship of Gaming Today’s Bookies Battle contest sponsored by Station Casinos. Last year, it was Jason Halpin of Aria. This year, the winner is Randy Madayag of The Mirage, who beat out 61 other competitors to capture the $1,000 winner-take-all first prize, going 146-106..

John Lindheimer of Harrah’s Hoosier Park made a late-season push and finished in a three-way tie for second with a record of 140-112 along with another BetMGM contestant — Mike Piranio of Mandalay Bay — and Mike Lewis of the Suncoast.

“It’s a great feeling,” Madayag said of his victory. “Frankly, I’m a little surprised. This is such a hard contest. You’re putting in your picks on a Tuesday and things change as you get closer to kickoff. There’s also a certain amount of luck involved. But I’ll take it.”

Jeff Stoneback, who supervises both Madayag and Piranio at BetMGM Nevada, was proud of their prowess at picking winners.

“Both Randy and Mike are really sharp. They follow it so closely,” Stoneback said. “We won last year with Jason and now we went 1-2 with Randy and Mike. It’s something we can hang our hats on here. It gives us some bragging rights with our cohorts in the industry.”

Contestants had to pick all NFL games for 17 weeks against a specific point spread. No totals were involved and all picks had to be turned in by mid-afternoon Tuesday. And in a year plagued by COVID-19 and seeing players and coaches sidelined late every week, that made the task particularly challenging.

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Yet Madayag had been at or near the top of the standings most of the season as was Piranio. They are friends and longtime MGM employees so it was almost like a sibling rivalry. Madayag said it came down to seven games Sunday where he and Piranio were going head-to-head.

“I was concerned about Mike,” he said. “We’d been going back and forth all year and in the final week, we had a difference on seven games. So I focused on those games.

”I had a terrible morning. But I did just enough well in the afternoon to win.”

Madayag said he plans to put his winnings toward a family trip to his native Hawaii later this year once he feels comfortable traveling by air.   He will get a chance to cut at his expenses by winning the Bookies Playoffs, which begins this Saturday with the Wild Card round and culminates with Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7. The top 10 finishers will compete for a $500 prize.

Joining Madayag, Lindheimer, Lewis and Piranio will be Chuck Esposito of Sunset Station in Henderson, NV, Michael Smoller, representing Wildfire Boulder, Nick Bogdanovich of William Hill, Jason McCormick of Red Rock Resort, Robert Kowalski of Baldini’s in Reno and Art Heun of the Gold Strike in Tunica, Miss.

Madayag said his playoff strategy isn’t going to change much after picking 58% winners this year.

“I’ll still look to take the points,” he said. “I only like two favorites this week — the Saints and the Steelers. Hopefully, I can keep it going in the playoffs.”

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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