William Hill jumping big into pro football betting contests

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As of early Monday morning, official football contest announcements have not been made by anyone in Las Vegas except for the LVH’s legendary Super Contest, but rumors about William Hill’s first foray into the contest market we’ve been hearing about are true.

There’s $600,000 of guaranteed money that will be offered in separate pro and college football contests by the company that bought and merged 164 Leroy’s, Cal-Neva and Lucky’s sports books.

The $500,000 Pro Pick’em Football Contest has a $25 entry fee. It’s a no-points contest picking all games with no point spreads that offers both weekly and season prizes. $21,000 will be awarded in each of the 17 weeks and $41,000 goes to the season winners. The end-of-season grand prize winner will also win a VIP trip for two to London for the 2013 NFL game. As a gift for signing up, they’ll also give each contestant a free $5 parlay card wager.

The College Pick’em Contest has a $100 entry fee with $100,000 in guaranteed prize money at season’s end. Contestants will be required to pick seven games against the point spread each week.

While the two contests don’t match the $2 million Station Casinos offered last season for the Great Giveaway or the $500,000 given away for free in Boyd Gaming’s Pick the Pros contest, it’s still pretty good for a sports book-only operation that has no other means of income other than race and sports.

The two local giants get their return on investment from slot players visiting weekly to play their contest, and while they’re there, most play the slot machines or table games. The additional revenues gained at the William Hill locations, which also include up to 80 additional kiosks on Golden Gaming slot routes (PT’s Pub), will be kept by that individual property.

But the main goal for William Hill is to establish their brand in the market, and that has been accomplished. With so many locations throughout the state, they will easily be the most convenient contest to turn selections in on a weekly basis.

The only real negative to be found with each of the formats is that contestants can sign up for 25 entries. Yes, that’s not a typo, it’s 25 entries.

It’s understandable that William Hill would want to try and recoup as much of the $650,000 guaranteed prize money as they can by allowing so many entries, but what it does in the process is alienate the small player who will feel they have less of a chance against the mega-groups of players who round-robin selections on their cards.

One of the main complaints from other no-points contests over the years has been one person turning in several hundred cards at a time, while the person waiting in line fumes as he has a limit of three. It’s easy to say, “you can do what he does, too,” but it doesn’t work like that in the minds of the average contest player.

There’s a far greater number of people who may not enter William Hill’s contest because of feeling slighted, before it even happens, than those who pony up to get the maximum entries. These contest players have been around the block and are the same people, who as a whole, generate the most traffic and drive the no-points contests.

Regardless of the case, this is still another contest in town with a huge overlay – meaning the prize money exceeds the entry fees – that is too good to pass up.

We’ll recap the contests as all the official rules are posted, hopefully by next week.

Fantasy betting

With everyone getting prepared for their Fantasy Football drafts over the next three weeks, it should be noted to all that Cantor Gaming sports books will post the “Cantor 7” weekly proposition bets that will allow bettors to take advantage of all that player information gained studying.

“We will post a variety players comprising eight to 12 (fantasy) teams and allow the bettor to pick a team of their own players to match-up against ours,” said Cantor Gaming sports book director Mike Colbert.

“We use a standard scoring system and each team consists of a quarterback, two running-backs, two wide-receivers, one kicker and a defense. When your last player is entered, our computer will make a point spread on the fantasy matchup and it’s at that point the bettor can choose what team he wants to bet on.”

Colbert added that all the point spreads have -115 attached to each side.

“We’ve been doing it for basketball and baseball and I’ve seen all kinds of strategies people have used whether it’s picking the worst team possible and betting against it no matter what the spread is, or trying to handicap which of our teams listed is the worst,” he said.

So until all that fantasy football knowledge obtained finally cashes in at the end of the season, why not make some money on the side and try to beat the Cantor computer rating.

The term Fantasy Football wasn’t mentioned by Colbert or listed anywhere in Cantor’s rules – even though, technically, it is the word we all identify with – because the Nevada Gaming Control Board feels they have an understanding of what Fantasy Football means and forbids the term to be used in Nevada sports books.

But that’s an entirely different story to be saved for a slow day.

Draft Party

In a recent visit to my favorite PT’s Pub, I noticed they had a promotion going on welcoming all fantasy drafts. I’ve seen a few places do this before. They take reservations like they’re doing my group a favor, but yet never give us a deal despite a massive bill accumulated through four continuous hours of drinking and food orders that was then slapped with an egregious automatic gratuity.

“Thanks a lot, see you all next year, we might have Wi-Fi installed by then.”

But the major difference with PT’s promotion is they are actually giving stuff away and offering cheap drink specials exclusively for these groups. They realize people will come if giving the consumer a fair shake, a reward for walking in their doors.

In addition to giving a free draft kit to every group, PT’s has also partnered with Coors Light to offer the group buckets of five beers for $10 each, served in a collectible helmet. Every day is happy hour from 4-7 p.m., where drinks and pizza are half price, which is in the range of time most drafts prefer.

On top of all that, PT’s is also raffling away a trip to any pro football game in San Diego or Arizona for the entire group to attend, airfare and transportation included. Every group that drafts at PT’s will get an entry into the drawing. They’ll also give the group a drawing ticket for each bucket of beer sold.

PT’s say it’s a $5,000 value, which is good enough to count me in. But they already had me with the cheap beer and free Wi-Fi.

We’ll have some Fantasy Football advice posted in two weeks on GamingToday.com. 





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