The recent merger of Harrah’s and Caesars Palace unlocked the door to potentially the richest pro football contest in the country.
"It’s our first attempt and one we think caters to the serious handicapper," said Chuck Esposito, assistant vice president of race and sports operations at Caesars Palace. "Our top 10 contestants each week will have their names up in lights on the Strip. I think that’s pretty neat."
Glory Of the Gridiron was the name chosen for the main contest, with a one-time entry fee of $2,000 and a first place prize of at least $200,000. The Hilton SuperContest has a $1,500 entry and Station Casinos has its Great Giveaway priced at $1,000 to enter.
"The NFL contest was a collective effort between myself, Howard Greenbaum (Harrah’s VP of specialty gaming) and the nine property race and sports book managers," Esposito stated. "We thought Glory Of The Gridiron was a name that represented this contest well. The big attraction is involving all nine of our properties, giving contestants a chance to win a very significant amount of cash."
Glory Of The Gridiron is a 17-week test in which customers choose six games against the spread with no ties. The first 10 positions will be paid, but there are plenty of options available to keep contestants interested.
"We will pay the leader $15,000 after six weeks, and another $15,000 after 12," Esposito said. "While this contest continues through week 17, another one will start from week 13-17 to give everyone a second chance. That mini-contest is a $20,000 winner take all."
First place in the overall contest (weeks 1-17) receives 50 percent of the total prize pool, according to Esposito. Second place gets 16 percent, third place 10 percent, fourth 6 percent and fifth through tenth, 3 percent.
"Entries began being accepted this past Sunday and can be made at all nine of our properties throughout Nevada," Esposito said. "T-shirts and hats will be given to everyone who enters. The deadline to sign up is Saturday, Sept. 9 at 2 p.m."
Harrah’s and Caesars also has a football contest for a weekly $20 entry fee that calls for the player to choose the winner against the spread in all the NFL games that particular week.
"In our weekly football contest, each is independent of the previous one," Esposito said. "You can enter as many times as you like .We plan on a $20 progressive parlay card payout with the hotel kicking in the first $5,000. With every $20 card, the pool grows. Take in those nine properties around Nevada and the winner has an opportunity for a great payday"
Esposito refused to look at Caesars’ first venture into the "high stakes" NFL contest market as a direct challenge to either the Hilton or Station Casinos contest.
"We’re just another alternative to a market that, like poker, has seen a growing interest in football contests," he said. "We’re keeping our options open for future contests. College football is not on our immediate list, but certainly something we would consider down the road. We want to see how this goes first."