Like it or not NFL, Vegas pushing contests

Aug 29, 2006 3:56 AM

Whether it’s megacontests, the fantasy football, weekly entries, parlay cards or merely off the board bargains, Las Vegas has no competition when it comes to NFL fun — and pain.

"This is the best time of the year for all of us," said Eric St. Clair, head of race and sports operations at both The Cannery and its sister Rampart Casino. "Pro football is definitely king."

There is certainly no disputing that. Harrah’s/Caesars Palace took full advantage of its merger to put together a package to give the Las Vegas Hilton and Station Casinos major competition in the high-rent contest district, with its first Glory of the Gridiron. The entry fee is an eye-popping $2,000.

The LV Hilton’s SuperContest, long considered the mecca of NFL handicapping, carries a $1,500 fee and instant credibility. Station Casinos has a $1,000 entry contest, along with several others priced a bit more in the general public’s budget area. All will be popular.

And, Leroy’s has jumped full bore into the craze with its $250 entry College Challenge along with radio shows and head-to-head weekly matchups of major grid handicappers to fill the void of the deceased Stardust Invitational and late night/early AM broadcasts.

"There was definitely a need to provide something for the public to replace the Stardust Invitational," legendary handicapper/radio host Jimmy Vaccaro recently said on the former Larry Grossman Show, now hosted by John Kelly. "The timing was just right."

Vaccaro has always pushed the envelope to provide the best for bettors, which is a similar theme with all Vegas casino properties.

Whether it’s Coast’s Pick The Pros, now in its 29th season, or the Football Frenzy offered at some of the finest locals casinos such as Fiesta, Barley’s, Wild Wild West, Gold Rush, the Magic Star and Wildfire, the little guy has the same chance to participate and win as the high-rollers.

"We’re pushing our highest limits for parlay cards, as much as 925-1 on 10-for-10 winners," said Eric Solomon, race and sports supervisor for The Stratosphere — hub for Arizona Charlie’s locales and the remodeled Aquarius in Laughlin (ex-Flamingo Hilton).

"We have been getting action with our colleges vs NFL (see page 12) overall victories prop," Solomon said. "The college vs. NFL is something different and as long as people are interested, we’re happy to put these together,"

Even the famed Palomino Club, featuring star adult film actress Sunset Thomas, is offering a cool 1956 classic Buick Century Riviera as top prize in its weekly football contest.

No official word on whether Sunset comes with it.