March Madness Contest standing tall

Mar 24, 2009 4:00 PM
by Mark Mayer |

It’s not just 16 teams left to play for a college basketball national championship, but 195 bettors competing for $43,375.

And that’s just the way Station Casinos likes it.

"The Last Man Standing Contest has really caught on throughout our properties for both March Madness and the NFL," said Jason McCormick, director of race and sports operations at Red Rock, the hub for Station Casinos. "We love the format and absolutely stress that we make no money off it. All the entry fees go toward the top prize."

Last year the winner received $49,000 with Stations allowing the purchase of three entries at $25 apiece plus a fourth one free. This year the format was four tickets at $25 with a fifth one free. The hope was for more potential entries, but it wound up in a slightly lesser total purse.

"Blame the economy," McCormick said. "We knew the economic situation would factor in for the contest, but we are very pleased to have gotten 2,117 entries. Green Valley Ranch and here at Red Rock were especially strong and our administrative assistant Carolyn Evely is the reason this contest works."

Last Man Standing was born in 2004 at Texas Station under Bill Walkowski and Bert Cirincione, the latter now operating the Aliante book. It was run just for the NFL, but the concept caught the eye of Station Casinos management.

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"We saw how the contest was really building some steam at Fiesta Rancho and it got to where Stations wanted to make it a brand name," McCormick said. "It’s the second straight year for March Madness and we have one for NASCAR going on at the Fiestas (Rancho and Henderson).

McCormick said the Last Man Standing concept, where you pick games against the spread until only one entrant is left, can be applied to college football in the future.

"We’re tossing around the idea of one for college football to go with the NFL, but the one danger is to run so many that the market becomes saturated," McCormick said. "What we like about the contest is that it is so simple. Make a pick, win and we’ll see you tomorrow."

It will be an anxious wait for the 195, who still have a possible five days of action over nearly two weeks before a winner is known.

"I’m optimistic that it will come down to one person and that we won’t need a tiebreaker," McCormick said. "I know for a lot of people winning $43,375 can be a life-changing experience. That’s what makes this so exciting for us."