Football contests are a casino tradition
Competition spices up the football action

Aug 7, 2001 6:37 AM

Christmas comes early to Las Vegas in contest form.

“We would like to think our is the most prestigious,” race and sports book director Cyril Burger proudly boasted regarding the famed Las Vegas Hilton Super Contest.

There’s a contest for everyone available to any adult with an interest in the NFL and a passion to win some major green. The high entry fee at the Hilton, however, does place this contest at another level.

“It’s 250 entrants at $1,500 a pop,” Burger said. “Anybody who has the money can play. Handicapper Russ Culver won it two years ago. We’ve been going strong for more than a decade. It’s five games every week off the menu against the spread. It’s challenging and closely watched.”

There is a nice catch for the entrants — a $10,000 bonus for any contestant that finishes the regular season with an accuracy rating of 67 percent.

If $1,500 is a bit beyond your means, there’s plenty of opportunity to win big for far more enticing rates.

Free entries are available for contests at Resort Las Vegas, Bally’s, Sam’s Town. Stratosphere has a contest for $15, while Bally’s goes for $50. Each one offers players a fair chance to winning each week and have fun, which is all anyone can ask.

“We had 100 people sign up the first day, which is great,” said Rich Bragiel, race and sports book director at Resort Las Vegas. To offer a $125,000 total purse and $25,000 first prize for the season is not a bad deal for a free entry.” The Regent also has a $5,000 weekly top prize, a feature that many hotels have also adopted in their contests to keep the public interested throughout the season.

“We even add a little bit more to the weekly contest to keep our entrants involved,” Stratosphere race and sports book director Robert Jaynes said. “A 15-0 card is worth $2,000 and if there are no winners, we carry over the money the next week. If we go through the year without a perfect score, the pot climbs to $34,000. It’s a nice addition to the overall contest.”

The All-American Contest is another free entry affair, divided among NFL and college games, that takes place at six of the Boyd Gaming resorts — Sam’s Town, Stardust, Jokers Wild, Fremont, Eldorado and California.

“We keep our contest free because we believe in taking care of those people who patronize our establishments on a daily basis,” said Tony Paonessa, race and sports book director at Sams Town. “It’s winner take all each week straight-up. No point spreads. This keeps everybody’s interest. There’s action every week.”

For $50, Bally’s offers a “survivors” version of football contests.

“We offer the player the chance to pick one game, either a side or total,” assistant race and sports book director Chris Eggers said. “They even get to choose whether they want to bet an NFL game or college. Win and advance. Lose and you’re out. With a winner take all payoff, it gets very exciting by midseason.”

There are various rules and amenities (listed below) offered at each hotel. The bottom line is there’s something for everyone out there.

“There are just as many women and men interested in football contests,” Bragiel said. “This town comes alive during football season and we’re so glad the NFL is back.”

The Fiesta Casino Hotel and The Reserve Hotel & Casino are teaming up for a $250,000 Football Frenzy contest, with a $25,000 first prize at stake.

Stations Casino and Barleys are expected to announce their contest plans next week. The opening week for the NFL is Sunday, Sept. 9, with most registration periods expiring 24 hours prior to the games.