Circa Sports is raising the stakes again on NFL handicapping contests.
After increasing the guaranteed prize money for its Circa Million and Circa Survivor contests from an unprecedented $10 million in 2021 to $12 million last year, the downtown sportsbook this year is sweetening the pot to a record $14 million.
The $1,000 entry Million V will again feature $6 million in guaranteed payouts, while the $1,000 entry Survivor will feature an $8 million guaranteed payout — up from $6 million last season.
“We really want to grow the largest football contests ever. We want them to be a key part of the Circa Sports brand,” Circa casino owner Derek Stevens said. “I think these football contests are great for Circa Sports and great for Las Vegas.”
The Million V contest will need 6,000 entries to meet the guarantee, and Survivor will need 8,000 entries to meet the guarantee.
Last year, Circa Survivor beat its $6 million guarantee with 6,133 entries. Contestants pick one straight-up NFL winner (with no point spreads involved) each week but can use each team only once.
“We want to bump up Survivor because we surpassed the guarantee last year,” Stevens said.
But Circa Million IV fell short of the $6 million guarantee with 4,691 entries. That resulted in a $1.3 million overlay for bettors that was paid for by the book. Entrants make five NFL picks against the spread each week.
“We’re going to keep the guarantee on the Circa Million the same as last year because we didn’t hit it,” Stevens said. “We had that overlay last year, so we’ve still got to grow into that $6 million guarantee.”
Circa also paid $1.92 million in 2021 to cover an overlay in Survivor and has shelled out a total of $3.2 million the last two years to cover overlays.
“Every year, we try to push it,” Stevens said. “If there’s a small overlay, there’s a marketing component. We’re not looking to have a massive overlay, but sometimes it happens that way.”
Circa has increased the maximum amount of entries allowed in each contest, from three to five in Million and from six to 10 in Survivor.
In Survivor, contestants can purchase up to 10 additional entries if they lose their original entries on the opening “Thursday Night Football” game Sept. 7 between the Chiefs and Lions. An entrant cannot go into the Saturday deadline with more than 10 active entries.
Also, the book has eliminated the $1 million undefeated bonus prize from last season in Survivor that was guaranteed to go to any contestant who went 20-0 and didn’t use either of the teams from the previous Super Bowl (Bengals and Rams).
“We really wanted to focus on making the guarantee bigger,” Stevens said. “So we eliminated the bonus and said, ‘Let’s push the guarantee to $8 million.’”
The Circa Million V winner is guaranteed $1 million, along with a Circa Sports blue jacket.
Places two through 100 will be paid a total of $3.65 million. There will be $1.2 million in quarterly prizes awarded. The last-place booby prize will receive $100,000, and the next-to-last-place booby prize will receive $50,000.
Last season’s Circa Million IV champion finished 59-26-5 ATS, while the booby prize winner went 29-55-6 ATS.
Two entries went 20-0 last season (NFL weeks 1 through 18, plus Thanksgiving and Christmas) to share $6.1 million in prizes in Circa Survivor.
This year, Thanksgiving/Black Friday and Christmas Day will each be considered their own contest weeks in Survivor.
Registration starts Thursday. Sign-ups and entries can be made at Circa, the D Las Vegas, Tuscany, The Pass and Legends Bay.
People outside Nevada can enter the contests and have their weekly selections made through a proxy.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at [email protected]. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.