Circa Sports is Betting Big on NFL Handicapping Contests

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Circa Sports has two huge sports betting contests now running ahead of the NFL season and hopes that it sees a lot more interest over the course of the next two weeks. The contests have a total prize pool of $10 million to be awarded; however, response so far has been slow and the book would end up paying over $7 million out of its own pocket if the contests ended today. Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Review-Journal highlights the contests, with Circa adding that it’s optimistic more participation will be seen between now and the start of the regular season on September 9.

Circa’s Own Version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

Circa Sports has two NFL handicapping contests now accepting entries. One is the Circa Million III and the other is the Circa Survivor. Between the two, the sportsbook has guaranteed a total payout of $10 million – $4 million for Circa Million III and $6 million for Survivor. As of Monday, if no more entries were received, Circa would be on the hook for around $7 million.

Circa Million III is a contest that requires contestants to choose five NFL sides against the spread each week throughout the season. Only after Week 18 games have completed will a winner be found and, as of today, there were 1,606 participants who paid the $1,000 entry fee. That’s a little more than a third of the required amount to avoid an overlay. The winner will collect $1 million, while even last place picks up $100,000. Cash prizes are also going to be awarded for quarterly results in the season.

Hopefully, the market comes in and gobbles up the overlay, and we’re not left holding the bag too bad.”

Circa Sports Operations Manager Jeff Benson

The Survivor contest, which allows up to six entries per contestant, requires participants to choose a winner each week throughout the season. Only the outcome of the game is considered – spreads are irrelevant and a tie is a loss. The one entry still alive at the end of the season wins $6 million. A 20-0 run by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Kansas City Chiefs is worth $1 million in bonus cash. As of today, there are 1,256 entries on a $1,000 buy-in, leaving an overlay of $4.7 million.

Circa Optimistic About its Odds

Circa brass are likely a little anxious to see a significant uptick in sign-ups for the contests. According to Jeff Benson, the book’s operations manager, “We’re tracking at a good pace on the Circa Million. Historical data shows that we usually do 70 to 75 percent of the sign-ups in the last two weeks. Circa Survivor will be a tall task to get to $6 million. It’s probably a little bit of an underdog to get to that number.”

Last year’s Circa Million II contest had $3 million in guaranteed cash. By the time the season started and all the entries were in, there were reportedly 3,148 participants. That allowed the book to cover the guarantee without digging into its own pockets, as it doesn’t collect any rake from the entry fees.

Benson is likely hoping to see a lot of last-minute participation as, if this year is anything like last year, overlays are guaranteed from his pocket, as well as that of Circa Las Vegas owner Derek Stevens and Director of Sportsbook Operations Matt Metcalf.

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