Golden Gate owner Derek Stevens has a few tricks up his sleeve when he opens his newly branded Circa Sportsbook Saturday morning. How about betting on a team you don’t think will win the World Series or the Super Bowl? That’s one of the new options Stevens and his team will unveil at Circa books, the first of which opens at the Golden Gate in downtown Las Vegas at 8 a.m.
A newly refurbished book at D Las Vegas opens in three weeks with the signature three-story stadium-style sportsbook venue coming when the 777-room Circa resort debuts in December 2020.
“We’re coming out with what we call a ‘no bet,’ ” Stevens explained while unveiling the 1,297-square-foot Golden Gate venue. “Matthew Metcalf, Mike Palm and myself are excited about what we’re creating on a no bet. We’re going to offer some of the best odds if you want to bet the Cubs, the Bears or the Yankees or whatever, what people are accustomed to seeing. But we’re also going to be offering ‘no betting,’ and we think that’s going to explode in popularity.”
Stevens said he is kicking off the first day of wagering at the new venue, which features 18 49-inch screens producing a 6-by-21-foot video wall, with zero-cent lines. The no-vigorish bets will only be taken Saturday over the counter. Zero-cent lines will be offered on the NBA Finals, the NHL Stanley Cup third game, Major League Baseball games, and the Champions League soccer final between Tottenham and Liverpool.
Saturday will also be the first day to sign up for a new pro football picks contest and to sign up for the free Circa Sports app, which will be available free on Apple and Android platforms through their respective app stores. Per Nevada regulations, mobile players must sign up and provide identification in person before they can use the app.
Circa, approved by state gaming regulators in April, will open in a growing sports wagering environment becoming larger with a “British invasion” of European brands entering the North American market. Stevens’ sportsbook had been operated by one of those companies, William Hill, but the longtime industry executive said he’s always wanted to operate his own book and found an opportunity with the convergence of two opportunities — the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act and Stevens’ ability to acquire land for the new Circa resort.
“This is a business we’ve wanted to get into for quite awhile,” Stevens said Friday. “When we had the Golden Gate and the D, we thought we would never have enough volume. When we were able to acquire all the different businesses on the site of where the Las Vegas Club was, all of a sudden we knew we would put a sportsbook in and would have enough volume. We kind of knew this was an inevitability by the end of 2015.”
“The moment that that happened, I thought, ‘Oh my, look at this. The timing couldn’t be better,’” he said. “I have always been one that thought that allowing sports wagering in multiple states would be good for Nevada.”
New York, Arkansas, Montana, Washington D.C., Indiana, Iowa and Tennessee are on deck to join eight states — Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island — in offering legal sports wagering, according to reports presented at this week’s International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking presented by UNLV.
Stevens is confident the nationwide expansion will be good for Las Vegas and that his new brand will thrive.
“It’s good for customers,” he said. “When you bring someone new into it, we’ve always seen in Nevada it creates some other attractions, some other reasons to come and visit Vegas. So we’re going to be pretty creative. We’re going to offer some options that aren’t necessarily out there currently. We’re going to have a very broad menu and I think certain customers are going to really enjoy Circa Sports.”
A new football contest
When Derek Stevens first came to Las Vegas, he marveled at the Las Vegas Hilton (now Westgate) Superbook and its high-stakes football SuperContest.
So he hired former Westgate sportsbook director Matthew Metcalf and they invented Circa Sports Million, a new football contest with a million-dollar first-place prize.
“We’re guaranteeing $1.5 million in the football contest, a million to the winner, $300,000 to places second through 10th and then we’re guaranteeing $50,000 to the winner of each quarter, so the months of September, October, November and December,” Stevens said. “The entry fee is $1,000 and with us doing this, there’s no rake and that’s kind of a pretty big deal. Every dollar that gets put into the contest is paid back 100 percent to all of the contestants.”
The contest involves picking five National Football League game winners against the spread and more than 1,500 contestants are expected to enter.