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Derek Stevens wagers to make $3 million at SuperBook

Updated July 3, 2020 - 11:36 am

Derek Stevens is one of these plan-ahead people. The downtown resort operator is again surveying the horizon, looking to the World Series to help pay for his World Largest Sports Book at Circa Las Vegas.

Stevens is also looking to the Westgate SuperBook for funding.

“Game 7 of the World Series is Oct. 28, and that’s the day Circa opens,” Stevens said Thursday afternoon from the Westgate SuperBook. “I can maybe cash something out over here, and help pay for the new joint.”

Stevens’ financial plan is four Major League baseball wagers at Jay Kornegay’s famed SuperBook. Each bet would pay $1 million apiece if they come home.

In a quick visit to the SuperBook, Stevens laid down $4,000 on the Detroit Tigers to win the American League pennant and $2,000 to win the World Series. He also wagered $5,000 on the Miami Marlins to win the National League pennant at 200-to-1, and another $2,500 on the Marlins to win the World Series at 400-to-1.

$3M possible payout

Stevens could win a total of $3 million from the SuperBook with his $13,500 payout. And, if just one of those teams makes the playoffs, Stevens would start “hedging” against the bets to ensure a profit (Stevens has turned hedging into a business strategy, and also an art form).

“I would love to have a Marlins-Tigers World Series,” said Stevens, co-owner of the D Las Vegas and Golden Gate in downtown Las Vegas. “That’s two pennants, and one World Series win.”

Stevens reasons that the volatility of a shortened, 60-game season. “There is a little bit of value in a short season, and some young kids on both teams.” The Tigers’ pitching staff is laden with young arms that would likely start in triple-A in a typical season. Now they are in the Majors, and in a short season, who knows?

Kornegay ran Stevens’ proposed bets up the chain of command at Westgate, with GM Cami Christensen finally approving all four wagers.

Kornegay, Westgate’s sportsbook vice president, has never paid out $1 million on a single bet. He doesn’t plan to now, either.

“With those odds, it doesn’t take much risk to win $1 million,” Kornegay said. “I’m not saying it can’t happen, but they are long shots for reason.”

Kornegay has faced potential massive payouts over his 32-year career, of course. The SuperBook stood to lose more than $1 million if the Vegas Golden Knights had won the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. The Golden Knights opened as 400-to-1 underdogs, moving to 500-to-1 in the preseason.

“And I still rooted for the Knights,” Kornegay said. “I’m such a fan.”

Kornegay says he’s actually stressing more over a side bet he’s making with Stevens. Kornegay’s proposal is for the Circa operator to wear a SuperBook shirt for a day if he loses; Kornegay would wear a Circa World Largest Sports Book shirt for a week if he loses.

“I really want to see Derek in one of our shirts, hopefully on Oct. 28,” said Kornegay, who actually brought a stack of SuperBook shirts and hats to the book on Thursday, in case Stevens wanted to play fashion model.

Both Stevens and Kornegay’s SuperBook team are vying for the “world’s largest sports book” distinction. Stevens has advanced the rivalry by formally naming his new Circa book with that title.

Kornegay has countered by having his SuperBook tellers wear blue polo shirts with a similar “biggest” message. As Stevens made his wager, dropping a stack of $100 on the counter, he asked SuperBook staffer Zach Arcio, “What’s your shirt say?”

Arcio answered “The biggest and the best.”

Give them a little business

Stevens said he moved out of his downtown hovel to scout recent upgrades in the Westgate high-definition screens. He says that, today, the SuperBook is still the largest in the world.

“From a brick-and-mortar perspective, there’s no question that Westgate is the pound-for-pound champ, seat-for-seat champ, pixel-for-pixel champ,” Stevens said, then hedged. “I wanted to give them a little business, because come Oct. 28, we’ll see what happens.”

Stevens’ passion for grand sports books was actually born at the SuperBook. He remembers his first visit to a Vegas sports book was in the SuperBook when the hotel was the Las Vegas Hilton.

“When I walked in here, in my life it was a ‘wow’ moment,” Stevens said, looking up at the Westgate video screens. “I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is a dramatic venue.’ I think it’s so great that when you come to Las Vegas and see this book, it’s a memory you’ll never forget. That’s what we wanted to create at Circa Sports Book, we want people to walk in and say, ‘This is the greatest.’”

Kornegay grins at the competition. But he’s not relenting the SuperBook’s long-standing position as the market leader in size and scale. The sports-wagering exec is looking forward to his first trip to Circa to see for himself.

“If you have both sides claiming to be the world’s largest, you just have to prove it,” Kornegay said. “We expect that, and I’m sure that would be the same way if it were the other way around.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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