LAS VEGAS — There was only one thing that could distract us from the start of the NBA Finals. None other than King Football – Vegas style.
The news broke Thursday on VSiN from one of my guys in the desert. Jay Kornegay, the Westgate Las Vegas sports book director, not only confirmed that his popular SuperContest will be back, but he also unveiled a second high-profile NFL competition – with a winner-take-all prize.
“We are actually going to offer a new, high-end contest called SuperContest Gold,” Kornegay told me. “That will be a $5,000-entry, winner-take-all contest. It will have the same format as the regular $1,500 SuperContest, but this is for those who want to put up a little bit more.”
The biggest difference aside from the fee is that instead of the multiple winners in the regular contest, there will be just one in the new version. And there is a limit of one entry per person instead of two. If someone wants to get some friends to join in and split the initial cost, Jay said that is entirely OK, as long as there is just one person fronting the entry until the season is over.
“The new contest will have the same format,” Kornegay said. “Five picks against the spread; same spread as the SuperContest. Sides only, no totals, no college. All pro football. It’s very simple. Five games against the spread each and every week for 17 weeks during the regular season.”
This is a wonderful competition that has leveled the playing field in recent years between sharp players and us recreational bettors. Just this past year a Starbucks barista from here in Vegas and a soybean farmer from Illinois finished first and second in the SuperContest, which had a first prize of $895,000. You can only imagine how big this will grow with SuperContest Gold.
Entries will be taken for both contests starting July 1, and they must be made in person at the Westgate SuperBook. Anyone from outside Nevada who comes in to enter must designate someone else to make his or her picks in person each week.
“If you’re from out of state you can get a proxy all on your own,” Kornegay said. “We don’t have any affiliation with the proxy services that are out there to have them select your selections each and every week.”
Whether the Westgate phone app may be used for the contests is still up in the air.
You can be sure that I will be playing the contest this year, and I will keep you up to date every week on how I am doing, just so I can find out how many of you can beat my brains in.
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He has said it over and over again in the past year. Las Vegas is a “viable option” for a Major League Baseball team.
Yes, commissioner Rob Manfred seems to be a progressive leader who is open to the expansion of sports gambling. But there is one problem in this particular case. His sport has thumbed its nose at this very market for years with its archaic, television-blackout rule.
Mr. Commissioner, I get how you want to use Las Vegas as a bargaining chip to convince Oakland to finally build the A’s a new home. But we play a lot of poker here in the desert, and we recognize a bluff when we see one. Yours is the only major sport that continues to black out games on networks like ESPN and even your own.
Frankly, I am surprised that the ESPN contract worth $700 million a year allows you to do so. From my reading of the business pages, ESPN needs all the viewers it can find right now.
This is a market that is home to thousands of transplanted Californians and Arizonans. Some bet on baseball; most don’t. Either way they would love to watch the Dodgers and the Giants, the Angels and the A’s, the Padres and the Diamondbacks on a regular basis. But Mr. Commissioner, while the National Hockey League and National Football League are truly embracing southern Nevada, you are spurning it. And I am still trying to figure out why.
If we go back to the original reason for blackouts, it was to encourage fans to show up at the ballpark and pay to enjoy the live experience rather than sit at home and watch the games on TV. But when Major League Baseball blacks out a game in Las Vegas it doesn’t follow that someone is going to jump into a car and drive to Dodger Stadium or hop onto Southwest Airlines and fly to San Francisco. The economic reason for preventing Las Vegas from seeing 20 percent of the teams makes no sense whatsoever.
In other words, Mr. Commissioner, in an area where many cannot afford the more expensive, satellite baseball packages, how does this massive blackout promote your sport to a “viable” market?
Think of it this way. If a team eventually lands here in Vegas, doesn’t it make sense to showcase baseball at every opportunity? After all, it pays to have your potential customers familiar with your product before you try to sell it to them.
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Within hours of Golden State’s demolition of Cleveland in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, oddsmakers pushed the Warriors to 9-point favorites for Sunday night’s second game. The over-under was reduced to 221.
When you walk away from Thursday’s opener chirping that LeBron James was the second-best player on the floor, you know you’ve got trouble if you are backing the Cavaliers. I lost on Cleveland plus-7 but won when the total finished well under 225. But after paying the juice to my guys in the desert, 50 percent just doesn’t cut it.
Here is a memo to coach Tyronn Lue: It is perfectly OK for a defender to make himself an obstacle in Kevin Durant’s express lane to the hoop. Matador defense might work in February in an All-Star Game, but it won’t cut it in June in the NBA Finals.
My VSiN colleague Gill Alexander has been backing the Warriors for more than a month to go 16-0 in the playoffs. After watching Game 1, I am not ready to take a position against him, especially if the Cavaliers can’t keep the Warriors from becoming a runaway train on the way to a victory parade in downtown Oakland.