Circa on Hook for $1.3M in Millions Contest, Avoids Survivor Overlay

Today was deadline day for Circa Millions IV and Circa Survivor — the two wildly popular NFL picks contests offered by the downtown Las Vegas casino — and the house is on the hook for $1.3 million in overlays.

An advertisement for Circa’s football contests on VSiN. There’s a $1.3 million overlay for Circa Millions. (Image: VSiN)

The overlay is the amount of cash Circa Sports must fork over to meet the guaranteed $6 million in prize for each contest, or $12 million total. As of 2 P.M. Las Vegas time, Circa garnered 4,691 entries for the Millions competition, meaning the operator will have to shell out $1.3 million to get to $6 million. There is no overlay for the Survivor game as that field of entrants finished at 6,133, meaning the prize pool is $6.13 million.

That $1.3 million overlay isn’t small change, but it’s far lower than the $4.5 million Circa Sports was looking at just four days ago. Over those four days, more than 1,600 entries flowed into the Survivor contest while Millions added about 1,400 entries.

Not Surprising no Survivor Overlay

Over the past two years, Circa Sports incurred $3.2 million in overlays for the two contests, indicating the sportsbook operator did better to the tune of $600,000 this year.

It’s not necessarily surprising Survivor wasn’t saddled with an overlay. In that contest, participants select just one NFL team to win outright – not against the spread – each week. Additionally, Circa guarantees a bonus of $1 million to entrants that avoid using last year’s Super Bowl teams – the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals — until the final week of the contest.

After the 31-10 shellacking the defending champion Rams endured at the hands of the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football, Circa Survivor players may be inclined to hold off on using that team for a while. Circa founder and CEO Derek Stevens admits the company took a beating on the survivor contest last year.

On the other, the Millions contest requires participants to select five teams each week against the spread. That’s tough work for even expert-level sports bettors.

Last year’s Millions winner went 63-27 against the spread. That’s a 70% win rate, which is well above the roughly 53% a bettor needs to hit to break even on sports wagering.

How Circa Benefits

Circa doesn’t take a rake on the contests, meaning it’s not directly making money from these offerings. Rather, the now-famous competitions bolster the Circa Sports brand and lure customers to the most prestigious integrated resort in downtown Las Vegas. In addition to Circa, the privately held company controls D Las Vegas, Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, and Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.

The financial benefits for the operator by way of the contests could be two-fold. First, entrants must sign up in person and it’s possible many of them drink, eat and hit the slots or tables while at Circa.

Second, the lavish prize pools with no rake further cement Circa Sports’ status as a rising player in the sports wagering industry and one that’s willing to take action from sharp bettors.

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