Pigskin Pickem heats up in Sin City

Las Vegas has started to offer its usual smorgasbord of soccer contests and, as always, there are more selections to choose from than the buffet at Bellagio!

The most important, of course, is the Hilton Las Vegas Supercontest, which has been around for years and proclaims its winner as the best handicapper in the world.

Canadian Tony Ricci of Vancover (the blue team) won $ 303,000 in 2005.

The entry fee is $ 1,500 and participants choose five NFL games a week against a margin of competition.

Twenty places are paid.

Last year, the competition attracted a record 505 participants.

This year, registration began in mid-July and registrations have been slow, according to an employee, as backlash appears to be mounting in protest at the large number of participants.

Some of the top Las Vegas handicappers have stated that they will not participate in the SuperContest this year, although SuperBook officials have predicted that a new mark of around 600 will be set.

SuperBook supervisory staff are said to be pushing to increase the entry fee to at least $ 2,000 in 2007.

Only 20 players had signed up as of Monday, but the Hilton expects a series of entries to occur on the last weekend of August, as well as on Labor Day weekend.

The early-bird deadline, which gives players a chance to win $ 10,000 in a three-week mini-contest at the end of the season, is 4 p.m. on September 1.

The Hilton will get solid competition at the top end this year from Harrah’s, whose resorts are naming a new NFL competition, Glory of the Gridiron, which already has a $ 2,000 entry fee.

The company will add $ 50,000 to the pool.

Participating resorts, in addition to Harrah’s, are Caesars Palace, Bally’s, Paris, Flamingo, Rio, and Harvey’s in Lake Tahoe.

The registration deadline is 2 pm on September 9.

With the legendary Stardust about to be demolished, probably before the end of the year, there will be no Stardust Invitational this season after a successful 11-year run.

ProCappers.com handicapper Marc Lawrence won the final Invitational last year, defeating popular leader Fezzik in the seven-game final.

That void is being filled with Leroy’s Money Talks football contest, in which the top two players each week make seven grad plays, college or career, against Leroy’s Friday night line.

The competition debuted last season, with 16 players each betting $ 2,500 to enter and Leroy’s, which operates more than 60 Silver State books, throwing in $ 10,000.

Former Las Vegas bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich took home the $ 40,000 jackpot and ProCappers.com handicapper Bryan Leonard finished as runner-up.

The bets are doubled this time.

The buy-in is $ 5,000 and Leroy is winning another $ 20,000 for a $ 100,000 pot.

About three dozen people have expressed interest in securing one of the 16 locations.

An announcement about the field’s selection was due last week, but, according to media relations director Jimmy Vaccaro, it was postponed until certain documents are signed.

“We know who we want, but we have to put points on all the i’s and cross out all the t’s,” Vaccaro said late last week.

Leroy’s will also host its $ 250-per-ticket college football contest, but protagonist Vic Salerno has decided not to host a similar NFL competition.

Rather, Leroy’s will continue their professional Pick’em & Win contest.

Details on all Leroy contests will be posted shortly.

Station Casinos, which continues to add new properties to its ever-growing family, will sponsor two contests, including the No-Points Great Giveaway, consistently voted the best soccer contest in town by readers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Tickets are $ 25 each and those who buy two get a third free.

The Great Giveaway is offering $ 1,000,000 in cash prizes, with $ 510,000 reserved for weekly winners and another $ 490,000 awarded at the end of the season.

Weekly prizes will total $ 30,000, with $ 10,000 for the contestant who chooses the most winners and another $ 5,000 for the contestant with the most losers.

The first place winner at the end of the season will receive $ 100,000, the second place $ 50,000 and the third place $ 25,000.

The person with the most losses will win $ 50,000.

Additionally, $ 200,000 will be divided among players who “Fiddle in the Middle” or are closer to selecting the 50 percent winners and losers.

Participating resorts are Palace Station, Boulder Station, Sunset Station, Texas Station, Santa Fe Station, Red Rock Station, and Green Valley Ranch.

The Challenge of Stations of $ 1,000 per entry will also return, with a guaranteed jackpot of $ 100,000.

Players can buy up to three tickets

Contestants will also compete for the use of a Mercedes Benz for one year and $ 12,500 to be awarded the winner of a four-week mini-contest.

An additional $ 10,000 is up for grabs for early bird contestants who register by September 1 in a “Beat the House Bookmaker” competition.

Coast Casinos, which merged with Boyd Group earlier this year, will renew Friendly Frank’s $ 1,000,000 Pick the Pros Contest with no points for the 29th consecutive year.

Tickets are $ 25 each and contestants who buy four receive a fifth free.

The prize is $ 100.00, with $ 50,000 for the second, $ 25,000 for the third, $ 10,000 for the fourth, and $ 5,000 for the fifth.

The next 300 winners will receive $ 1,000 each.

An additional $ 30,000 will be awarded per week, including $ 10,000 for the weekly winner.

Those who register before 4pm on September 7 will be eligible to win $ 3,000 and other prizes.

The casinos involved include Gold Coast, Barbary Coast, Suncoast, South Coast, Fremont, and Sam’s Town.

The Palms will return your Pigskin Payoff Contest, which offers $ 300.00 in cash prizes.

The partial breakdown is $ 271,000 in weekly prizes and a $ 10,000 end-of-season prize.

Tickets are $ 25 each and those who buy three before August. 20 will receive $ 10 worth of slots.

More information about the contest will be available in a later story.

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