There’s a lot of attention focused on football contests at the start of the season, but once play begins, no one thinks much about them. They should. In addition to providing a free opportunity to make a big score, many of these contests provide a shot at winning when you have two or three losses on your card, something that’s never possible in the big contests.
Here’s a list of the free contests in town, presented in the order of amount of money they pay out. Except for PT’s and O’Aces, all require swiping a club card at a kiosk in the casino.
Boyd Casinos. The Pick the Pros contest at Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, Sam’s Town, California and Fremont has the highest profile. Weekly prizes have just been raised from $20,000 to $30,000, and will jump to $50,000 in weeks 14-17 of the NFL season. This one has the most money in it by far, but it’s also the toughest to win, usually requiring a perfect card.
Aliante. Pays $2,500 weekly distributed among the 10 top scores, with $1,000 for first.
CasaBlanca/Virgin River. Pays $2,250 per week with a top prize of $1,000. This one’s in Mesquite, so maybe it doesn’t belong on this list, but it’s still a good one.
PT’s. Pays $1,000 to the overall weekly winner, and $25 to the winners at each of 47 locations (including Sierra Gold and Sean Patrick’s). Play this one by filling out a card and giving it to the bartender. You can enter once per day beginning on Sundays, giving you up to seven cards to sweat. If you put your entries in at different bars, easily done with so many outlets, you have a shot at multiple $25 prizes.
Rampart. Pays $1,000 per week with a top prize of $500.
Hard Rock. Pays $1,000 per week in free-play. (This one has the best name: Gridiron Maiden.)
Silver Sevens. First prize is $500 and second is $250. Ads actually say “$250 or two free buffets,” but I’m pretty sure it’s “and two free buffets” (if not, take the cash).
O’Aces (two locations). Pays $200 weekly. There’s also a bonus payout of $10,000 if you pop a perfect card, but this one incorporates the point spread (the only one on this list to do so), which makes hitting a perfect card a real long shot. You can play once per day every day. Hand your entries to a bartender.
Ellis Island. Pays a minimum of $25 and up to $500 in free-play to the top three finishers each week.
If you play them to the max, including seven entries each at PT’s and O’Aces, you’ll have a 21-contest-card free roll. Even passing on the Mesquite trip and playing PT’s and O’Aces once each, you’d still have eight cards in action with no cash outlay. Now that’s a strong deal.
Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor.