DraftKings’ NFL Handicapping Contests Offer Coloradans Millions In Potential Prize Money

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Sports bettors who were bummed to learn that neither Circa nor the SuperBook would be bringing their high-stakes NFL handicapping contests to Colorado this season can take solace in the fact that DraftKings is offering similar action that won’t require a trip to Nevada.

The sportsbook operator has opened up two contests to online and mobile subscribers in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia — with no in-person registration required. With a $333 entry fee (limit three entries), its Pro Football Millionaire Survivor pool requires contestants to pick one winner per week, straight up, with the inability to use a team more than once during the 17-week regular season. The winner will receive $1 million and a ticket to the Tournament of Champions. (In the event of a tie, the top prize will be split equally.)

DraftKings’ Pro Football Millionaire Pick ‘Em contest features a $1,500 entry fee (limit three entries) and a top prize of $1 million. Whoever finishes second gets half of that, and the third-place finisher pockets $400,000. The top 135 finishers will receive at least $2,500, with ninth place and better earning six figures. The total prize pot is set at $4 million.

The rules are as follows: Contestants pick five teams to win against the spread each week and can toss a week, meaning only their 16 best weeks count toward their total. Participants get a $100 free bet for each week in which they get all five picks right, and whoever has the most correct picks at season’s end wins the big money.

‘Potentially a game-changer’

“It’s potentially a game-changer because you don’t have to fly out to Vegas and enter a football contest,” said Matty Simo, who runs a Vegas-based proxy business and has an affiliate deal with DraftKings to promote its football contests. “I think it’s unique that they’re able to do it online or on an app. Once you’ve got a sportsbook account with them, you can enter the contest. They’re trying to start [a national contest], basically. If you are entered in New Jersey, you can’t go somewhere else, like Florida. You’re geo-located and you have to be in a legal state to do that.”

“I think maybe that’s what the future is, once you can sign up for a mobile account with Circa or SuperBook,” he added, name-checking the genre’s frontrunners.

But as Simo notes, a fair amount of NFL handicappers are still willing to schlep to Vegas to sign up for the Circa and SuperBook contests and employ proxies to submit their picks in person because “they know the contests are run properly and they don’t have any issues.”

With the DraftKings contests, “you’re still kind of at the mercy of technology,” Simo explained.

And while technology has come a long way, some high rollers might have a hard time forgetting the fiasco surrounding DraftKings’ 2019 Sports Betting National Championship, when a professional sports bettor named Rufus Peabody missed out on a shot at the title due to some tight NFL scheduling and an ensuing technological snafu.

‘It isn’t really a gray area’

Another thing Simo finds intriguing about the DraftKings contests is that they’re pooling money from multiple states where sports betting is legal — something Circa has shied away from due to what it considers to be a murky interstate regulatory environment. Back in May, Circa CEO Derek Stevens told CO Bets that his company’s contests would continue to be Nevada-specific for the time being “because you can’t cross-pollinate these pools.”

Yet that’s just what DraftKings is doing, and attorney Jeff Ifrah, who specializes in sports betting issues, thinks it’s on firm legal ground.

“It isn’t really a gray area,” he said. “Every state regulator has discretion. I haven’t heard anything specific from the Colorado director. I’ve definitely spoken to regulators in other states who have no problem with a pool of prizes [extending beyond state lines]. To the extent this is a federal Wire Act issue, it may be that because it involves pooling of prizes in states where sports betting is legal, one could conclude that the Wire Act isn’t applicable.”

Photo: Shutterstock

Mike Seely has written about horse racing for The Daily Racing Form and America’s Best Racing, and has contributed pieces on a multitude of topics to The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, among other publications. He can be reached at mseely@bettercollective.com.

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