Bet on it: There’s no contesting contest deadline

Bettors have given Vegas sportsbooks all kinds of excuses for tardiness but to no avail.

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Chicago Bears v Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys’ victory over the Bears eliminated two people from the $6.133 million Survivor contest.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — The goats and sheep at the stockyard in Falls City, Nebraska, nearly kept Casey Witt from a major appointment Saturday afternoon. He thought he had missed the Circa Survivor deadline.

As he assisted his boss at a livestock auction, it clicked, at 19 minutes past three his time. In panic mode, he darted out of that hangar-like building.

“I was busy working and got distracted,” Witt said Sunday night. “I even offered to pay a late fee, to get my pick in. I was hoping I wasn’t late. If I wouldn’t have gotten my pick in, I would’ve been a sad S.O.B.”

Witt, 35, was fine because Toni Law and Chicago native Matty Simo operate their Vegas proxy service with a cut-off time a few hours ahead of Circa’s 4 p.m. Pacific deadline.

He became anxious when he missed their deadline, but his true contest window wasn’t close to being shut.

So he didn’t wind up a Vegas high-dollar football-contest casualty, as a $5,000 SuperContest Gold participant did awhile back at the Westgate with an 0-fer weekend because he didn’t submit his picks.

And he’d been inside the SuperBook for a couple of hours.

With Circa Survivor, though, such loitering is lethal since it involves selecting one NFL team a week. If it simply wins, the customer advances. That team can’t be used again. Not picking a team means elimination.

A grand down the drain of ignominy.

In Circa Million and the SuperBook’s two contests, missing a week means going 0-for-5; in the Golden Nugget’s Ultimate Football Challenge, it’s 0-for-7.

SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay took over the SuperContest reins in 2004. For the first time, all entries (1,598) were submitted in Week 1.

He gauged odds of that happening at +500, No being a heavy -700 favorite.

“Never happens. No one missed the first week. A miracle.”


Traffic was ridiculous! No parking spots. A fire engine blocked the entrance. My wife was having a baby. Overslept. The alarm didn’t go off.

“We’ve heard every excuse over the years,” Kornegay said, “everything under the sun. It’s a hard deadline, but it’s always taken out on us.”

The indelible scene, to Kornegay and his staff, happened a few years ago when the two SuperContest deadlines were 11 a.m. Saturday.

A patron who had paid $5,000 to enter the winner-take-all SuperContest Gold had strolled into the SuperBook around 9 that morning. The NFL commenced Sunday. He and friends occupied a plush VIP booth.

Kornegay and ticket writers had talked with the man, who walked back and forth, to and from the counter, making bets. It struck him around 11:30.

“He realized he hadn’t put his picks in,” Kornegay said. “Opening weekend in the NFL, a very good slate of college games. A lot going on.

“I could see, to a certain extent, getting caught up in all the atmosphere and electricity, seeing if there was any late-breaking news or waiting for a specific injury to be announced. Next thing you know …”

The customer erupted. Kornegay was sympathetic, but the Vegas contests have unbendable rules. A late fee to which Witt alluded doesn’t exist.


In the SuperBook, with 60, 30 and 15 minutes left, the looming deadline is announced over speakers, a final “Last call” warning bellows with about five minutes remaining.

“That’s the best we can do,” Kornegay said. Friends and neighbors have begged to have late selections entered.

“Once we close it, we cannot reopen it,” he said. “It is audited by our audit team and [the Gaming Control Board]. Like, ‘Here’s the deadline, and then you reopened it 20 minutes later? Why did you guys reopen it?’

“It’s a hard cut-off. No exceptions.”

Has a patron ever sobbed on the other side of the counter?

“No, they’re not usually sobbing,” Kornegay said. “Infuriated is the word I’d use. To put up $5,000 and forget and go 0-5 … I understand. That’s pretty tough to swallow. But once the smoke cleared, he knew it was on him.”

One guy crossed all lines of decency when he told Kornegay he missed the deadline because his daughter had been in a car accident. Kornegay expressed genuine sorrow. Still, nothing could be done.

“He wouldn’t accept that,” Kornegay said. “He said, ‘Well, I hope your daughter never gets into an accident.’ I’m like, Whoa! I have a daughter. It hit me hard. I said, ‘This conversation is over.’ ”


In Survivor at Circa, there were 27 “No Picks” in Week 1. Week 2 had 21, Week 3 had 11. In Weeks 4 through 6, all remaining contestants submitted selections. In Week 7, however, there were two “No Picks.”

Professional bettor John Murges, a Chicago native and longtime Florida resident, has played in the SuperContest since that property was the Las Vegas Hilton. He also partook in Circa Million IV this season.

“There could be many reasons for missing an entry deadline,” Murges said. “It’s hard to imagine forgetfulness being one of them.”

Circa management declined to speculate or comment.

In July, Witt visited and met with Law and Simo, inking their Football Contest Proxy company to represent him in Survivor. The service, required for non-Nevada residents but increasingly popular with locals, cost $299.

He has been picking like a god. When he reached Law on Saturday, he was elated to learn there was no deadline issue. Dallas or Philadelphia, he thought. He told Law, -“Dallas.”

The Cowboys beat the Bears 49-29. When we chatted Sunday evening, he knew two people had lost in the $6.133 million contest. There were no “No Picks” last weekend.

Of the 6,133 original Survivor entries, Witt’s and 122 others remain. And he hasn’t used the Eagles, Bills, Chiefs, Vikings or 49ers.

“[Expletive] it, out of more than 6,100 people?” Witt said of having, so far, survived Survivor. “Not bad.”

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