Casino football bets are a bargain

Posted: September 18, 2011

For many football fans, a new NFL season means an opportunity to hitch their own fortunes to the outcomes of the games. And while you have to be in Las Vegas to experience the full sweep of sports betting, casinos closer to home in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Atlantic City still find ways to help their customers to get in on the football action with pick 'em contests and sweepstakes.

And often, those casino football contests are quite a bargain - entry is free, and some of the potential prizes escalate to thousands of dollars and possibly to seven-figure jackpots.

A notable exception to the free contests in some Pennsylvania and Atlantic City casinos is the seasonal sports wagering in Delaware, where the Casino at Delaware Park and the state's other two gambling halls, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway, offer pro football parlay wagering. The Delaware parlays require bettors to correctly select three or more teams while factoring in the point spread, which is how many points one team is favored over another.

Parlay odds are daunting, but the payoffs can be seductive. For instance, go 10 for 10 on your picks on a basic parlay card and you can collect 800-to-1 on your bet.

There are several variations on the Delaware parlays. Bettors can make their selections on parlay cards as soon as the cards are released each Wednesday for as little as $2, or wait until later in the week when the point spreads may change and the minimum bet is $5. Payoff odds differ slightly depending on whether the bettor uses the original or adjusted point spreads.

There's still another wrinkle called teasers, when 6 points to as many as 10 points are added to the point spread.

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey casino football contests, it's usually necessary to be a member of each casino's players club to participate, but membership is free. Also, it's advisable to check with the players club booth for contest details. The following are highlights.

The Borgata. This Atlantic City casino hotel has a $1 Million Pick the Pros challenge with a juicy weekly prize. Each Monday, player club members make their picks for that week's NFL games at designated touchscreen kiosks. The person with the most winning selections each week earns $30,000, and in a random drawing, 500 people share $25,000 in bonus slot dollars that can be used at the casino's slot machines. Player club members can make a new set of selections daily for a total of seven free entries in a week.

Harrah's Chester. In Pigskin Pick 'em, player club members get one free entry each week and select all the games plus the combined score of the Monday night game. The most accurate handicapper each week wins $2,000, and two players are chosen at random as so-called wild-card winners for $500 each. At the end of the NFL regular season, players with the five top season scores and the one with the lowest total will split $30,000. Ten wild-card winners will divvy up $20,000 in a drawing.

Parx. The contest at the Bensalem casino is tied to Eagles games. When players insert their player club card into a slot machine on Eagles game days, they'll get to pick which team will score the most points - the Birds or their opponents. Whenever the slot player's team scores, the customer earns free slot play for every point scored, from $1 to $5 per point depending on membership level. At the Parx table games, when either the Eagles or the opponent scores, a table is chosen at random and everyone playing with a player card wins match play of $100 to $1,000 (match play credit is combined with an actual wager to double a bet).

SugarHouse. At this Philadelphia casino, player club members select their slate of winning teams each week. Should some prognosticating savant correctly nail 205 of 245 total games for the season, the player gets $1 million. More realistically, the three top game pickers each week win a share of $2,500. On Jan. 8, the top selector for the season will win a trip to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, and four other top pickers win cash. Plus, there'll be a random drawing.

Trump Taj Mahal. Football and poker go together at this Atlantic City casino. In one contest, poker players pick the winners for the games on Sunday and Monday with each week's winner earning $500. In January, there will be cash prizes for most cumulative picks and $1 million if someone picks 204 out of 245 games correctly. In a separate Monday night contest, poker players receive scratch-off game pieces with scores for each quarter. Players hope to match the last digit for each team in each quarter and can win from $100 to $25,000.

Caesars Entertainment casinos in Atlantic City. - These four - Caesars, Bally's, Showboat and Harrah's - offer a pick 'em contest in which player club members make their selections at designated kiosks. Extra picks can be earned by earning club base reward credits. Each winning pick earns a point, and top point-earners win weekly and total-season cash prizes. Awards also include trips to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl, and food and beverage prizes will be handed out in random drawings. There's a $1 million prize in the event someone selects 237 of 245 games correctly.

The Tropicana. This Atlantic City casino has a poker-room promotion in which losers may become winners. On Monday nights, cash game players who have a straight beaten by a flush or better become eligible for a contest involving that night's game in which they may win from $250 to $1,000.

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