As Circa Prepares To Fly In Sparks, Cautious Approach Remains

One of the most indelible images from the late July monsoon that swamped much of Las Vegas was water pouring in through the monitors at Circa Sports.

Amazingly, the downtown sportsbook was able to get back “up and running in a couple days,” Circa owner and CEO Derek Stevens told Sports Handle.

“Monsoon season in Vegas gets a little ridiculous,” he added. “We had some spare panels and had to rejigger the screen.”

As for the inevitable Stadium Swim jokes, Stevens said, “I kind of let the internet take care of that.”

After the flood, Stevens and his charges quickly returned their attention to Circa’s two NFL contests, which boast a total prize pool of $12 million this year (up from $11 million last season).

“This is a big step up this year where we’re guaranteeing a total of $12 million,” said Stevens, who will host a “Circa Football Preview” event in the resort’s newly opened convention space on Aug. 27. “We’ll see if we end up with an overlay or not. The schedule’s a little different this year with the reduced number of preseason games, but so far, so good.

“The next few weeks ought to be a lot of fun and chaos as we get closer to [regular-season] kickoff.”

Northern Nevada next

Speaking of fun and chaos, Aug. 30 will mark the opening of Circa’s new sportsbook at the Legends Bay Casino in Sparks as the company’s first retail foray into northern Nevada.

“Northern Nevada is a location where we wanted a brick-and-mortar for a while,” explained Stevens. “When we kind of went through the project, we thought all the stars aligned. We were able to design it from the ground up, we loved the location, and loved that it was a new property.”

Like the SuperBook, Circa has been more deliberate than others in expanding its post-PASPA footprint. As Sports Handle previously reported, it will soon be entering its fourth state (after Nevada, Colorado, and Iowa) when it opens a brick-and-mortar sportsbook in Waukegan, Illinois, in partnership with Full House Resorts.

In explaining how he determines whether to set up shop in a new market, Stevens said, “The primary factors have to do with the regulatory environment, the size of the market. That’s really kind of what sets things up. Once we assess the market, we’ve got to strike the right deal with the right partner.”

California dreaming?

When it comes to California, a state that’s been inundated with competing initiatives seeking to legalize sports betting in different ways, Stevens said, “It really depends on how [Proposition] 26 plays out, how [Proposition] 27 plays out. The devil’s gonna be in the details. You’ve got a lot of lobbying going on. We’re just going to wait and see what happens in November and make a call from there.

“The state of New York, the initial thoughts in Ontario and Canada, some of those regulatory environments and the tax rates associated with them are a little different,” he added. “We run a low-hold model, and a low-hold model is not going to work in a high-tax environment.”

Back in downtown Vegas, Circa could soon face retail competition from FanDuel and DraftKings. FanDuel is close to receiving full regulatory approval to rebrand the sportsbook at the Fremont, while DraftKings is expected to have similar plans for the Golden Nugget.

“I think having brick-and-mortars downtown kind of creates a little bit of a mecca,” said Stevens. “I’m not really worried. I think sportsbook competition is great for the consumer, and I think that helps grow an industry. I’ve got a relationship with DraftKings as well. They’re a tenant in our television studio. We all get along pretty well.”


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