LAS VEGAS - The Westgate SuperBook is the home to The SuperContest, one of the most exciting sports betting contests that Vegas has to offer. In 2017, the contest has never been hotter and the number of entries is pacing to award the first million dollar first place prize in its history.
The SuperContest allows players to pick 5 NFL games per week for 17 weeks with an entry fee of $1500. One requirement (and Nevada law for out-of-state players) is that the person placing the picks each week must be in-person at The Westgate Superboook.
For those out-of-town players, that presents a unique geographical problem. A person can either drive or fly to Vegas each Saturday morning to submit their weekly entry or hire someone to do it for them.
This special service, known as a proxy, has allowed the contest to explode over the past few years as more and more players are taking advantage of the opportunity to have someone make their picks for them.
Last month, Jay Kornegay, VP of Race and Sports Sportsbook Operations told Sports Action that “the SuperContest is on another record setting pace. We’re currently 40% over last year’s (1854 entries) number which would easily surpass the 2,071 needed for our first Million Dollar Champion.”
With over 2,000 tickets needing to be processed each week, the line at the window can get quite long. That's another reason why having someone make your picks is attractive.
For nearly a decade, "Vegas Matty" Simo and his business partner Toni Law have run their SuperContest Proxy Service allowing players to match their NFL picking skills up against the best sports handicappers in the country.
This weekend, the Westgate SportsBook throws their annual SuperContest Kick-Off Weekend, complete with sports handicapping seminars and a golf outing.
Before all the fun got going here in Vegas, we had a chance to ask Matty about his business, how the tournament has changed over the years, and what will this year be like for the field.
Sports Action: How long as your company been in business and how long have you been in Vegas?
Matty: FootballContestProxy.com started in 2009 after my partner Toni Law and I decided to join forces and proxy for as many people as possible. I moved back to Vegas in 2005 and served as a proxy for a handful of people (as did Toni) before we teamed up. In 2013, I bought www.FootballContest.com and built a more comprehensive website covering Vegas football contests to give out-of-staters as much information as possible regarding how they could enter.
When someone asks what your company does, how do you describe what you do?
I tell them that we allow them to enter the contest by submitting picks on their behalf. All they have to do is find a way to get out to Vegas sometime between July 1 and the Saturday before the NFL season kicks off to sign up in-person. We are here to take part of the stress out of competing in the SuperContest, allowing them to simply pick winners.
How have you seen the SuperContest change over the years and has it made you more or less of a fan of the NFL?
The growth of social media has allowed more people to find out about the SuperContest than ever before. We have tried to put ourselves out there front and center as the authority on Vegas football contests and educate others on how to enter using a proxy. So many people have told me they didn't know they could enter with a proxy.
What is the secret to being successful in the SuperContest in your opinion and how big do you think the contest could get?
It changes from year to year as far as the handicapping angle goes, but sticking to your guns and not getting rattled when the pressure is on are probably the two most important things for every contestant. I have seen so many people change their strategies with a bad week rather than keeping the faith in themselves, especially down the stretch.
How do you think the Gold $5,000 winner-take-all level to the contest will change this this year and do you have any customers in it?
I think this year there will be somewhere between 50 and 60 entries, and then next year there will be over 100. The Gold contest won't grow like the SuperContest, but there's definitely a market for it, and it will be a success as well.
Describe what your Saturday is like as you enter your client's picks?
My partner Toni enters the picks every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and I double-check every ticket to make sure there are no errors. Without getting into too many details, it's a grind, but we work like a well-oiled machine for 17 weeks. That's the main reason we consider ourselves the top proxy service. We have more than a decade of experience, a proven track record of the most contestants and most winners, and we don't make mistakes.
Is there a way to modernize the contest like allow picks via an app etc?
Yes, I would not be surprised to see the Westgate allow contestants to submit picks on their mobile app as early as next year. But just like making bets from the app, contestants would need to be within the state of Nevada to do so.
You are going to proxy for the last year's winner, what it's like to work with people who have already been successful in this contest?
We've met so many great people over the years, and Damon Graham is certainly one of them. I did an interview with him a few months ago for FootballContest.com and had told him we'd be happy to proxy for him if he didn't want to go down to the Westgate every week even though he is a local. He later contacted us because he wants to travel throughout the season, and we're very excited to have him as one of our newest clients. One thing I want to make clear is that you're not just a number with us, we treat all of our clients like partners and want them all to succeed.
How competitive is the proxy business now that the contest has gotten so popular?
There are more proxy services than ever before, but nobody can handle the volume of clients and grow like we do. Our customer service and responsiveness is second to none, which is why we have the most clients every year.
If someone wants to get involved with the contest through you guys - how can they get in touch?
(Photo courtesy of www.covers.com)