Casino Owner’s March Madness Bet Could Be $1 Million Slam Dunk

Written By Martin Derbyshire on March 22, 2017 - Last Updated on March 23, 2017

[toc]A Downtown Las Vegas casino owner is betting big on March Madness.

The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate Casino owner Derek Stevens stands to win more than $1 million if Michigan wins this year’s NCAA mens’ basketball tournament.

Stevens, a University of Michigan alumnus, bet $12,500 on the Wolverines to win the National Championship. In fact, he placed the bet at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas, just up Fremont Street from his two properties.

Long odds on the Wolverines

Golden Nugget was offering 80-to-1 odds on a Michigan win at the time Stevens placed the bet.

Apparently, Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta personally approved the wager.

According to the pay out slip posted on Stevens’ Twitter account, the bet would pay out $1,012,500 if Michigan can go all the way. The win would reportedly be the largest ever paid out by Golden Nugget’s sports book.

Sports bet goes viral

The story of Stevens’ bet has gone viral. Newspapers across the country are reporting on the wager, including the Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Detroit Free Press and The Denver Post.

Sweet 16 starts this weekend

Seventh-seeded Michigan already advanced to the Sweet 16 after upsetting No. 2 seed Louisville on Sunday. They also beat Oklahoma State this past Friday. As a result, the Big Ten Conference championship team opened up as favorites over the higher-seeded Oregon in this Thursday’s Sweet 16 game.

Stevens also wagered $11,000 on each of the first 32 games of the tournament. He did this during a live broadcast on with famed sportscaster Brent Musburger. However, he went 10-19-3, losing $109,000.

Odds on Michigan to win the tournament have reportedly dropped to 18-to-1 heading into this weekend’s NCAA tournament action, which is much lower than the 80-1 Stevens obtained.

The remaining March Madness field

The Sweet 16 begins on Thursday and continues on Friday. Next comes the Elite Eight, which begins on Saturday and continues on Sunday until the Final Four is set. The Final Four runs in Phoenix, AZ from April 1-3, with the Championship game set for April 3.

Michigan needs just four more victories for Stevens to win the bet. If Michigan does defeat Oregon, it will face the winner of the match between the Kansas Jayhawks and Purdue University Boilermakers.

Outside of Michigan and Oregon, the other teams in the Sweet 16 include (seeding is in parentheses):

  • Wisconsin (8)
  • Florida (4)
  • South Carolina (7)
  • Baylor (3)
  • Kansas (1)
  • Purdue (4)
  • West Virginia (4)
  • Gonzaga (1)
  • Xavier (11)
  • Arizona (2)
  • North Carolina (1)
  • Butler (4)
  • UCLA (3)
  • Kentucky (2)

This weekend’s games will be played in New York, NY, Kansas City, MO, Memphis, TN, and San Jose, CA.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is a single-elimination tournament comprised of 68 Division I college basketball teams from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Each year it plays down to a National Champion.

Last year, the Villanova Wildcats won the 2016 National Championship. They beat the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 in the championship game to capture the title.

Photo credit: Richard Paul Kane /

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire is an award-winning journalist, video and film producer with a decade of experience covering the brick and mortar casino, poker and iGaming industries. He has produced content for top media outlets including PokerNews, Bluff Magazine and PokerListings, and has crossed the globe scooping stories and interviewing major players in all corners of the high-stakes gambling world.

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