Derek Stevens’ Circa Sports Finally Gets A Vegas Launch Date

Written By Marc Meltzer on April 25, 2019

It’s the news that frequent Las Vegas sports bettors have been waiting for.

Derek Stevens is the owner of The D, Golden Gate and Circa casinos in downtown Las Vegas. But he can soon add sportsbook operator to his list of accomplishments.

Stevens will launch a new sportsbook operation called Circa Sports on June 1. This will be the first new sportsbook operator with this many landbased casinos in Las Vegas in nearly 10 years.

PlayUSA talked with Stevens and Circa Sportsbook Director Matt Metcalf to learn more about the exciting new sports betting option coming soon to Las Vegas.

The basics on Circa Sports

  • The new sportsbook operation begins on June 1 at the new sportsbook at Golden Gate Casino
  • A mobile app using the Stadium Technology platform will be available on June 1
  • The D will open a new sportsbook in late June
  • Circa Las Vegas will open with a new sportsbook in December 2020
  • Circa Sports will announce a football and other contests after launch
  • Horse racing wagers will be limited to major races

Where did Circa Sports come from?

Stevens is an avid sports fan and bettor. He glows when speaking of the first time he walked into the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook (now Westgate SuperBook). He fondly remembers the days of the Stardust sportsbook and wants to bring the classic Las Vegas sports betting experience to his new sportsbooks.

Stevens actually wanted to start taking bets when he purchased the Golden Gate casino in 2006. He thought about the idea after purchasing Fitzgeralds and opening The D Las Vegas in 2012. He decided that William Hill handling sports betting would be better at the time.

The two casinos couldn’t provide enough betting volume to make the venture work until plans to open Circa became a reality. The new casino under construction across the street from the Golden Gate will have a massive sportsbook with seating for approximately 500 people and the largest sportsbook TV screen in any sportsbook.

Combined, the three casinos will give Circa Sports the volume necessary to absorb the ups and downs of sports betting.

Big wins and contests with Circa Sports

Personally, Stevens has had a wild ride in sports betting. Last year he had a $25,000 wager at on the University of Michigan to win the college basketball championship at 40-1. If the Wolverines won it all, he would have taken home $1 million dollars.

He didn’t win that wager but the excitement of the potentially astronomical win is part of what is driving Circa Sports. He wants other bettors to be able to have an equally thrilling experience when they visit with his sportsbooks.

Similar to giving away cars for casino gamblers, Circa Sports is planning to have contests with huge prizes. Circa Sports will also announce a football contest shortly that will compare with the popular Westgate SuperContest.

One difference with this football contest from the SuperContest will be that participants will be able to make picks on the mobile app.

Stevens might curtail his personal sports betting since he’ll be sweating from the other side of the sportsbook. Instead of the excitement of turning $25,000 into $1,000,000, he’ll feel the rush from not losing that million dollar payout.

Metcalf says that Circa Sports plans to be aggressive with limits. Stevens added that they’ll offer higher limits for big bettors in the casino because they want more people to experience the atmosphere in the sportsbooks.

Big events in and around The D

Big events aren’t just fun to attend but they can be a way to monetize sports betting. In addition to the casinos, Stevens owns the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center across the street from The D.

The venue hosts many events throughout the year including watch parties for the Super Bowl, Las Vegas Raiders and Vegas Golden Knights. Meanwhile, The D is home to packed March Madness parties, fantasy draft parties and more.

All of these events are already popular and Stevens will be able to monetize any sports betting that takes place at The D. The two venues will work together for sports bettors. New bettors will have to visit the sportsbook at The D to place wagers or fund a mobile account since remote funding isn’t legal in Nevada.

Not coincidentally, The D will renovate their sportsbook and bar area on the second floor. The new sportsbook at The D will open towards the end of June.

Circa Sports HQ at the Golden Gate

Circa Sports opens for business the same day that a new sportsbook opens at the Golden Gate casino. The casino and sportsbook (shown in the rendering above) will be the home base for Circa Sports. Metcalf and his staff will be based at the Golden Gate.

The sportsbook at the Golden Gate will be appropriately small for the casino. The low ceilings and compacted energy from all of the gamblers are unmatched by most casinos. This should continue into the sportsbook.

Stevens and Metcalf expect the intense environment will give guests that special feeling of a great, traditional Las Vegas sportsbook experience. They note that most bettors around the country won’t get to see this kind of action in their local market.

Circa Sports mobile for Las Vegas sports betting

Circa Sports will have a mobile app available when it opens on June 1. The app will be 100% created by Stadium Technology. This is the same company that many Nevada sportsbooks use for the backend of their Nevada sports wagering apps. CG Technology is the only company that uses Stadium Technology for the entire app.

Customers must visit a casino to sign up. New customers will receive a signup bonus that will be revealed closer to the opening. Bettors can expect to see more promotions for the app after it’s launched.

A unique feature with this app will be the ability to also make contest picks. The other football contests in Nevada make participants make picks in person or through a proxy.

Horse racing

Circa Sports has a pari-mutuel license to offer wagering on daily horse racing. However, they won’t be using that license right away, if ever. The new sportsbook operation only plans to book wagers on major horse races like the Kentucky Derby and other Triple Crown races themselves.

Pari-mutuel horse racing has been leaving Las Vegas sportsbooks for a couple of years. The reason to hold off on daily horse betting for Circa Sports is simple: the sportsbooks at Golden Gate and The D won’t be large. With limited seating, there might not be the room in the sportsbooks for both horse and sports bettors.

Circa Sports might begin using the parimutuel license when Circa opens. The new sportsbook will have more than 350 seats on the first level for everyday sports bettors. The second level of the sportsbook will have seating for hundreds more when needed.

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Circa Sports expansion possibilities

Stevens’ plan for Circa Sports starts with the Golden Gate, The D, and soon Circa casinos but the vision doesn’t end there. Stevens says it’s possible that they could expand their service to other sportsbooks in Nevada and beyond at some point.

The initial focus for Circa Sports for his own properties. The markets outside of Nevada are evolving so quickly that they will keep an eye on potentially to getting into other markets at some point.

A lot is going into building two sportsbooks, a casino, and launching a sportsbook operation. They don’t want to get too far ahead of themselves, but will seek to dominate the downtown Las Vegas sports betting scene first.

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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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