On Friday nights in the fall for more than a decade, football bettors would crowd a small, smoky sportsbook on the Strip to see two handicappers go head to head in a $10,000 winner-take-all contest. The contestants’ names were lit up outside on the marquee, adding an element of prestige to being a part of the Stardust Invitational.
The contest concluded after the 2005 season — the Stardust closed on Nov. 1, 2006 and its two hotel towers were imploded in March 2007 — and it has been missed.
So it’s time to bring back memories of an old friend. In a tip of the cap to the Stardust Invitational, Circa owner Derek Stevens is putting up his money and putting his support behind a new VSIN-produced event, the Circa Friday Football Invitational.
The theme is the same, but the contest format is slightly different and improved. While there are still 16 handicappers in a bracket, all contestants are involved each week in a season-long competition, as opposed to the Stardust format that pitted only two handicappers a week in a head-to-head elimination duel. Stevens has boosted the prize money to $25,000.