Alex Brandon / AP
Friday, Oct. 7, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Those who miss daily fantasy football wagering can walk up to a sports betting window and place a bet on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to win, place or show in a USFantasy contest this weekend.
A hybrid of daily fantasy football and pari-mutuel wagering on horse races, USFantasy offers contests in which bettors wager among themselves. Like the horses, each of about a dozen athletes in a contest is assigned an opening line which is adjusted in real time as wagers come in. Like fantasy sports, points are accumulated as the player racks up statistics: one point for each passing, rushing and receiving yard, and 30 points for touchdown passes, rushes and receptions.
Shredding the Carolina defense, Atlanta Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan won by many lengths in one of the Week 4 contests. In the 12-quarterback field, Ryan opened at 14-to-1 and closed at 15-to-1. He finished with 503 passing yards, 14 rushing yards and four touchdown passes, compiling 637 points. A $2 bet on Ryan paid $33.20 to win, $11.40 to place and $14.60 to show. The Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, who closed at 7-to-1, finished in second with 459 points. The favorite, the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, at 9-to-2, finished third.
There are also running back and wide receiver contests each week. The longest shot of Week 4 was Michael Crabtree. A $2 bet on the Oakland wide receiver to win paid $228.60.
Providers of daily fantasy sports were banned from the state last October, but the Nevada Gaming Commission approved USFantasy Sports’s pari-mutuel betting system in June. USFantasy differs from DFS market leaders DraftKings and FanDuel daily fantasy sports in that bettors are always aware of the odds to win in real time, just like in horse racing.
USFantasy, based in Henderson, also offers more exotic wagers across contests to mirror what you’d find at the track. To win a daily double, you must pick the winners of two contests. To win an exacta, you must pick the first two placed athletes to finish in that exact order in a single contest. There are also pick threes, trifectas, superfectas and the $1 Pick-7 to win $1 million.
To win $1 million, you must select the winner of seven selected contests. If no wagers in the Pick-7 have all seven winners, a consolation payoff (25 percent of the pool) is awarded to the wagers that have selected the most winners and the remaining is held over to the next week’s pool for that contest.
Contest odds and results are continuously updated at the USFantasy website, but bets must be made in person at participating sports books. They include the Cosmopolitan, Hard Rock, Palms, the M Resort, Silverton, The Linq, Flamingo Las Vegas, Paris Las Vegas, Sam’s Town, Suncoast, Gold Coast, The Orleans, Fremont, Bally’s Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood and the Rio.
Those who bet the horses intuitively know how to play, USFantasy President Victor Salerno says. “Other people, it takes a little while for them to understand pari-mutuel. The odds can change; they can go up as well as go down. But you can see the opportunity. The biggest difference between us and DraftKings and FanDuel is that we’re very transparent. You can see where the money is going, who’s betting on what.”
Pending regulatory approval, Salerno says he hopes to offer contests for the World Series of Poker final table and e-sports events. Contests will be posted for the upcoming NBA and NHL seasons, Salerno says.
Adding more football contests with smaller fields and expanding to other states are among Salerno’s goals. “In Nevada, I can’t expect to do as much business as I’ll do in a state where sports betting is not legal. We’ll be the only game there,” he said. “Here, we are competing against traditional wagering without a doubt. Nevada brings us a lot. It gives us credibility in the other states. The ultimate goal is to have a pool that would be nationwide.”
Salerno, who was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame at last year’s Global Gaming Expo, came to Las Vegas in the late 1970s to take over Leroy’s Horse & Sports Place from his father-in-law, and he replaced handwritten betting tickets with a computerized betting system a few years later. He is credited as being one of the first operators to provide telephone account wagering, developing the first self-service sports-wagering kiosk and creating Nevada’s first mobile sports betting app.
The contests, offered at only a few locations at the beginning of the NFL season, will be in more than 60 venues within the next couple of weeks, Salerno says. “The idea is to appeal to everybody and keep it simple,” Salerno said. “Smart people are going to look at factors such as weather conditions, what team they’re playing, who’s out with injuries. A not-so-sophisticated person who just loves the Packers is (just) going to play Aaron Rodgers.”