For sports bettors, the Westgate SuperContest has become the holy grail of handicapping competitions. Last year, a record number of entrants forked over $1,500 in hopes of claiming one of the 50 spots that actually return money.
The problem here lies in the fact that the contest didn’t draw 500 entries (where 10% of the field would make the money on 50 pay slots), or 1,000 entries (where 5% of entries would cash). No, the 2017 version of the SuperContest drew 2,748 entries! Paying 50 spots means that just shy of 2% of the field made any sort of return on their money.
The monetary Westgate SuperContest payouts themselves were as asinine as the field percentage. First place paid out $1,327,000, while second place was $531,000. A min-cash — any team finishing in spots 42-50 — was barely more than double your entry, coming in at $3,792. Yes, you’re doing the math correctly. You beat out 2,700 teams (who all paid $1,500) and your profit was a mere $2,292.
But the first-place prize is beyond laughable. $1.327M? Is anybody complaining about turning $1,500 into $1M? Of course not. You could have made someone a millionaire while pumping over $327,000 into the rest of the payouts and been better off anyway! $1M to first place is more marketable. It’s cleaner. It’s memorable. It’s just better any way you look at it.
Changes in 2018 aren’t changes at all
The Westgate made an announcement this month that it had listened to the complaints from players and a change was going to be made. The 2018 version of the contest will pay…<drumroll>…75 positions! Wow Westgate, you really went all-in with making this more player friendly.
This ‘change’ really isn’t a change at all. The contest is very likely to draw more entries than last year (2017 drew nearly 900 more entries than 2016), making the 75 payout spots the same field percentage as the 50 payout spots from last year.
And why put a hard number of payout slots on the contest anyway? Why can’t it pay 5% or 10% of the field … no matter how many entries? Why can’t Westgate learn from the poker industry who tried, and failed, at super topheavy payout structures? You have to think about keeping money in the ecosystem. You have to think about providing more people with a positive contest experience. You have to consider not being so set in your ways that you ignore an obvious and much-needed fix to your growing entity.
If the SuperContest doesn’t change its ways, it will suffer the same fate as several pioneers across a myriad of different industries. A good idea is poorly run and eventually eclipsed by someone taking your idea and executing it better.
The SuperContest is no different. With sports betting legalization on the horizon, there will be new contests. Those contests will utilize everything good about the SuperContest, and quickly trash the bad. And with that, leaving the SuperContest a relic, and the folks at the Westgate wondering why they didn’t just listen to the players.