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New Downtown resort Circa’s planned sportsbook sounds like a game changer

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A rendering of Circa’s sportsbook, set to open next December
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A collection of drawn-upon napkins that might someday belong in a hypothetical Sportsbook Hall of Fame rest in Derek Stevens' home office. The scribbles on top of the thin pieces of cloth represent the origins of what the Downtown casino owner promises will be the world's largest sportsbook at the currently under-construction Circa Las Vegas resort.

"I think we probably designed the sportsbook 30-40 times at the bar before we ever got to an architect," Stevens says. "It was just going to the bar with a napkin and some creative ideas."

Circa is scheduled to open in December 2020 at the intersection of Main and Fremont streets, where it will break a recent Vegas tradition of new resorts treating sportsbooks as a minor amenity for customers.

Circa's sportsbook won't be tucked away in a corner off the casino floor. It will be a centerpiece of the property, occupying three levels and housing what Stevens suggests could be the world's largest television—a three-story-tall, high-definition screen that ESPN reports will come with a price tag around $20 million. Live betting odds will be posted on digital screens in several spots throughout the resort's 1.25 million square-foot radius, pushing gamblers toward the mobile betting app.

"We're going to be about sports every single day," Stevens promises.

That extends to Circa's other much-anticipated feature: its rooftop pool deck. Stevens says that, similar to the sportsbook, the pool area will be designed like a theater. Six pools are planned, stretching across 18 feet from front to back on three tiered levels to maximize sightlines. Sporting events will take precedence on a screen at the front, which Stevens says will be three times as big as the 72-foot LED video wall currently used for watch parties at his Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.

"I don't know if it's going to be the biggest outdoor screen in the country, but if it's not, it's damn close," Stevens says. "It's going to give people an opportunity to watch and bet sports from the pool. It's a secondary area, but frankly, it's an area that can hold more people than our sportsbook."

Stevens shouldn't have any concerns regarding the bookmaking at his new shop, considering he's already got a team up and running. Circa Sports opened for business in June with locations at Stevens' other two casinos, the D Las Vegas and the Golden Gate. Stevens has brought on an all-star team of bookmakers, including industry veterans Matt Metcalf, Matt Lindeman and Chris Bennett, who have helped implement features to entice big-money bettors. Among Circa's unique offerings are future pools with low hold percentages and "yes or no" prices on every team to win the championship.

Circa Sports' betting handle over its first six months of operation exceeded expectations, Stevens says. "Innovation has been the key thing driving people toward us. We thought there was room in the market to put out numbers that we thought would be very competitive, more competitive than what the market previously had. I think there's some benefit to connecting with VSiN [Vegas Sports and Information Network]. That's helped launch us, too."

Stevens is an investor in VSiN, the South Point Casino-based sports-betting media company founded by broadcaster Brent Musburger. VSiN will operate a new studio on the third floor of the Circa sportsbook, with additional space there available for other media outlets.

The whole design is rooted in an effort to give sports fans and bettors a grandiose experience. A few napkins couldn't come close to containing everything Circa Las Vegas' sportsbook has in store.

"We really designed something from a sports perspective that will be both visually stunning, as well as acoustically stunning," Stevens says. "I want people to go back home to main-street America and say, 'I had a great day watching football. I was in this location and it was the best place I've ever watched games at in my life,' and tell a few people about that."

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