Helping Adults with Disabilities Live Independent Lives is the Priority
While Las Vegas long ago cemented its status as a sports betting and entertainment capital, it has, in recent years, become much more recognized for the legions of fans that call the city home. Not only are they united in support of the city’s championship-caliber teams, but also the causes and campaigns that sustain a community far beyond the world famous Strip.
“Las Vegas is a very giving city,” says Adam Joseph, Vice President of Philanthropy for Opportunity Village, a 65-year-old community staple that exists to empower the lives of intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals.
For the second straight year, the organization is partnering with Las Vegas-based CG Technology Sportsbooks for the Picks for OV: Football Fever sports betting contest, in which local entertainers, athletes, professional gamblers, dignitaries, and other famous faces will go head-to-head – with their local fan bases behind them – in a football handicapping contest for the 2019-20 National Football League season.
Every week, they’ll choose five teams to win against the spread, with lines supplied by CG Technology Sportsbooks. When the 17-week season wraps, the winner will be crowned, with the proceeds benefiting Opportunity Village.
In a season that’s expected to feature a number of must-watch storylines – Patrick Mahomes’ MVP encore, the Patriots’ quest to repeat with a 42-year-old Tom Brady, and John Gruden’s further tinkering of the Raiders roster, among others – the real drama worth following will be inside CG Technology’s sportsbooks, as participants go head-to-head for the title of Las Vegas’ savviest sports handicapper.
“From a pure fundraising standpoint, this is one of the most intriguing things that our organization has ever done,” Joseph explains. “It is 17 weeks of nonstop action and a level of excitement that just keeps building and building.”
Forming a Winning Partnership
CG Technology Sportsbooks signed on as the presenting sponsor of Picks for OV during the contest’s inaugural campaign in 2018. Joseph says his organization had been looking for a partner with similar, close-knit ties to the Las Vegas community, as well as the experience and infrastructure, to support a season-length campaign.
“What I love about CG is that they are locally based with sportsbooks in the community – Palms, Silverton, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino,” Joseph says. “They are in the areas in which we are helping adults with disabilities.
“And with their footprint on the Strip, tourists can come in and see both of our organizations together. To us, that’s the community connection that we were looking for.”
Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin emerged the victor of the inaugural 2018 contest with a 49-34-2 season, besting a field of friendly competitors that included, among others, former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes, FOX Sports Radio host TC Martin, 98.5 KLUC morning show host Chet Buchanan, and International Boxing Hall of Fame announcer Al Bernstein.
The pool of participants proved to be one of the most exciting aspects of the contest. Fans following along using the hashtag #PicksforOV were able to see the players express their joy and frustration with the weekly results, including Goodman’s infamous proclamation that, “The games I’ve lost are clearly fixed!”
Still, no one could argue with Griffin’s handicapping skills. “That’s a real challenge, trying to pick five games versus the spread for 17 weeks in a row,” Joseph says. “And what Forrest Griffin did was amazing.”
The campaign raised $20,000 for Opportunity Village, including a $10,000 donation from CG Technology Sportsbooks. Those proceeds, Joseph explains, will go toward the myriad of services that the organization provides: vocational training, day-habilitation services for adults with disabilities, and job placement programs.