Derek Stevens has been known to place up to a $1,000 bet on an NFL game, but he’s never made a bet this big.
Stevens, owner of The D and Golden Gate hotels in Las Vegas, walked into the Golden Nugget casino in Las Vegas back in December and bet $20,000 on Michigan State to win it all. At 50-1 odds, the payout would be a cool $1 million. With the Spartans having an underwhelming 8-3 record at the time, Golden Nugget sportsbook director Tony Miller had to figure that the odds were in his favor, so despite it being a larger bet than they normally allow, Miller quickly got the casino owner’s approval and the bet was made official.
Of course, that was four months before Michigan State’s flawless run through their portion of the NCAA tournament bracket, and with only two wins to go, Miller is now beginning to sweat it out a bit.
“This would be a massive loss for us,” Miller said. “I see days where we lose $10,000 to $30,000, but nothing close to $1 million.”
Stevens has not yet decided whether or not he will hedge his bet in order to collect money regardless of how Michigan State fares in its next two games, but he does have a plan if the Spartans win out.
“I’ll give some bonus money to my employees,” Stevens said. “I also want to give some money to the [Jerry] Tarkanian Basketball Academy, and the rest I will reinvest in my properties.”
The Nevada Gaming Commission forbids owners of hotels to place bets at their own establishments, which is why Stevens placed his bet at the Golden Nugget rather than one of his own hotels. But as neighbors in Las Vegas’s downtown neighborhood on Fremont Street, Stevens and Miller are actually friends, and they even watched Michigan State’s Sweet 16 game together.
Only time will tell if these next two games puts that friendship to the test.