Prior to Week 1, the American Gaming Association projected that 73.5 million U.S. adults, or about 28% of U.S. adults, planned to bet on the NFL this season. Despite increasing access to traditional sports betting, one niche that originated in Las Vegas, the Survivor Pool, continues to attract a small but significant portion of the population. According to AGA, 24% of bettors plan to participate in a Survivor Pool or paid fantasy contest.
Survivor Pools appeal to many due to their simplicity. There are no point spreads, totals, or props involved. Participants choose one team to win each week, with the catch being that they cannot choose the same team again. If a participant loses once, they are eliminated from the pool. While the game is easy to understand, there is a fair amount of game theory involved, leading to the game’s popularity.
The business of survivor pools varies depending on who is running them. Circa and Splash, two companies that emerged after sports betting was legalized nationally, have different approaches. Circa Sports, owned by Las Vegas veteran Derek Stevens, sees their Survivor contest as a giant advertisement for their brand. They don’t cover any part of the $1,000 entry fee, resulting in a massive pot for the last person standing. In contrast, Splash’s Survivor contest aims for a more general audience and is central to their revenue model. They allow contestants to use real money within their app, creating a different experience from traditional sports betting.
Despite the rise of traditional sports betting, Survivor pools remain popular due to their sociability and accessibility. Participants can compete against each other rather than against the house, fostering community engagement. The format of Survivor Pools has evolved over time, moving from simple friend groups to multi-million dollar contests. The simplicity of the game makes it easy to learn but difficult to master, ensuring its relevance in the NFL betting ecosystem.
Front Office Sports is hosting the NFL Survivor Contest in partnership with Splash Sports.