After losing big last year on his alma mater, Detroit native and Las Vegas casino magnate, Derek Stevens (pictured), is once again in for a massive payday if his Michigan Wolverines win the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Last year, Stevens, who graduated from the University of Michigan in 1990 and in 1994 received an MBA from Wayne State University, wagered a hefty $12,500 on then seventh-seeded Michigan to win the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for him, the Wolverines were put out of the tournament after losing 68-69 to Oregon on March 23.
This year, however, the prominent U of M alum doubled up before his John Beilein-led Wolverines won the Big 10 Conference tourney to advance to the Final Four this weekend, placing a $25,000 bet at 40-1 odds on March 3. Taking the action again was the Golden Nugget, owned by Tilman Fertitta, who also owns Landry’s and the Houston Rockets. Fertitta personally approved last year’s bet that could’ve cost his Nugget a cool million.
Stevens told the Detroit Free Press that over the years, Fertitta has been willing to take a couple of big bets. “About a month (ago) I was talking to him and I said ‘I’d like to take a shot at winning a million.’ We went back and forth and he finally said ‘yes I’ll take it,” said Stevens
Stevens, who owns the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, Golden Gate Hotel and Casino and the D Las Vegas, is just two wins away from a $1 million pay-day if his No. 3 seed Wolverines can beat No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago on Saturday and advance to the championship game on Monday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas to meet either No. 1 seed Villanova or Kansas.
Now it appears as though Stevens is considering hedging the bet as he took to Twitter on March 25 to pose the question to March Madness fans, “do I Hedge or should I let it roll??” Michigan being a -5 point favorite against the Cinderella Loyola-Chicago in the national semifinal on Saturday presents a golden opportunity for the 49-year-old to do just that, because the Ramblers are +200 on the money line, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
CBS Sports reports that 51% of the people who voted on the Twitter poll think Stevens should let it roll and not hedge the bet.
Should he take the advice and Michigan manages the upset, Stevens reportedly told the Detroit Free Press that he plans to re-invest the money “in building a new casino in downtown Las Vegas.”
“I have the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino and I have the D Las Vegas, which a lot of people from Detroit come to watch Tigers or Pistons. I’m in the process of building a third casino,” said Stevens.
The Golden Nugget would suffer its biggest loss ever if Michigan wins and Stevens lets his $25k bet ride through Monday night, having never exceeded a payout of $100,000, according to a press release attributed to Tony Miller, director of the Race & Sports Book at the Golden Nugget, reports the Detroit Free Press.