Football And Gambling: Kissing Cousins

As much as the National Football League and the NCAA would like you to believe otherwise, there's no denying the unofficial — some would say unavoidable — link between college and professional football and the concept of wagering on said sports.

Go to any sports book in Las Vegas, and football is far and wide the most active sport in terms of bets placed. And though sports betting isn't "legal" anywhere else in the U.S., ambitious bettors who shall not be named specifically know there are plenty of offshore-based online sites that will gladly take your bets.

Such betting exists for any and all sports, but football is by far the king.

There is no official form of sports gambling in Arizona, but thanks to the promotions people at Tucson's local casinos, you've essentially got the next best thing: the prospect of free money that is loosely linked to college and pro football. And to spending time in the casinos.

Both Casino del Sol and Desert Diamond Casino have football-based promos that begin this week, and some of them even come with the "no purchase necessary" tag, if you can believe it.

At DDC, you've got two options: you can test your skill at picking the winners of NFL games, for the chance of winning free play in the slot machines; or you can just be a UA football ticket holder and rake in the free play for simply going to games.

DDC has enhanced its Cats Play, We Play promo this fall, putting a premium on the UA winning its games. Present a ticket stub from a Wildcats home game within three days of the contest and get at least $10 in slot play. If Arizona won the game, though, it's upped to $20.

(Writer's note: I might be swayed to sell my second ticket to each game for $9 or $17 in cash, depending on the outcome each week.)

The Pick The Pros campaign begins Friday, even though the first NFL game isn't until Sept. 4. Picks are made via kiosks inside the casino, and if you're among the top 20 in that week's rankings, you get $100 in slot play. Somehow correctly pick 197 of more (!) of the 239 games included in the contest and you'll get a $1 million prize that's paid in 20 annual installments.

Del Sol also has a picks contest, dubbed the Kickoff Pickoff, but unlike last year's similar promo this time around you're not limited to just one entry per NFL week. You can enter a seemingly infinite number of times, and make different picks, as you get one entry per day that you swipe your player's card at the casino kiosk. You can also get additional entries if you collect enough points on your card in a day.

Del Sol's weekly prizes are tiered, with $2,500 in free play given out each week and $1,000 of that going to the top picker. There's also $1,500 free play "quarterly" performance prizes, and the season's overall winner is guaranteed $5,000 in cash. If that winner gets 210 (!!) of the 239 games right, though, the prize jumps to a milly.

Del Sol also has brought back its uber-popular scratch-off game for NFL and college games that are broadcast in the poker room. If you're in a live game, you get a ticket, and if the last digit of each team's scores matches what's on your card you can win straight cash homey for each quarter.

Expect both casinos to bring forth similar promotions come college basketball season, too.