Monarch Fined $400K for Proxy Betting, Switches to GeoComply for Geolocation Services

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Posted on: February 17, 2023, 07:01h. 

Last updated on: February 17, 2023, 12:15h.

Monarch Casino & Resort has retained GeoComply to provide geolocation services for its Colorado online sports betting site, Casino.org has learned.

Monarch Black Hawk Casino
The Monarch Black Hawk Casino in Black Hawk, Colo. On Thursday, the BetMonarch sports betting app announced GeoComply will provide geolocation services for its app in Colorado. The Colorado casino agreed to a $400K fine after it uncovered proxy betting violations. (Image: MonarchBlackHawk.com)

The announcement came on Thursday, the same day the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission approved a $400K fine levied against the Monarch Black Hawk Casino, which operates the sportsbook. The fine was to settle violations the casino discovered last year after it learned employees accepted sports bets by proxy.

Proxy betting, where a person places a wager for another individual, is prohibited in Colorado.

GeoComply is a Canadian-based company that offers geolocation services and other fraud prevention and cybersecurity solutions for companies in the entertainment, financial, and gaming sectors.

The issues highlighted at today’s Commission meeting underscore that operators must thoroughly consider and address all the critical compliance risks associated with running a regulated online sportsbook,” GeoComply Senior Vice President of Compliance Lindsay Sadler said in a statement to Casino.org. “GeoComply is pleased to now work with BetMonarch and act as its geolocation service provider.

“Our anti-fraud tools are purpose-built to analyze data in real-time and stop suspected proxy betting and other fraud. BetMonarch joins our other customers in Colorado that utilize our solutions to provide complete geolocation compliance assurance.”

Proxy Wagers Made for 11 Bettors

According to the agreement reached between Monarch Casino Resort Spa — the Black Hawk venue owned by Reno-based Monarch Casino & Resort —  and the Colorado Division of Gaming, the casino became aware of the proxy betting last June and reported the issue to state regulators.

During the investigation, the division uncovered evidence that three Monarch employees placed 79 proxy wagers valued at more than $60K for 11 different bettors. That was during a 17-month period between January 2021 and June 2022. Of those, 60 bets were placed online by then-sportsbook manager Nicholas Epstein. The agreement stated Epstein accessed patrons’ mobile BetMonarch accounts to place the bets.

Epstein and sportsbook leads Brian Lopez and Ted Kilgore were suspended once Monarch discovered the proxy betting violations. According to the agreement, they were later fired.

Majority of Wagers for Out-of-State Bettors

In one instance, a Denver-based bettor, identified only as Patron B, was in Florida on Feb. 2, 2021, and contacted Epstein for help placing a bet. Minutes later, that bettor sent Epstein his login and password information via text message.

According to the investigation, Patron B deposited $1,000 into his account at 8:58 pm. Three minutes later, a bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was made through the bettor’s account. It was determined that Epstein placed the bet using his work cell phone, with geolocation data showing the device at Epstein’s home at the time.

In November of the same year, the bettor’s account showed 49 bets involving more than $5,600 were placed on the account. For 46 wagers, the bettor sent Epstein screenshots from the app indicating the bets he wanted to make.

“Many of the screenshots displayed the time, which was two hours ahead of Mountain time, indicating Patron B was not in Colorado,” the agreement stated.

In an October 2022 interview with division officials, the bettor admitted he was in Florida.

In all, state investigators determined that 57 of the proxy bets were placed for bettors who were physically out of the state when the wagers were made.

The agreement stated that Monarch had used Stadium Technology Group for geolocation services.

The Division learned through its investigation and discussion with Respondent that Stadium did not perform gelocation checks when patrons logged on, deposited money, or withdrew money through their BetMonarch mobile account,” the agreement stated. “Stadium did not analyze geolocation transactions to detect the use of multiple device IDs and unrealistic location ‘jumping’ in order to identify potential proxy bets for out-of-state patrons.”

Entain owns Stadium Technology Group. A message seeking comment was not immediately returned.

How Colorado Calculated the Fine

Monarch was fined $5,000 for each of the proxy bets placed. It received an additional $5,000 fine for other violations uncovered during the investigation.

According to the agreement, half of the fine is due to the state within 10 days of the commission’s acceptance. The remainder will be held “in abeyance” for two years. Monarch will pay it if it commits any additional violations during that period.

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