Colorado Casino Gets $400K Fine After Employees Place Illegal Bets

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on February 22, 2023
Casino Gets Fine For Illegal Colorado Sports Betting

Monarch Casino has agreed to pay a $400,000 fine for violating multiple Colorado sports betting laws. 

In June 2022, the publicly traded casino operator self-reported an incident involving three of its employees. An investigation found the employees, including the Monarch Sportsbook manager Nicholas Epstein, placed 79 proxy bets between Jan. 7, 2021, and Jun. 15, 2022. 

Authorities set the fine at $5,000 for each proxy bet and another $5,000 for additional violations. Monarch must pay $200,000 within 10 days of the commission accepting the settlement. And then they’ll hold another $200,000 for two years.

However, should the casino violate other rules in that two-year window, the $200,000 will be due immediately. 

Authorities used geolocation to help with investigation

Overall, the 79 illegal bets placed by Brian Lopez, Ted Kilgore and Epstein totaled $60,769.45. Lopez and Kilgore combined to place 19 in-person proxy bets, including the Jun. 15 incident that triggered the investigation. 

The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission detailed one particular customer associated with Epstein that accounted for 50 online proxy bets. Through geolocation data, the investigation uncovered that the device used to place the illegal bets was Epstein’s work cell phone. One bettor based in Florida deposited $1,000 into his BetMonarch account and sent Epstein their login email and password. 

Monarch also failed to follow its internal controls. The Colorado casino requires a manager, assistant manager, or supervisor to always be present in the sportsbook — which it failed to do. Instead, Epstein shared login data with others to let them access systems they otherwise could not.

Illegal Colorado sports betting motivates changes at Monarch

Interim general manager for Monarch Black Hawk, Michelle Shriver, said the company was “utterly disappointed” by the actions of their three former employees. 

“I wanted to have the opportunity to assure the commission that compliance is an integral part of our work at Monarch as is maintaining the highest ethical standards.”

The commission praised Monarch for self-reporting the issue and working with the commission during the investigation. In addition to multiple internal changes, Shriver also said the company would contract with GeoComply for geolocation services. 

Lindsay Slader, GeoComply’s senior VP of compliance, said“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 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.”

Photo by Graphic by PlayUSA
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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