Reno, Nevada-based Monarch Monarch Casino’s Colorado online sportsbook has been levied a fine of $400,000 for accepting proxy bets from nearly a dozen bettors. The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission imposed the penalty because taking or placing bets for another person is illegal in Colorado. The sportsbook is operated out of Monarch Black Hawk Casino in Black Hawk, Co.
The bets were taken over the company’s sports betting app, BetMonarch. The company announced on Thursday that it would switch its geolocation provider from the current app provider, Stadium Solutions – a provider of sportsbetting platforms owned by Entain – to a near monopoly holder in the vertical in the United States, GeoComply.
According to an article found on CIOReview, a leading print and digital magazine for enterprise technology vendors & buyers, the State of Delaware also uses Stadium enterprise solutions but makes no mention of geolocation services. The review appears to claim that the company provides a platform to 17 of 21 sportsbetting host systems in Nevada.
Geolocation Not Usually so Easily Defeated
Geolocation services normally track the GPS location of a mobile phone and use other data such as nearby WiFi traffic to identify the phone’s location within a state’s boundaries with near absolute certainty. Proxy betting is one of if not the only ways to defeat the safeguards. Proxy betting is also used in land-based casinos, especially in Asia, to defeat travel restrictions as well as for unscrupulous actors to collect commissions on bets placed by high rollers from out of the area.
The breaches were purportedly discovered by the operator in June and self-reported to the regulator, resulting in the negotiated settlement.
The ensuing investigation found that more than $60,000 in wagers were placed for customers by three Monarch employees over about a year and a half spanning January 2021 through June 2022. Almost 80 bets were placed for 11 bettors in violation of the prohibition.
The company’s online sportsbook manager reportedly placed 60 of those bets after accessing the registered gamblers’ accounts. The manager and two other lead persons in the sportsbook division were suspended when the activity was discovered and later all three were fired.
Most of the bets came from players who were out of state at the time the bets were placed. Due to federal laws criminalizing interstate sports betting, geolocation services are critical to a provider’s compliance with state law as laws in every state are only passed to allow intra-state sportsbetting if operators can guarantee no out-of-state bets can be placed.
It’s unclear how the switch to GeoComply from Stadium will solve the problem going forward due to intellectual property rights and trade secrets. The Stadium system was defeated fairly easily and Geocomply may have other layers of security as it is a stand-alone solution whereas Stadium’s was part of an entire enterprise solution and management system.
System Didn’t Analyze Transactions Deeply Enough
However, the settlement 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.”
In the aforementioned CIO review, it stated that the “CEO of Stadium Solutions emphasized the complexity involved in creating [the]
holistic solution, with multiple validations to be performed even before a wager is taken while
In one case at Monarch, a patron in Florida contacted the sportsbook manager to help him place a bet and within minutes the gambler had sent his username and password to the manager in an SMS.
The bettor was able to make a deposit and within minutes a bet was made through his account. Investigators were able to determine that the manager placed the bet on his own work cellphone from within the state’s boundaries with the manager’s home address recorded via GPS at that time.
Several months later the same client sent the manager screenshots of the bets he wanted to place and nearly 50 bets were placed from within Colorado.
The settlement agreement stated: “Many of the screenshots displayed the time, which was two hours ahead of Mountain time, indicating [the patron]
was not in Colorado
The client was interviewed nearly a year later and admitted to officials that he was in Florida when the bets were placed. It’s unclear if any federal crimes are being investigated at this time.
Monarch received a $5,000 fine for each illegally placed bet as well as another fine of $5,000. The company has 10 days to pay half of the fine with the other half suspended for two years unless another violation occurs in that time.
Source: Monarch Fined $400K for Proxy Betting, Switches to GeoComply for Geolocation Services, Casino.org, February 17, 2023