Colorado sports betting couldn’t have had a more difficult start. The coronavirus pandemic took sports away, wiping popular betting lines out along the way. Colorado sportsbooks’ challenges only grew after narrowly missing the chance to offer lines on the 2020 NFL draft. The next major NFL betting events aren’t until fall–and that’s if the NFL season begins on time.
In this environment, Monarch Casino in Black Hawk launched its own in-house sportsbook. It’s the first–and so far, only–Colorado casino to develop and launch its own sportsbook instead of partnering with a sportsbook company. Coupled with its upcoming resort opening, Monarch Casino is positioning itself for an aggressive return once casinos are allowed to reopen.
Why Did Monarch Develop Their Own Sportsbook?
Outsiders may think developing a sportsbook is more expensive than partnering with a sportsbook company. However, Monarch Casino says it emphasizes the importance of keeping things local and in-house whenever possible. “We don’t outsource any of our restaurants. We don’t outsource staff. We didn’t want to outsource our sportsbook, either,” Monarch Chief Operating Officer David Farahi said in an interview with Colorado Sharp.
The required knowledge ahead of launch didn’t come out of nowhere, either. Monarch has run a sportsbook in Nevada long before sports betting was legal in Colorado. With an experienced team, Monarch Casino was able to pull it off. “We’ve been doing it in Nevada. We extended those skills to Colorado,” Farahi said.
Is The Colorado App Different From Nevada’s?
Colorado is a great sports betting market for BetMonarch. In fact, Colorado bettors will enjoy benefits that Nevada bettors can’t. “What’s unique about the Colorado app, and frankly better about the Colorado app, is that people can register and fund their account all from their living room within the state,” Farahi said.
It’s true. In Nevada, bettors must register their mobile accounts and deposit funds in person. First, bettors must fill out an application and submit it by hand, along with a photo ID that confirms their identity. That would sound crazy without the pandemic, but the way sportsbooks have adapted to Nevada’s regulations is spectacular. To accommodate Nevada’s outdated requirements, William Hill opened drive-thru locations for bettors to register accounts and deposit money.
In contrast, Colorado bettors can register for and fund their BetMonarch accounts from their living room couches. It’s a huge advantage for Colorado bettors and sportsbooks, alike. (Those drive-thrus can’t be cheap!)
How BetMonarch Is Competing Against Other Colorado Sportsbooks
Colorado may have a better regulatory environment, but the competition is fierce. The big names that BetMonarch is going up against are:
- Fox Bet
- BetMGM (It’s the result of a partnership between MGM Resorts and Roar Digital. And Roar Digital is joint venture between MGM Resorts and GVC Holdings.)
However, BetMonarch’s loyalty rewards set it apart from four of its five competitors. While sportsbooks like DraftKings have partnerships that let them offer prizes like free Broncos tickets, BetMonarch offers different types of rewards. “People will be able to use our app and earn comp points and tier status when they place a bet with our app, so that they can come in and get free hotel nights, free food, free spa experiences at our resort, and they can’t do that with the other guys, obviously,” said Farahi of DraftKings and FanDuel.
What about BetMGM? Their sportsbook doesn’t offer loyalty rewards. Competing with BetMGM’s sportsbook will likely be a battle between casinos rather than a battle between sportsbooks. If bettors are loyal MGM Grand customers, BetMonarch will be hard-pressed to win them over.
Monarch is preparing to open its brand new $200 million-plus four-star hotel and spa. Coupled with its commitment to not lay off employees, Monarch is preparing to serve its customers with greater attention and luxury than it says its competitors offer. Whether Monarch’s post-coronavirus cash flows will sustain these projects remains to be seen. However, its expansion strategy could pay off if customers flock to the resorts upon reopening. It’s certainly a more aggressive strategy than anything MGM has in the works at the moment.
So How Has BetMonarch’s Colorado Launch Gone?
BetMonarch’s Colorado launch has been slow. However, Monarch Casino has put its slow start to good use. They’re using this time to debug and gather feedback in real time about the app’s performance. “There’s not a whole lot to bet on,” said Farahi. “So, it’s been a good opportunity for us to open up, to work through the initial bugs, and make sure the software is ready for prime time once the major leagues start opening up again.”
In the meantime, BetMonarch has invited select users to download the new app and relied on word-of-mouth to spread the word. However, its marketing efforts are sure to step up once the app has reached a satisfactory performance level. It’s a great way to get real time feedback before bettors visit sportsbooks in droves for professional sports betting this fall. (Assuming they begin on time, of course.)
I’ve tried the app myself, and it works fine. Monarch rewards members who are looking to earn loyalty points in quarantine can register accounts and dive right into wagering with BetMonarch.
Are BetMonarch’s Odds Any Good?
Every new sportsbook brings a potential new leader in odds, and BetMonarch is competitive. Because BetMonarch is developed in-house, it’s able to save on a few costs. Here are the expected profit margins for the Colorado sportsbooks’ lines on South Korean Baseball:
Tigers/Wyverns Expected Profit Margins
|Colorado Sportsbook||Expected Profit Margins|
BetMonarch has the lowest expected profit margin across the four other sportsbooks. (BetMGM didn’t offer lines on these South Korean Baseball games. Another point for BetMonarch.) BetMonarch can afford to accept less profit on each betting line because of its lower cost structure. Those savings primarily go toward bets on the favorite to win. Here are the odds for that same Tigers/Wyverns game:
Tigers/Wyverns Moneyline Odds
|Sportsbook||KIA Tigers||SK Wyverns|
BetMonarch has the best odds on the favorite on this line, and that trend holds across multiple lines. BetMonarch tends to have competitive odds on the favorite. However, the profit it takes on each line varies from taking less than the other sportsbooks to making more than most of them even with competitive odds.
This pattern will likely hold for Major League Baseball, too. “We have eight-cent baseball lines, and a lot of other guys have ten or twelve-cent baseball lines,” said Farahi of BetMonarch’s MLB lines. That means BetMonarch will beat competitors’ odds on the favorite by two to four points. If a competitor is offering -112 odds, BetMonarch will likely offer -110 or -108 odds. Here’s what those payouts look like on a $100 bet:
|Odds||Winnings On A $100 Bet|
A $3.30 difference may not seem like much, but larger and more frequent bets will make that difference add up quickly. Also, keep in mind that the eight-cent claim was specific to MLB lines. When MLB lines are available again, we’ll revisit this claim to see how it holds up.
What Kinds Of Bonuses And Partnerships Can We Expect From BetMonarch?
Both of those questions are up in the air. BetMonarch’s bonuses and promotions will come after its app is up to Monarch’s standards. “We just want to make sure we have a stable core product before we start adding the bells and whistles,” said Farahi.
The partnership question is more tantalizing, as BetMonarch does seem to have a partnership in the works. With whom? “Nothing that we’re ready to talk about today,” said Farahi. It sure sounds like something’s coming down the pike. Bettors can look forward to an announcement of new partnerships down the line (or wait for us to write about it.)
What Does BetMonarch’s Future Look Like During And After The Pandemic?
BetMonarch didn’t launch in an ideal environment, but it’s using this time to fine-tune its app before the major leagues return. Whether Gov. Jared Polis gives the go-ahead for casinos to reopen anytime soon or not, BetMonarch’s app will allow Colorado bettors to remotely bet on available games.
Across the six current Colorado sportsbooks, BetMonarch takes the least amount of profit from every betting line. Its lower cost structure allows it to pass those profits onto better odds on the favorite. In contrast, its odds on the underdog vary widely from among the best, to among the worst, to somewhere in the middle. As Monarch Casino navigates the challenges of reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’s setting BetMonarch up to be a formidable force in the Colorado sportsbook scene.