Circa Sports Launching Colorado Sportsbook Through Century Casino Partnership

Colorado’s latest sports betting project goes live on Wednesday, but it’s already being talked about. The app, created by Circa Sports, marks the company’s first expansion into this state through a partnership with Century Casino. But it’s the Nevada-based group’s methods that have people paying attention. 

“We think they can offer something a bit different, a more unique sports betting platform than everybody else,” said Eric Rose, Century’s vice president of operations in Colorado. “How they operate, it just seems like a good fit.” 

We heard that word unique used multiple times over the last week, in reference to Circa’s practices. Both on and off the record, gaming officials in Colorado called it unique or different. And that’s because it is. Volume is the name of the game for the one-year old company, which celebrated its birthday in June. In gaming, a sharp is somebody who is a professional bettor. They put down large wagers and some look at it more like an investment. Many sports betting operations watch sharps carefully and cut their limit after a certain point. Circa doesn’t do that. 

“We don’t ban people and we don’t cut limits,” said Mike Van Ermen, Circa’s strategic operations manager for sportsbooks. “Let’s say you hit 75 percent of your bets. A lot of places would cut your limit to $50 per game. We don’t do that. A lot of skilled bettors have really appreciated that approach.” 

Circa Tries a Different Approach

Again, it’s about volume. That’s the concept behind Circa’s methods.  

“Looking at bettors as adversaries is not a good approach,” Van Ermen said. “Our philosophy is simple. Would you rather have 10 percent of $1 million or 3 percent or $100 million? This is a sportsbook built for bettors by bettors. In our Masters pool, we were running 10 to 12 percent hold, whereas a lot of markets were at 30. Because we take sharp action, our price may be lower. We’re just asking people to compare entire pool to entire pool.” 

The company, which runs sportsbooks in multiple Nevada casinos, is going a different direction here in Colorado. They will not have a retail sportsbook on site at Century. This will be completely web-based. The contract is also interesting for a number of other reasons. First, it’s a 15-year deal, one slightly longer than the majority of deals between casinos and sportsbooks in the state. The reason is that Century officials say they’re not looking at this year or the next. They’re planning for the next decade. 

“With Century and possibly some of our other properties, there’s the potential for growth as [Circa] may want to expand,” Rose said. “We do expect in 10 years to have online gaming as well as sports betting [and] we hope to have a long-term relationship with Circa.” 

The deal also includes a market access fee, a share of net gaming revenue and a minimum revenue guarantee payable to Century each year. 

Virus Offers an Opportunity 

This is Circa’s first step outside of Nevada and Van Ermen said in some cases, the virus actually helped, as people were introduced to new options. Without the NFL, NBA or MLB, gamers started following other sports, something Van Ermen believes will continue. 

“The virus took away one of our biggest volume events in March Madness,” Van Ermen said. “But at the same time, it exposed people who otherwise wouldn’t know about them to NASCAR, to Korean baseball, to the UFC. At one point, we were booking Russian chess. Now that they’ve seen other sports, I think some will expand their options.” 

That includes residents in Colorado, where the app will be ready on July 1, Van Ermen said. 

“We’re going through some tech stuff now. We’ve submitted to the App Store and are ready to open up in Colorado.”

About the Author

Brian Carlton

Brian Carlton is an award-winning journalist who has covered casinos, the gaming and finance industries for more than a decade. His work has been published by the BBC and a variety of newspapers across the U.S.