Derek Stevens Hosts Rockies Watch Party As Circa Sports Looks To Broaden Colorado Scope


Earlier this week, Las Vegas casino owner and developer Derek Stevens ventured out of the desert for a trip to Colorado, the first state of Circa Sports’ expansion beyond Nevada last summer.

There, he was greeted with snow flurries and 39-degree temperatures, unseasonably cool weather for a late-spring afternoon. The inclement weather postponed Monday’s game between the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres, but did not temper enthusiasm among patrons at a watch party blocks away hosted by Circa. Stevens, CEO of Circa Sports, took part in a three-day event this week at ViewHouse Eatery, Bar & Rooftop, a downtown Denver establishment.

Despite the postponement, attendees stayed at the party for Monday night’s NHL showdown between the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, the top two teams in the West Division. The watch parties last through Wednesday when the Rockies face the Padres in an afternoon doubleheader. Located a stone’s throw from Coors Field, sports bettors have views of the stadium façade from the rooftop party.

“This is a pretty cool area of the country and a pretty cool location,” Stevens told CoBets on Monday. “We’re excited about coming out and meeting people.”

In total, a crew of about 20 Circa staffers took part in this week’s event held in an effort to connect with local sports bettors. Stevens is hopeful that the Denver parties will help the company bolster downloads to the Circa Sports app among Colorado customers.

Courtesy: Circa Sports

Stevens is best known for completing the opening of the Circa Resort & Casino in Downtown Las Vegas last fall. Circa’s three-story sportsbook, which Stevens has dubbed the “largest in the world,” features a 78-million pixel TV screen that displays nearly 20 sports contests at once.

The Rodgers effect

Last season, the Denver Broncos finished fourth in the AFC West at 5-11, missing the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year since capturing Super Bowl 50 in 2016. While the Broncos acquired Teddy Bridgewater last month to create competition for Drew Lock, Denver’s long-term plans at quarterback are far from settled.

When reports surfaced prior to the NFL Draft that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wanted to leave Green Bay, the Broncos emerged as a potential suitor. Rodgers included the Broncos, Raiders, and 49ers on a list of preferable trade partners. The Niners subsequently selected North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in the Draft. Denver, meanwhile, might have the flexibility to absorb Rodgers’ $37.2 million cap hit. Rodgers’ fiancée Shailene Woodley also lives in nearby Boulder.

At Monday’s watch party, Stevens was inundated with questions about the possibility that the Broncos could acquire Rodgers.

“I can’t believe it, that’s all anyone wanted to talk about over the last three hours,” Stevens said.

Odds on the Broncos at Circa Sports to win the Super Bowl fell from 75/1 to 22/1 after Rodgers expressed a desire for a trade. The cascading odds are in line with sharp declines at other books. The Broncos initially dropped to 13/1 at William Hill, before rebounding to 20/1. Denver’s odds are also in the neighborhood of 20/1 to 25/1 at BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel.

When all of the pertinent factors are weighed, Stevens argues that the Broncos have become the top destination for Rodgers if he leaves Wisconsin.

“I don’t see how he goes back to Green Bay. There’s only 32 teams in the NFL, then there’s some teams that you don’t have to worry about,” Stevens said. “There’s a very limited number of quarterback jobs out there. With some of Rodgers’ comments, you’re kind of limited on where he’s going to play. I think the Broncos are the favorites, frankly.”

Stevens immediately swung into action, contacting three executives on Circa’s sportsbook team back in Las Vegas. The team brainstormed if various state regulations allow operators to offer a prop on whether Rodgers will take his first snap of the 2021 season in a Broncos’ uniform. At the moment, Colorado sportsbooks are not able to offer that specific prop but can take wagers on the team that Rodgers will play for in Week 1 of the NFL regular season, a source told CoBets.

The bet is now live at Circa Sports in Colorado. While the Packers are the clear favorite at -140, the Broncos are the second choice at +350, ahead of the 49ers, Colts, Dolphins, Raiders, and Saints (all listed at +1200).

Courtesy: Circa Sports

Circa Millions contest

Lengthy disruptions from COVID-19 pushed back the start of the NBA and NHL regular seasons by several months. By now, both leagues would usually be in the middle of the playoffs. But the NHL Playoffs will begin on Saturday when the Washington Capitals face the Boston Bruins, while the NBA Play-In tournament is scheduled to start on May 22.

Since the NBA Playoffs are expected to last through late July, the respective postseasons will bridge the gap for sportsbooks in a typical dead period of the sports calendar. By August, NFL training camps will be in full swing. Last year, Circa Las Vegas received 3,148 entries for the Circa Sports Million II football contest. The overall winner for the weekly NFL pick’em contest took home $1 million, while the remainder of the Top 5 pocketed a combined $525,000. Circa has opted to not offer the contest in Colorado for the 2021 NFL regular season.

Circa plans to launch this year’s contest in Nevada around Memorial Day, according to Stevens.

“We’re going to focus it in Nevada because you can’t cross-pollinate these pools,” Stevens said.

Unlike household names such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM, Circa has eschewed conventional customer acquisition strategies replete with deposit matching, bonus bets, and odds boosting under its business model. Instead, Circa has honed in on a low-hold, high-limit approach that has gained a following among loyal Las Vegas customers.

“For us, we believe in providing value every day to the player,” Circa Sportsbook Operations Manager Jeff Benson told CoBets. “Our Colorado business continues to increase every day.”

To that end, Stevens pointed to Circa’s future pools in golf, which received high marks from professional bettor Bill Krackomberger ahead of The Masters in early April. At last week’s Wells Fargo Championship, heavy action on eventual winner Rory McIlroy forced up the odds on the other golfers in the field, Stevens explained. In a field of around 100 golfers, Circa may provide the most favorable odds of any book on about 80-90 golfers entered, according to Stevens.

Colorado recently celebrated its one-year anniversary of legal sports betting. Last spring, online sports betting went live in the Centennial State when four sportsbook operators launched Colorado apps on May 1, 2020. On Monday, the Colorado Division of Gaming announced that bettors wagered more than $2.3 billion over the first 12 months of legal sports betting in the state, making it one of six U.S. jurisdictions to cross the $2 billion threshold since the Supreme Court’s 2018 repeal of PASPA.

Stevens expects sports betting in Colorado to grow progressively over the next eight months, but noted that the market is still in its infancy. He expects to have a better understanding of the market by this time next year.

“The whole element of evaluating the state is still on the early side,” Stevens said.

Matt is a veteran writer with a specific focus on the emerging sports gambling market. During Matt's two decade career in journalism, he has written for the New York Times, Forbes, The Guardian, Reuters and among others. In his spare time, Matt is an avid reader, a weekend tennis player and a frequent embarrassment to the sport of running.

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