It’s been a rough month for Monarch Casino in Black Hawk. Just weeks after the casino was slapped with a $400,000 fine for employee misconduct tied to sports wagering on Feb. 15, it got hit for even more money, $500,000, in a robbery on March 12.
The latter was the largest casino heist in Colorado history.
While supposedly unrelated, both the robbery and the fine involved the casino’s own employees. And both occurred because of failures in the casino’s internal controls system.
Monarch Casino will audit internal controls after heist and fine
Casino gambling in Colorado is limited to three small towns: Black Hawk and Central City, both west of Denver, and in Cripple Creek, west of Colorado Springs. Colorado online casinos are limited to sweepstakes and social casinos, which can be free to play and give out cash prizes.
Monarch Casino offers 40 gaming tables and nearly 1,000 slot machines on top of its sportsbook and 250-seat buffet. Its parent company, Monarch Casino and Resort Inc., reported Q4 2022 revenues of $120.5 million.
After the robbery and fine, the casino has agreed to audit its internal controls and implement system upgrades to its sports betting platform. It will also make improvements to its geo-location services, which are designed to flag and prohibit out-of-state bettors.
Monarch Casino will certainly improve the vetting and monitoring of its employees after being taken for nearly $1 million, along with changes to protocol and procedures. Even stricter sanctions are expected to be levied by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission.
State Commission fines Monarch for allowing out-of-state sports betting
The $400,000 fine was imposed on the popular Colorado casino after three of its employees allegedly placed bets on behalf of off-site customers. The fine was one of the largest of its kind levied by the gaming commission.
Reportedly, the sportsbook manager and two sportsbook tellers made 79 bets on behalf of people who weren’t at the casino. Supposedly, 57 of the people were not even located in the state, a more-severe infraction.
The bets totaled more than $60,000. All three of the employees in question have been fired and arrested.
Employee who took money from Monarch says boss told her to do it
Then, less than a month later, a different casino employee supposedly stole $500,000. The two are unrelated, according to a casino spokesperson.
In the heist, casino cashier Sabrina Eddy was allegedly caught on surveillance video just after midnight on March 12 taking cash bricks of $50,000 from the vault in the casino cage. She then carried them out of the casino, according to an affidavit obtained by Black Hawk’s local NBC affiliate.
Eddy took the money to a van waiting in the parking garage, got in and drove off. Then, she returned an hour later and grabbed four more cash bricks and drove off again, according to the affidavit.
“Each time Eddy grabbed the stacks, she placed the stacks into the same box. She put what appeared to be cleaning rags in the box and, at about 12:55 a.m., she taped the box shut.”
Eddy has maintained her innocence. She said a casino supervisor instructed her to take the money to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver, which she did. She allegedly gave the money to an unidentified man there. She called the casino at one point to let them know she was coming back to the casino. Eddy was arrested later the same day and sent to Gilpin County Jail, where she remains after failing to make bond.
Casino heists and casino crimes in Colorado
While Eddy’s alleged theft is the state’s largest casino crime up to this point, these types of crimes are not unheard of.
In 2003, a Cripple Creek casino security guard was suspected of stealing $300,000 from JP McGills. Then, in 2010, Central City’s Famous Bonanza Casino was robbed by a man with a gun for $28,000 before being shot, arrested, and eventually sentenced to more than 200 years in prison.
Colorado Department of Revenue Spokeswoman Suzanne Karrer told the Denver Post that casino thefts occur all the time.
“This latest case (of stealing from a casino) is the largest theft we can find, but small thefts occur regularly. And fraudulent acts are the crime we respond to the most, getting several every week.”
In 1993, only two years after casinos were legally allowed to operate in the state, armed robbers stole $8,000 from Gold Rush Casino and Hotel in Cripple Creek before they, too, were arrested.