LSR Q&A: Circa Sportsbook Director On In-Play, Competing In Colorado

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Circa Sports

Circa Sports spread its wings outside of Nevada for the first time in July last year.

The sportsbook launched into the Colorado sports betting market with a familiar message: fair limits and great odds for everyone. However, the Colorado product used IGT technology rather than the Stadium Technology platform underpinning the Nevada sports betting product.

One year on from that launch, LSR caught up with Circa Sports director Matthew Metcalf to discuss first-year learnings and whether the low-vig model still has legs.

LSR: How have you found your first year in Colorado, after coming into the market with a relatively unique approach?

Matt Metcalf (MM): We are playing catch-up on product because we are trying to get our Nevada technology into Colorado. We’ve not really had the chance to make the progress we wanted because of that issue.

I’m still optimistic about our model though because there definitely is a different clientele out there.

LSR: What’s the issue with the Colorado tech?

MM: We book 95% of our action manually, so we were shopping for tech that allowed us to set our own limits and so on.

But there’s not a lot of systems out there that facilitate that. So we may have to build our own in the long term. 

LSR: It’s interesting that providers don’t offer that flexibility around trading and limits?

MM: Yeah it kind of leaves us standing here. But we have been more proactive on the in-play side, partnering with DeckPrism and writing a lot of action.

LSR: Have Circa Sports bettors embraced that product?

MM: Overall it has been positive. There’s not a lot of alternative feeds in the market, and these guys are kicking out their own numbers.

So a lot of play has been arb play. But as people bet into us, they‘ve found it’s a solid number. 

LSR: I saw early on, their model had something like 20-plus arbs against offshores on an NBA in-game total, so they have got to be pretty confident in their number …

MM: We’ve taken fair limits and it has stood up. When you put the number up and let people bet, you see the results pretty quickly. I’ve been happy, and it has brought in a lot of new customers. 

I said from day one with DeckPrism, even if we were getting beat up, I trusted them to make the adjustments needed. And the best way to do that is direct feedback. But it’s gone well and the model is getting better every day.

LSR: How does Colorado compare to Nevada in terms of sharp action?

MM: There is definitely a sharp DFS presence there that is transitioning into sports betting. We see a lot of their money in our futures pool.

But overall, Nevada is still probably the sharpest customer base.

LSR: Have you considered the Cris practice where you give a ‘friendly’ sharp first crack at your opening odds to shape them up before making them public?

MM: I like the idea of a friendly pro. But our thought process on our college football openers is that everyone has equal access and gets a fair pop. I think that’s important and feels more like an open market.

That said, I know when I open limits for $2-3k, some wiseguys aren’t getting out of bed and giving me their information for that.

LSR: Are you still confident in the long-term viability of the low-vig, high-limit model?

MM: Yeah we feel good about what we’re doing. I understand why every company operates the way they do.

But we think our model has the best potential long-term to make the most revenue. If I didn’tthink that, I would have to have a conversation with (owner) Derek Stevens. But this model also contributes to a positive industry, which is important.

LSR: What do you need to do to keep growing Circa Sports?

MM: Our biggest blind spot is menu size. I want to expand that towards FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM.

But I want to be able to take bigger bets into those. I think it’s important to build a solid foundation first and give people the bets in the size they want.

I see a lot of decisions being made for short-term profit that are not in the best interests of this industry.

LSR: Do you need more recreational flow at Circa Sports to offset the sharp action you’re taking?

MM: To a point. I think we showed last year that you can make money booking entirely sharp action – if you have enough of it. If you have enough volume, you can grind on the wiseguys. There’s so many people entering sports betting every day with differing viewpoints.

When I started, everyone thought the same way. But now you have actuaries trying to model things, you have poker players with game theory stuff.

With high limits, the amount of two-way action we generate is amazing. We’ve seen a lot of new players this past year and we’ve really proven to ourselves this can work.