Bernie Kosar’s Browns Bet Raises Eyebrows at Massachusetts Hearing on FanDuel’s Mobile Sports Betting License

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The removal of Bernie Kosar from his position as a Cleveland Browns radio personality on Sunday resonated with Massachusetts gaming regulators as they reviewed FanDuel’s request for a mobile sports betting license on Monday. 

The former Browns quarterback was let go from his duties with the franchise after Kosar said on his own radio show that he had placed a $19,000 bet with Tipico Sportsbook on the Browns in their Week 18 game against the Steelers

That wager broke NFL rules against league employees or contractors betting on the sport. It also raised questions for Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Brad Hill about betting partnerships between pro sports leagues and US-licensed sportsbooks – including FanDuel, an official NFL partner. 

When asked Monday by Hill what safeguards are in place to ensure integrity of sports and sports betting given FanDuel’s partnerships with several leagues, FanDuel Group President Christian Genetski assured regulators his company screens its platform for bettors breaking the rules. 

According to Genetski, FanDuel has chosen to “align ourselves closely” with the leagues to prevent the kinds of incidents that happened this week in Ohio, where legal sports betting launched on New Year’s Day. 

“I think we are seeing the system work,” he said. “While the news over the weekend was unfortunate (regarding Kosar) … I think these are, in effect, success stories about what a regulated legal market can do on integrity concerns because these instances are identified, they are reported, and they are handled.”

FanDuel: Safeguards in Place

FanDuel is tipped off about prohibited bettors engaging on the platform in a few ways, FanDuel Chief Legal Officer Carolyn Renzin told the MGC in her testimony Monday alongside Genetski. Lists of prohibited players provided to FanDuel by leagues themselves are one source of information. In-house access to names of persons who violate the sportsbook’s terms of use is another source, she said. News alerts are yet another.

Bernie Kosar
Massachusetts regulators have questions about Bernie Kosar’s bet on the Cleveland Browns (AP Photo/David Dermer, File)

Additionally, a company called U.S. Integrity works with FanDuel and other sportsbook operators to flag inappropriate use across the industry, FanDuel officials told the MGC today. 

In response, Hill said he’s pleased that there are protocols in place “to make sure that the integrity remains with sports betting, and pro sports, and college sports.” 

FanDuel Sports Partnerships Possible In Massachusetts

FanDuel team partnerships within Massachusetts are possible, should the sportsbook be licensed as a Massachusetts sports betting operator. 

The sportsbook’s CFO David Jennings told the MGC in his testimony that the company plans to spend at least $50 million in local marketing – including team sponsorships – in its first five years of operation, if licensed. Other marketing would include TV, radio, direct mail, and out-of-home brand building. 

Large-scale events are also planned should FanDuel come to the Bay State, said Jennings. That would mean more income for local venues and more employment, he explained.

Overall, Jennings said a FanDuel presence in Massachusetts would result in more than $250 million in tax revenue and investment in the first five years of operation. 

More Sportsbooks To Be Reviewed This Week

After its review Monday, the MGC agreed that FanDuel has generally met expectations for an untethered mobile sports betting license (mobile license not tied to a casino or racino).

Still, a final decision on whether to award the license is on hold. 

No applicant for an untethered license will be awarded until each of six applicants vying for one of the licenses is vetted this month. A schedule of upcoming MGC hearings has been published on the agency’s website. The MGC is expected to award the licenses on or around Jan. 18 and 19. 

Other applicants are Betr, DraftKings (Crown), Betway, PointsBet, and Bally Bet, which was reviewed by the MGC last week. 

Massachusetts mobile sports betting is on track to launch in early March. Retail sportsbooks in the commonwealth will launch on Jan. 31, according to the MGC.

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Writer and Contributor
Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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