Massachusetts Sportsbooks Face Administrative Action for Unauthorized College Basketball Bets

Reports of unauthorized bets at Massachusetts casino sportsbooks are rolling in weeks after the commonwealth’s retail launch.

The reports involve bets accepted by each of the state’s three casinos on regular-season matchups involving Massachusetts college basketball programs. According to Massachusetts Gaming Commission testimony on Tuesday, all unauthorized bets were self-reported by the casinos after the wagers were discovered.

The commonwealth’s 2022 sports betting law prohibits wagering on games involving in-state collegiate teams, except during tournament play.

Administrative adjudicatory hearings on potential penalties assessed against two of the casinos – Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor – will be scheduled by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission within the next two to three weeks, MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said at the commission’s Tuesday meeting.

Read More: Best College Basketball Betting Sites

A third administrative hearing, against MGM Springfield, is also likely forthcoming. MGC official Bruce Band told the commission that the casino self-reported that it accepted a bet on the Feb. 3 Harvard-Yale men’s basketball game. No further information was available at press time.

Any fines will be determined by the commission in the course of the hearings, MGC staff reported Tuesday.

Incidents Involved Betting on Feb. 2 College Basketball Games

MGC Chief Enforcement Counsel Heather Hall told the commission that the incidents reported at PPC and Encore happened on Feb 2. Bets on games involving in-state teams happened for a limited number of hours before they were flagged by the casinos and betting was stopped.

Three retail sportsbooks in Massachusetts are under fire for accepting bets on games involving in-state college basketball teams (PhotoProCorp)

Plainridge Park Casino

Hall said PPC self-reported Feb. 3 that it had “mistakenly” accepted bets on the Feb. 2 Merrimack College (MA) and Long Island University men’s basketball game. Unauthorized bets on that game totaled $6,848, with $4,270 in winnings paid to customers. Betting was open for seven hours before it was flagged and stopped.

The casino told MGC staff that the unauthorized betting occurred because Merrimack College’s home state was improperly labeled in its betting system as Florida school, Hall reported.

“That allowed Merrimack College to bypass compliance filters configured to block all regular season matches involving Massachusetts teams based on their assigned participant school state,” she said.

PPC is performing daily checks to make sure wagering is only offered on approved schools.

Encore Boston Harbor

Encore reported to the MGC that it accepted one bet – a moneyline wager – placed at a kiosk on the Feb. 2 women’s matchup between Boston College and Notre Dame.

The wager was part of a parlay bet settled at $23 after the Boston College leg was voided, Hall said.

Encore “reported that a staff member of GAN (platform provider) mistakenly omitted the NCAA women’s basketball from the prohibited wagers list,” which lifted any block on Massachusetts women’s school teams as well, Hall told the commission.

What’s Next?

Casino sportsbooks can face revocation or suspension of their Massachusetts sports betting licenses for certain violations, MGC staff said Tuesday. But no one who testified Tuesday seemed to think that is likely.

Monetary fines, if any, have yet to be determined.

Hall said her office has tracked a range of fines related to unauthorized collegiate team wagers in other states. Most of those fines, she said, range from $5,000 to $50,000.

“It’s difficult to tell the specific facts of each particular incident,” she told the commission on Tuesday. “Most of the fines that we have seen that are very close in line with this are in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.”

Related: Mass Regulators Expected To Be Tough on Sportsbook Operators

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Legislative Writer
Based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer 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, Hanchett has been known to watch UK. basketball from time to time.

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