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Fiona Simmons February 10, 2023 3 min read
Massachusetts Gambling Regulator Examines College Sports-Related Breaches
The regulatory is looking into two of the three licensed sportsbooks that are said to have accepted wagers on college basketball games featuring schools form the Bay State
According to the Massachusetts Gambling Commission (MGC) this is a breach of existing gambling rules, but it’s not yet clear whether the sportsbooks that accepted those wagers would suffer any penalty.
Self-Reported Offenses Demonstrate Goodwill
The MGC is also on a tight schedule to make mobile sports betting available by March 10, with the Bay State hoping to boost the total sports betting handle on time for March Madness, the biggest basketball college tournament.
Still, the regulator also has to decide what to do with Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park Casino which offered wagers on Boston College women’s basketball game and Merrimack College men’s basketball game respectively. The regulator is clear on the rules and has stated that betting on in-state collegiate sports is prohibited.
While some exceptions exist, the regulator argues that these cases are not it. The two sportsbooks accepted wagers during a 5-7-hour period and were in “violation” of regulatory laws, MGC chief enforcement counsel Heather Hall said.
The involved sportsbooks have been quick to respond, though, and acknowledged the mistake. Plainridge Park general manager North Grounsell was among the first to offer comment and said:
Due to a data input error by one of our vendors, we notified, and self-reported a violation to the MGC. We regret that this mistake happened, take full responsibility, and have added several remedial steps to our compliance process to help prevent this from happening again.Plainridge Park general manager North Grounsell
Encore Boston Harbor spokesperson has also offered insight and said that the issue was self-reported and therefore no attempt to hide it from the regulator took place. Both properties assured that they are undertaking additional compliance measures to avoid a repeat.
While admitting fault is an alleviating factor, this does not mean that most regulators took it as a good thing. So far, there has not been an enforcement action, but such may come next Tuesday when the MGC is convening again.
Tight Schedule Ahead for Important Changes
MGC chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein has been more consolatory in the matter, commending the operators for stepping up and bringing the issues to the regulator’s attention. But issuing fines to sportsbooks for seemingly minor transgressions is not uppermost on the regulator’s mind right now.
The MGC is keen to push legal mobile betting and put it in place by the March 10 deadline, with observers expecting mobile betting handle to account for up to 95% of the total betting activity in the state and more, to significantly improve the number of bets and participants.