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Massachusetts casinos fined for college betting rule breaches


Three land-based casinos in Massachusetts have been fined for breaching state rules related to betting on college sports events.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) flagged MGM Springfield, Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor for separate offenses.

Both Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield were both fined $20,000, while Encore Boston Harbor was handed a $10,000 penalty.

Each casino was penalised after allowing players to bet on regular-season games featuring teams from colleges in Massachusetts. State law prohibits wagering on events involving Massachusetts colleges unless it is part of a tournament of at least four teams.

The rules have been in place since the state opened its regulated sports wagering market in January this year. Retail betting launched first, followed by online in March.

Plainridge Park Casino fine

In the case of Plainridge Park Casino, betting was allowed on the Merrimack College vs. Long Island University men’s regular-season basketball game. The casino processed 33 wagers across 27 tickets.

This took place on February 2 and the casino notified the MGC of the mistake the following day.

The incident occurred due to a backend data entry error where the location of Merrimack College was listed as being in Florida, Plainridge Park explained. Kambi, the casino’s sports wagering vendor, has since rectified the issue and confirmed no other games were impacted.

No suspicious wagering activity was identified, while Kambi carried out an audit to ensure the issue does not happen again.

“The MGC appreciates the casino self-disclosed this noncompliance and recognized and rewarded the team member who brought the noncompliance incident to its attention,” the MGC said.

“It has also been noted the casino and their vendor worked to rectify the problem and put measures into place to avoid future noncompliance.”

MGM Springfield penalty

Meanwhile, MGM Springfield was fined for offering wagers on the Harvard vs Yale and Harvard vs Brown men’s basketball games on 3 and 4 February, respectively.

Betting was available for 21 and 22 hours on each event, respectively, and 28 tickets were sold for wagers on both events. All wagers were placed at kiosks inside the casino.

After being made aware of the issue, MGM requested vendor BetMGM to review all sports bets placed at the casino since the launch of sports wagering in the state. It was flagged that Harvard was incorrectly designated as being in Connecticut.

MGM now conducts a daily audit of potential offerings before the sportsbook opens for the day. BetMGM will also conduct periodic quality control reviews of its internal guidance documentation.

$10,000 fine for Encore Boston Harbor

Finally, Encore Boston Harbor was fined for allowing one bet on the Boston College vs Notre Dame women’s regular season basketball game. This took place on 2 February.

Betting on the event was open for five hours, with one money line bet included in a five-team parlay. The ineligible bet was voided prior to the settlement of the ticket.

The casino said the bet was allowed due to a system error where the team was known by two names to its wagering platform. Only one of the names was included on a blacklist of teams upon which wagering is not allowed.

Encore Boston Harbor said its vendor, WynnBET, now conducts twice daily audits to ensure compliance with college betting rules. It added that it will continue to coordinate with the MGC’s sports wagering division to ensure ongoing compliance.

Proposed legal changes for college athletes

The fines come against a backdrop of talk about potential changes for college athletes. A number of bills are currently being discussed as to opening up more opportunities for athletes to make money.

One of the proposals under discussion would allow athletes to benefit from sports betting proceeds.

National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) president Charlie Baker believes legal sports betting represents a “major opportunity” for college sports. He is open to ideas as to how to forge links with the industry.

“We have a major opportunity to get into the sports betting space,” Baker told USA Today. “We recognize and understand between social media and 31 states legalizing it and anybody who has a phone being able to bet from any place they want and two-thirds to almost three quarters of all people between the ages of 18 and 22 betting on sports.”

He aims to implement more measures protecting athletes and other students from gambling related harm.

“The truth is, if there are lots of kids on campus betting on college sports and betting on the teams on their campus, this puts student-athletes in a very difficult position,” he said.

“The NCAA needs to create a program that we hope we’re going to get everybody to endorse around helping them develop the tools and techniques athletes are going to need to deal with this stuff.”