Massachusetts’ three casinos violate ban on betting on college sports during the first weeks of legal activty

In the two weeks that sports betting has been legally active in Massachusetts, all three casinos that were approved to take sports wagers have violated the Commonwealth’s ban on in-state collegiate sports betting. 

Two casinos – Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor – were found in violation last week. MGM Springfield has now been found to have accepted wagers on two Harvard men’s basketball games, a 57-68 home loss to Yale on February 3, and a 65-68 home loss to Brown on February 4. 

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission said the violations, which initially occurred days after the market went live on January 31, appear to be small kinks for the commission, casinos and vendors to work out. 

Commissioner Nakisha Skinner said in a commission meeting on Tuesday: “We’ve had three of these now in a week and a half’s time. I don’t know what the volume is going to be, but certainly, as we are reviewing operator applications, we learned that these are relatively routine, and I’m not sure if we use the word routine, but they’re relatively routine matters.”

Plainridge Park Casino accepted bets on a Merrimack women’s basketball 76-59 home victory against Long Island University February 2. Thirty-three bets were placed, with most at the casino’s kiosks. Four wagers were made at the betting counter with a “writer” or teller. A total of $6,848 was wagered, with bettors winning $4,270.

According to Chief Enforcement Counsel Heather Hall the violation occurred because Kambi, a sportsbook vendor, “mistakenly assigned the participant school state for Merrimack College as Florida instead of Massachusetts.” 

The issue was resolved when a teller notified the casino, who then reported the violation to the commission.

In the past week, Plainridge Park Casino and Kambi have taken several “remedial measures” to verify the validity of future wagers. These include removing all un-approved schools from the vendor’s system and ensuring a manager signs off on daily bets.

Also on February 2, Encore Boston Harbor took bets on a Boston College women’s basketball 72-59 home loss to Notre Dame. Only one wager was placed, part of a five game parlay totaling $70, but the casino realized the error and canceled the unapproved money line parlay leg before it could be cashed. The better took home $23.

According to Hall, one of Encore’s vendors, GAN, “mistakenly omitted the NCAA women’s basketball from the prohibited wagers list.” Encore and GAN will begin to conduct twice daily audits on the list of Massachusetts schools participating in events as well as assign a dedicated auditor.

During the meeting, the commission discussed possibly holding a adjudicatory hearing to “set goalposts,” where the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau and operators could offer information that could potentially lead to future penalties.

Commissioner Jordan Maynard stated: “I want to set the goalposts with my fellow commissioners early on, and then see how it’s working. And I know that’s going to create a little bit more work on the front end, both for the commissioners and for the IEB … but I think later on, it’s gonna be very beneficial to the entire organization.”