MA Regulators Say BetMGM Handled $200K In Improper NCAA Bets

Written By Mike Breen on February 6, 2024
A picture of an NCAA football.

Bay State gaming regulators don’t allow online sportsbooks to accept prop bets related to individual college athletes.

But one of the larger Massachusetts online sportsbooks accepted six figures’ worth of those bets. During the latest Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting, regulators said BetMGM Massachusetts handled more than 15,000 NCAA college football player prop bets.

Representatives from the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau reported that more than $200,000 of improper wagers were accepted by the operator.

The commission referred the matter back to the bureau for an adjudicatory hearing.

Suspected violations also reported against Fanatics, BetMGM retail sportsbook

Individual sports betting violations against Fanatics and the BetMGM retail sportsbook at MGM Springfield were also referred back to the IEB for adjudicatory hearings. Those suspected violations were related to allowing bets on two state college basketball games.

The state’s sports betting rules forbid wagering on in-state college teams outside of tournament games.

BetMGM did not self-report the 15,000-plus bets it accepted during the 2023 college football season. Commissioner Eileen O’Brien said they were discovered by internal auditing by the state at the meeting.

The adjudicatory hearing will determine whether any penalties are warranted. They range from a fine to license revocation. The commissioners would then vote to approve or deny the sanctions.

MGC chair Cathy Judd-Stein called for a speedy resolution on the matter.

“Prop bets on students is a statutory violation here in Massachusetts. It isn’t a conversation that’s starting to happen across the nation as to whether it’s ever appropriate. Massachusetts, I feel, got this right. I know I’m personally interested in resolving this matter as quickly as possible for the protection of student-athletes.”

Last summer, the MGC issued $50,000 in fines on the three casinos in the state due to similar violations involving in-state college sports betting. The violations occurred at the three retail sportsbooks at the casinos shortly after the late-January sports betting launch and were largely attributed to technical issues.

IEB helped reclaim $3.7 million in unpaid child support, back taxes at casinos

IEB gaming division chief Burke Cain appeared at the MGC’s Feb. 1 meeting to provide an end-of-year report on funds collected by state gaming agents from Massachusetts’ three casinos.

The majority of the money came from Department of Revenue “intercepts.” In certain instances, casino operators must verify with the DOR whether the winner has outstanding child support or state taxes due before paying out winnings. If they do, their winnings are seized and applied against the winner’s past-due child support or tax liability.

DOR intercepts amounted to $3.7 million across all three casinos in 2023. It was an increase of more than $243,000 from the previous year.

MGC Commissioner Brad Hill applauded the IEB’s efforts at the meeting.

“Every year that I see these numbers, I’m just so shocked at the amount that they collect, but more importantly, on the downside, how many people are out there not doing what they should be doing. I’m thankful that we have a mechanism in place where, if they should win some money, we can get it back for where it’s intended to go.”

The IEB’s year-end report also showed that in 2023, gaming agents could collect more than $1.3 million from expired vouchers and unclaimed jackpots from the state’s casinos. An additional $8,475 was collected from forfeited winnings by underage patrons.

The funds collected from expired, unclaimed and forfeited winnings go into the Community Mitigation Fund, which, according to the MGC, “support a range of community needs including education, transportation, infrastructure, housing, environmental issues, public safety and emergency services.”

Photo by AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast
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Mike Breen

Mike Breen is an Ohio-based professional writer who has more than two decades of experience covering sports, news, music, arts and culture. He has covered online sports betting, responsible gambling, and other gambling initiatives for a variety of markets over the last couple of years. That now includes PlayMA.

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