Just a couple weeks into Massachusetts sports betting, two casino sportsbooks have accepted bets on unauthorized sporting events, in violation of state law. This is according to a report in a meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Thursday.
Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor both accepted wagers on college basketball games involving schools based in Massachusetts. Such bets are not permitted under Approved Massachusetts Sports Wagering Catalog in accordance with Massachusetts Public Records Law.
Both casinos self-reported the incidents to the MGC. That led commission chair Cathy Judd-Stein to commend the casino sportsbook operators.
The Encore Boston Harbor incident occurred when the WynnBET Sportsbook allowed wagering on a Boston College women’s basketball game for five hours. Plainridge Park Casino’s Barstool Sportsbook mistakenly accepted bets on a men’s basketball game involving Merrimack College for several hours.
There were no figures available showing how much money was wagered on these unauthorized bets.
Under Massachusetts sports gambling law, bettors can only wager on Massachusetts-based college or university teams if they are competing in a sanctioned tournament involving at least four schools, such as the NCAA Tournament.
Heather Hall, Chief Enforcement Counsel for the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau of the MGC, pointed out that the self-reporting is a “key component” as the commission continues with an investigation and pursues possible penalties for the two casino sportsbooks.
What Comes Next?
Judd-Stein recommended the MGC revisit the incidents during its meeting on Feb. 14, when they will have additional investigative details on the incidents. She pointed out that this weekend will see a busy flurry of betting. The Super Bowl will be played Sunday, Feb. 12. Massachusetts bettors will need to wager on it in-person at retail sportsbooks located in a casino.
“We want to assure the public that we have remedial steps in place to prohibit such betting concerns (in the future),” Judd-Stein said.
The MGC has a remediation process in place to handle such unauthorized betting incidents. The Approved Massachusetts Sports Wagering Catalog lists the sports and sporting events that are permitted for sports betting. It also outlines those competitions that are prohibited. Massachusetts is one of the few states that limits betting regarding colleges and universities in-state.
Hall explained that Plainridge Park Casino has taken steps to manually review games the day before scheduled events, to ensure compliance with the wagering catalog.
Also during Thursday’s meeting, a tentative date to launch MA online sports betting was floated: March 10. That is a Friday. The MGC likes that so the weekend can be used to iron out details. The men’s NCAA Tournament begins on March 14, and the women’s NCAA Tournament starts the following day.