Massachusetts Regulators Find BetMGM in Violation of Player Prop Rule

sports betting – February 9, 2024, 09:16h. 

sports betting – February 9, 2024, 09:16h.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) was informed this week by its Investigations and Enforcement Bureau that a leading online sportsbook violated state wagering rules banning player props.

BetMGM player prop Massachusetts
A BetMGM advertisement in Boston is pictured on an interactive outdoor digital display. BetMGM is accused of wrongly allowing college player props on its sportsbook in Massachusetts. (Image: Soofa)

Player props are bets on an individual’s performance, such as whether a running back will run for a certain number of yards during a game.

In Massachusetts, state gaming rules prohibit college player props. This is to protect student-athletes and reduce the likelihood of college players being threatened or harassed by disgruntled bettors.

MGC Investigations and Enforcement Bureau officials told the commissioners that a routine audit of BetMGM’s operations found the sportsbook took at least 15,000 player prop bets on college athletes, with a value in excess of $200,000.

Most of the bets were placed during the 2023 college football season, and it’s unclear how much money the book kept from the illegal bets.

Hearing Forthcoming

The five-member MGC expressed their displeasure in discovering that a prominent local sportsbook was apparently unaware of a major regulation of the industry.

Prop bets on students is a statutory violation here in Massachusetts. It’s a conversation that’s starting to happen across the nation as to whether it’s appropriate,” said MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein. “Massachusetts got this right. I know I’m personally interested in resolving this matter as quickly as possible for the protection of student-athletes.”

Judd-Stein’s comments were likely a reference to NCAA President Charlie Baker, who was the governor of Massachusetts and signed the state’s sports betting law, calling for legal sports betting states to ban player props. Baker said in November that player props are “one of the parts I worry about the most” regarding sports gambling.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) recently came out in opposition to college player prop bets and called on his state gaming regulatory commission to amend its rules to ban such wagers. Just six states — Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, and Wyoming — and DC allow college player props.

The MGC referred the BetMGM matter back to the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau for an adjudicatory hearing where BetMGM will be allowed to weigh in. Depending on the hearing’s outcome, the MGC will decide whether penalties are warranted, which could range from a financial fine to license revocation, though the odds of the latter happening are presumably long.

BetMGM is the retail and online sportsbook co-owned by MGM Resorts International. The company runs the sportsbook at MGM Springfield and leverages that brick-and-mortar relationship to take bets via the internet in Massachusetts.

Previous Violations

This isn’t the first time BetMGM incurred a regulatory mishap in Massachusetts.

Last summer, the MGC fined the book $20,000 for allowing bets on Harvard men’s basketball games. Massachusetts bans bets on college sports involving state-based schools unless the game is part of a tournament involving a minimum of four teams.

BetMGM told state gaming commissioners that an employee had mistakenly labeled Harvard as being in Connecticut, and bets on the Ivy League program were accepted for about 21 hours before the error was noticed.

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