Three Massachusetts Casinos Fined For Illegal Sports Wagers

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By Colin Young
State House News Service

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission dinged all three of the physical casinos it oversees on Tuesday for taking illegal bets on Massachusetts college sports at their sportsbooks, levying a cumulative $50,000 in fines for violations that occurred in the earliest days of legal sports wagering here.

Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville was fined $20,000 for taking bets on a February 2 regular season men’s basketball game between Merrimack College and Long Island University, MGM Springfield was hit with a $20,000 penalty for offering action on regular season Harvard men’s basketball games on February 3 and February 4, and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett was fined $10,000 for taking a bet on a February 2 regular season game involving the Boston College women’s basketball team.

Massachusetts law prohibits wagering on events that involve Massachusetts colleges unless it is part of a tournament of at least four teams.

The state Gaming Commission determined the incidents were each “a serious violation of statute, regulation, and the Massachusetts Sports Wagering Catalog” and said the fines were intended as both a consequence for violating state law and commission regulations, and “as a deterrent from letting the same or similar violations occur again.”

The difference in the fine amounts appears to stem from the details of the incidents themselves. At Plainridge Park Casino, the sportsbook took 33 wagers worth $6,848 on a forbidden Merrimack game (the North Andover college was incorrectly labeled as being in Florida) and wagering was available for about seven hours. MGM Springfield allowed betting on two Harvard games, taking a total of $1,230 in wagers because the Cambridge school was labeled as a Connecticut college.

The Encore Boston Harbor incident — the first of two that shared many details — involved one bet being placed on a prohibited BC women’s basketball game as part of a five-game parlay with $70 total put on the line. Encore realized its error before the game started and voided the BC leg of that parlay wager. The Everett casino took additional illegal bets on BC women’s hoops later in February after “the system automatically turned it back on” as an event open to wagers, a Massachusetts Gaming Commission official said that month, but the second apparent violation was not addressed Tuesday, July 25.


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