Massachusetts Regulators Probe Underage Sports Betting Reports

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2023/11/28/massachusetts-regulators-probe-underage-sports-betting-reports/


By Colin A. Young
State House News Service

Regulators at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission are taking an interest in whether people younger than the legal betting age of 21 are using mobile platforms to bet on sports and what the betting platforms operating here are doing to prevent that from happening.

Commissioners raised the topic Monday as four sports betting companies presented quarterly reports to the commission. Commissioner Brad Hill mentioned meetings and conversations the Gaming Commission has had with “outside sources” that revealed “there is some concern that there are individuals who are under-aged using computers and passwords from people who are of-age to bet.”

Massachusetts’s 2022 sports betting law requires that gamblers be at least 21 years old to wager at one of three physical sportsbooks or on one of eight online/mobile betting platforms that the commission licenses. The law also requires operators to “use commercially reasonable efforts to prevent a person under 21 years old from placing a wager.”

The operators who presented Monday, November 27 reported a total of eight accounts suspended during July, August, and September for underage use, though commissioners said they believe that is merely the number of suspected cases that were able to be substantiated. The operators detailed the steps they take to try to ensure that the person actually betting is the person who was cleared as eligible to open an account.

“So example:  I’m able to bet. My 16-year-old knows my passwords, I allow him to go in and bet — which we’re being told is happening. We didn’t have any proof of it, but just that it was happening — can you kind of enlighten us [about] what protocols are put into place to make sure this doesn’t happen?” Hill asked a representative of Caesars Sportsbook. “And can you stop it? Because, as I said in that meeting that we had with this outside source, you know, if somebody wants to cheat, they’ll cheat.”

Curtis Lane Jr., digital compliance manager for Caesars Sportsbook, walked the commission through some of the steps his company takes to identify accounts that might be controlled by someone other than the person who registered, like picking up on betting activity from far-apart locations, flagging unusual betting patterns, or identifying accounts that are used by multiple devices. Each of the other operators that presented third quarter results to the commission Monday — DraftKings, Penn Sports Interactive, and WynnBet — also addressed the topic of minors using their apps and said they all use similar methods.

“I would reiterate what one of the commissioners stated, that, ultimately, it is difficult to police bad parenting. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of controls in place for this,” said Jake List, senior director of regulatory operations for DraftKings. He said DraftKings’ “know your customer” (KYC) regime includes identity verification, a geocompliance tool that checks if a user’s device is recognized by other programs the user has signed up for, and in some cases requires a new user to upload a copy of the user’s ID.

DraftKings reported to the commission that it suspended five Massachusetts accounts last quarter for claims of underage wagering. The company’s presentation included a disclaimer that read, “These users have made claims that an underage individual, usually a family member, placed a wager on the of-age user’s account or there was some other evidence to support that the account was being operated by an underage individual who was not the account holder.”

Adam Kates, senior director of compliance for Penn Sports Interactive, told commissioners that his company switched in July to its own in-house back-end technology. As part of that switch Penn now requires anyone creating a new sports betting account to upload both a government-issued ID and a real-time selfie.

“It’s not a situation where you can upload a picture of anybody, it will actually open the camera on your phone, you’ll take a selfie, and our vendor will actually match your face to the to the face on that ID. So this is a really good control for us to make sure that we know who we’re dealing with, and that the person who’s actually registering for the account is the person who should hold the account,” Kates said. “How this fits into the underage spectrum is, we find that it’s a lot harder for a teen-ager to use their parent’s information and just open up an account. By adding the ID and selfie piece, you have to be holding the ID and the phone in order to open up an account.”

After the four presentations, Hill said he was “very comfortable at what I heard today and actually pleasantly surprised at what I heard today.” He said he would share the information with the person or people who brought the concern about underage wagering to him but said it will also be something the Gaming Commission keeps an eye on.

“I just think it’s something that we need to continue to keep an eye on and work with our operators to ensure that this is a priority for them,” Hill said. “I think, over the next few weeks, few months, and you know, into a new year, this issue is going to come up in regards to how we can get this information out to our high school students, college students who aren’t of age, things of that sort.”

Commissioner Jordan Maynard said at the end of the meeting that the commission should be thinking about ways to enhance know-your-customer measures and also about how to raise awareness of underage betting.

“Informing parents — I mean, listen, I can literally create an account with my mother’s name today. Because I know everything about her — I know where she was married, where she graduated high school, what her birthday is,” Maynard said. “And so educating parents that there could be some dummy accounts out there that they need to watch for, watching their devices, I think it’s an all-inclusive strategy. I think KYC is a piece of it.”

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