Massachusetts regulator to hold hearings to define penalties for MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor casinos

Massachusetts’ gaming regulator plans to hold virtual hearings next week to decide whether to slap penalties on MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor for a series of illegal sports wagers, according to meeting agendas posted online. 

Within the first month of in-person betting, all three casinos in the state reported that patrons were able to place illegal wagers on in-state collegiate sporting events. Members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission launched investigations and planned judicial-like hearings to determine potential fines and repercussions. 

More than $1,200 in wagers were placed on a pair of Harvard University basketball games at MGM Springfield in February because the university was incorrectly listed as an out-of-state institution, Gaming Commission investigators revealed. 

When Harvard was originally added to a “blacklist document” under another state’s requirement of “no collegiate sports,” it was incorrectly designated as being located in Connecticut, not Cambridge, MGC Senior Enforcement Counsel Kathleen Kramer previously said. 

That designation was corrected by BetMGM, which runs the sportsbook at MGM Springfield. “In addition, BetMGM has reviewed and verified that all Massachusetts collegiate sports are properly restricted,” Kramer said.

In response to the incident, BetMGM said it planned to start a daily audit of all offered wagers “to confirm there are no restrictions before opening the sportsbook or offerings for the day,” Kramer said.

Massachusetts bans all betting on in-state collegiate teams unless they are competing in a tournament with four or more competitors like March Madness.

The Gaming Commission plans to meet on April 14 to discuss the illegal bets at MGM Springfield. Regulators then plan to convene the same day to review banned wagers at Encore Boston Harbor. Patrons there were able to place illegal wagers on a Boston College women’s basketball game at the end of February, according to the commission.

The bets were accepted because of a glitch in a backend system run by GAN, a sports betting vendor that helps Encore manage the list of events available for wagering, Massachusetts Gaming Commission Sports Betting Director Bruce Band said. It was the second time illegal bets were accepted at Encore. Patrons placed a total of $70 on another Boston College women’s basketball game at the start of February.

At a hearing last month, a third-party provider that helps run in-person sports betting at the casino said the $70 wager was placed because officials rushed to upload a list of approved betting events only days before retail wagering went live in Massachusetts. Regulators are still weighing potential penalties for the illegal bets at Encore, a spokesperson for the Gaming Commission said.