Maryland imposes record fine on Sports Betting Alliance for failure to disclose campaign contributions

In a significant development, the Maryland State Board of Elections has levied the largest fine in its history against the Sports Betting Alliance, a consortium representing prominent gambling companies including DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, and Fanatics Sportsbook.

The consortium has been fined a record $48,000 for its failure to comply with the state’s 48-hour disclosure requirements during the 2020 campaign when voters were asked to approve legalizing sports wagering.

Jared DeMarinis, the director of the candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections, emphasized the board’s commitment to strict disclosure rules, as reported by Maryland Matters.

DeMarinis stated: “We’re cracking down hard on disclosure with independent expenditure entities, and that was the biggest one that was collected so far.” This fine is seen as a significant step in ensuring transparency and accountability in campaign financing.

The Maryland State Board of Elections collected approximately $75,000 in fines between April and May, targeting violations related to inadequate record-keeping of campaign donations and expenditures. While most penalties were relatively modest, amounting to $1,200 or less, the fine imposed on the Sports Betting Alliance stands out due to the accumulated substantial sum.

Of the total fines issued, nearly 91%, amounting to approximately $68,000, were attributed to four organizations’ failure to file 48-hour notice reports. In Maryland, independent expenditure organizations are permitted to accept uncapped contributions. However, any expenditures of $10,000 or more must be publicly disclosed to the Maryland State Board of Elections within 48 hours.

Failure to comply with the disclosure requirements carries significant consequences. Violating organizations can face a fine of $1,000 per day or 10% of their total spending in the state, whichever amount is greater. The imposition of these penalties aims to address the potential impact that independent expenditure committees can have on the ballot process.

The fines collected by the Maryland State Board of Elections are allocated to a state fund designated for candidates who opt for public campaign financing. This mechanism helps support candidates who choose public financing and encourages fairness in campaign funding.

The Sports Betting Alliance, represented by the Gober Group—a law firm specializing in political causes and ballot access—acknowledged the violation as a filing error committed by their compliance team.

Upon realizing the mistake, the consortium promptly rectified the error by filing the missing form and cooperating with the Maryland State Board of Elections to correct the oversight, a spokesperson said.