Legal sports betting in Massachusetts has gotten off to a rocky start with immediate violations to the regulations in regards to college sports betting in the commonwealth. While Massachusetts online sports betting has yet to go live, with an expected launch date of March 10th, retail locations have opened as of January 31st.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission ascertained that two of the three active casinos in Massachusetts, Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor, have allowed college sports betting on in-state teams. This is prohibited by legal sports betting regulations in the state.
Barstool Sportsbook partner Plainridge Park Casino accepted Wagers on Merrimack College men’s basketball games for approximately seven hours. Encore Boston Harbor, partnered with WynnBET, took action on Boston College women’s basketball games for five hours, according to investigators
There is overwhelming evidence that would suggest that these were honest mistakes by the casinos and not an outright attempt to break the legal gambling rules in Massachusetts. For one, both casinos reported these violations themselves. A spokesperson for Encore Boston Harbor stated:
“The resort self-reported the error to the Gaming Commission, and has instituted additional measures to ensure compliance moving forward.”
Plainridge Park general manager North Grounsell said:
“Due to a data input error by one of our vendors, we notified and self-reported a violation to the MGC. We regret that this mistake happened, take full responsibility, and have added several remedial steps to our compliance process to help prevent this from happening again.”
While it is unfortunate that these rules were breached, it is understandable that technical hiccups could occur early in operation. In addition, these particular sporting events are not in demand for betting, meaning that the operators would not benefit to any great degree for allowing them to be wagered on.
There is some chance that this violation could put the expected March 10th launch of online betting operations in jeopardy. This is particularly true as it is days before the beginning of the “March Madness” NCAA basketball tournament.
The good news is that Massachusetts regulations allow betting on in-state college teams when playing in a tournament featuring at least four other schools, such as March Madness. So, there will not be concerns on betting operators allowing illegal bets on in-state teams during the tournament.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will continue to investigate this issue and determine what corrective action must be taken. There may be fines issued to the violating casinos, and we will have to see how this affects the March 10th launch of online sports betting. We will keep you posted as this story unfolds.