While nearly 40 US states currently offer legal sports wagering, not all of them permit all types of wagers. For example, some states allow betting on collegiate teams when it’s out of state, effectively restricting wagering on in-state collegiate sports. One such state is Massachusetts.
Currently, the state restricts in-state college sports betting with the exception of teams that participate in tournaments of four or more teams. Not unexpectedly, prop betting on in-state collegiate teams is also not allowed. Despite the established rules, breaches are not impossible, which is precisely what happened during the 2023 football season.
One of the major operators in the sports betting vertical in Massachusetts, BetMGM, is in hot water after allegedly accepting prohibited prop bets on individual college athletes. The alleged violation of the established rules was discussed during a meeting of the state’s gambling regulator, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) last week. At the time, the Commission claimed that the sports betting operator accepted more than $200,000 worth of improper wagers. This translates to more than 15,000 bets allegedly accepted by BetMGM during the 2023 college football season.
It is not uncommon for breaches of the gambling regulations to be self-reported by the operators. Yet, Cathy Judd-Stein, the MGC’s chair, who was quoted by PlayMA, revealed that the alleged violation of BetMGM was uncovered as a part of an audit. She explained that prop wagers on collegiate athletes are a violation in Massachusetts, adding that the state has established clear rules that prohibit such wagers. Finally, Judd-Stein explained: “I know I’m personally interested in resolving this matter as quickly as possible for the protection of student-athletes.”
“Prop bets on students is a statutory violation here in Massachusetts.“
Cathy Judd-Stein, chair of the MGC
Adjudicatory Hearing Is Expected
Besides the alleged violations of BetMGM, the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) uncovered details regarding two other minor breaches. The MGC heard that BetMGM’s retail sportsbook and Fanatics Sportsbook allegedly accepted two separate prohibited wagers for college games. Each of the bets was less than $10. The aforementioned breaches were sent back to the IEB.
On the other hand, considering the scale of BetMGM’s alleged breaches, the Commission decided to refer the matter to the IEB which will subsequently seek an adjudicatory hearing. This otherwise means that a court would hear the facts and determine if a penalty needs to be applied. Once this happens, the MGC will be able to either greenlight or reject a penalty that can vary depending on the severity of the breach.