MA regulators hear from Encore, Plainridge Park on college betting mishaps

Sign for Boston College
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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) met Tuesday to hear from Encore Boston Harbor and Plainrdige Park casinos related to their violation of the in-state college betting ban. All three retail sportsbooks in the state reported violations since retail sports betting launched on Jan. 31.

Encore Boston harbors took bets on BC women’s basketball

Encore Boston Harbor today told the MGC that its WynnBet retail sportsbook had accepted a bet on Boston College Eagles women’s team because of a mistake with the naming within its system. 

On Feb 2, Encore/WynnBet accepted a parlay wager from a customer on a betting kiosk, one leg of which was on the Boston College Eagles women’s basketball team.

Encore stated it was an issue with its sportsbook supplier GAN’s system, which did not recognize that the Boston College men’s and women’s basketball teams had separate names within its platform. 

Jacqui Krum, General Counsel at Encore, cited the rush of getting the platform ready for the Jan 31 retail launch date for the bet, which totaled $70 and won just over $22.

Rob Lekites, VP of North American Sportsbook Sales & Operations at GAN, gave evidence to the MGC on the firm’s behalf and explained that the prohibited bet was an “anomaly”. He explained GAN was unaware that there were two different team names listed for Boston College for men’s and women’s teams. 

He said: “It was the only Massachusetts college team that had two names for it in our system we were unaware of. As you can imagine, women’s college basketball, globally, where we operate our sportsbook, is a very lightly wagered market. Our team was not aware that there were actually two names for Boston College in our system so when we went through and searched the team name, we hit Boston College – disabled, blacklist – that was not available (to bet on). 

“Unfortunately, there was a second name in there, which is how this came through to the system from our data provider into the environment to be wagered on. And we just weren’t aware that there was a second name in our system for that team.”

WynnBet implementing manual audits to avoid future errors

After the prohibited bet, Encore put steps in place to ensure this would not occur again, with GAN now fixing it so the Boston College Eagles women are now on the prohibited wagers list. 

Further, they also perform twice-daily manual audits of the bets being placed to make sure that events wagered on are only from the approved list. 

Jennifer Roberts, VP/General Counsel at WynnBet, explained the process to the Commission, stating: “Our WynnBet trading team is responsible for reviewing the markets that get published to the patrons. When we learned about this first incident, we had assigned the trading team to conduct twice daily audits once in the morning and once in the evening, to ensure that no Boston colleges are performed. 

“They actually will go into the system, and review what are all everything that is being offered to the public. When it comes into the feed from GAN, they’ll review that and go through and look and see everything that’s being offered in the app or on the kiosks or at the trading windows.”

Encore and WynnBet closed out by outlining their regret that the error took place, and reiterated the steps it is taking to avoid future mistakes from occurring. 

Plainridge Park said Kambi error caused Merrimack College betting error

Like Encore Boston Harbor, Plainridge Park Casino’s infraction was the result of an issue with an odds provider, though the casino works with Kambi rather than GAN.

“Both PPC and Penn Entertainment understand the importance of compliance,” said Plainridge Park General Manager Northscott Grounsel. He acknowledged the error and the team offered some details on how the mistake happened in the first place.

According to Plainridge Park’s testimony, Merrimack College was mistakenly entered into the GAN system as a school not located in Massachusetts. The school is located in Andover, MA, roughly five miles from the New Hampshire border.

Commissioner Bradford Hill wanted to understand how wagers on this event were bet on at the window, where a person inputted and processed the wager. Grounsel explained that one employee did question the wager but the bet was still issued. He later commended that employee for calling out the issue and keeping compliance top of mind.

The sportsbook discovered the problem after the game when a patron came to the counter to cash their ticket. In addition to notifying Kambi through internal systems. Plainridge Park also contacted Penn Interactive, who reached out to Kambi directly to flag the issue. Plainridge Park also self-reported the issue to the MGC.

In response to the incident, Kambi ran a full audit of its internal controls. Plainridge Park also circulated a list of all state colleges to sportsbook employees. There are also new procedures implemented requiring sign-off from sportsbook managers.

Like Encore Boston Harbor, Plainridge Park must wait for the five commissioners to deliberate, which is done in private, and issue a written ruling on the matter.

Jessica Welman also contributed to this reporting.