Massachusetts fines Fanatics $10K for allowing bet on college game

Massachusetts fines Fanatics $10K for allowing bet on college game
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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has fined Fanatics Sportsbook $10,000 for taking a wager on an in-state college football game.

The commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau had recommended imposing a $10,000 civil assessment penalty on Fanatics as punishment for accepting a $50 futures bet on Dec. 5 on the game known as the Fenway Bowl between Boston College and Southern Methodist University.

The MGC prohibits betting on in-state colleges unless the games are part of tournaments with four or more teams.

Fanatics told the MGC that the option to allow wagering on the college game was erroneously turned on by a new employee. The investigation found that Fanatics noticed the bet and self-reported the incident and the wager was refunded the day after it was placed. The game itself didn’t take place until Dec. 28.

Fanatics told the MGC that the option to allow wagering on the college game was erroneously turned on by a new employee.

On Thursday, the MGC unanimously accepted the IEB’s recommendation for a $10,000 fine to Fanatics by a 4-0 vote. Fanatics accepted the penalty despite its quick fix.

“The goal of the commission… was to make sure that we set the goalposts and once the goalposts were set they were followed,” MGC interim chair Jordan Maynard said at the commission’s session on May 23. “I see that here.”

Fanatics is not the first operator to have received a fine as a result of allowing bets on college games. Encore Boston Harbor received a $40,000 fine earlier this year for allowing in-person wagers on in-state schools. All three of the state’s commercial casinos were also punished last year for offering wagering on state colleges.

Efforts to block college sports betting continue

Whether or not bets should be allowed on college sports (and if so, to what extent) is a hotly debated issue in North America right now.

In March, around the time of the annual March Madness basketball tournaments, NCAA President Charlie Baker publicly urged all states to prohibit individual prop bets for college athletics events. Baker cited threats to sporting integrity and athlete health as the main motivations behind the proposed ban.

Over the past few months, numerous states have either implemented or proposed legislation to curb wagering on college sports.

Ohio and Maryland banned individual college player props this spring prior to Baker’s open letter. Since the NCAA president spoke, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board announced that college prop bets will not be allowed in the state after Aug. 1, and lawmakers in New Jersey and the still-young North Carolina market have introduced legislation to ban those wagers.

Not every state is willing to walk down that path, though.

Montana Lottery director Bob Brown said last month the state does not believe banning college player props is necessary. Meanwhile, Connecticut lawmakers have proposed amending the state’s gaming law to allow sports wagering on in-state universities when those teams are participating in tournaments, similar to the Massachusetts law.

Fanatics among sportsbooks to dodge MGC session

Massachusetts gaming has also been in the news for a different reason this week.

As the state continues to explore the possibility of implementing wagering limits, the MGC held a public roundtable on the topic on May 22. All 10 private sportsbook operators currently operational in the state, including Fanatics, declined to attend. Bally’s, which is not yet in market in the Bay State, was the only operator to take part in the debate, sending Director of Compliance Justin Black.

MGC commissioners said the session was effectively a waste of time without the operators’ presence.

Fanatics was one of the operators to address its absence, writing in a statement that “while Fanatics intends to fully participate in any rulemaking process related to wager limits, we must respectfully decline the opportunity to discuss this matter in a public forum, as we feel we likely cannot provide any further information without divulging what we believe to be proprietary and confidential trade secrets on our risk management policies and procedures.”