Massachusetts Considers Modifications To Data Privacy Regulations

February 20, 2024
As a first set of waivers to give sports-betting operators more time to come into compliance with data privacy rules are set to expire in June, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is considering some modifications to the regulations.

As a first set of waivers to give sports-betting operators more time to come into compliance with data privacy rules are set to expire in June, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is considering some modifications to the regulations.

Mina Makarious, a partner with Anderson & Kreiger and outside counsel to the commission, said the proposed amendments were “not identifying new issues or new problems”, but were based on conversations with operators who had expressed some concerns over the initial language within the rules.

The data privacy rules, which were adopted in August 2023, are contained in 205-CMR-207

Makarious told commissioners on Thursday (February 15) that one provision that gave several operators some concern was making clear what player data is necessary to operate or advertise a sports wagering operation. 

“We added a slight modifier here with reasonably, which has some inherent vagueness, but it does capture that businesses might make different business decisions about what data they need to hold and retain,” Makarious said. “It doesn’t change what the protections are.” 

The amendment reads in part: “A sports wagering operator shall only use and retain confidential information and personally identifiable information for legitimate business purposes 'reasonably' necessary to operate or advertise a sports wagering area, sports wagering facility or sports wagering platform.”

Makarious said the provision was also modified with a reference to holding data or sharing data in the context of asset sales, acquisitions or corporate agreements.

“The concern, and maybe this is only a concern that lawyers can have, is you don’t need to hold data to give to another business to operate your business other than to sell it,” Makarious said. 

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien questioned whether the decision to add reasonably came out of the roundtable that officials had with operators in September “because I thought we clearly conveyed to them that the language we had incorporated (dealt with) all the issues they had.”

Makarious confirmed the issue did come out of the meeting, and he reminded O’Brien that the commission could make the decision to say the regulation says what it says, and leave it to operators to interpret the rule.

Commissioners Nakisha Skinner and Jordan Maynard also questioned the need for these changes.

“I have no comments that are in front of me,” Maynard said. “I don’t know who asked for this. I don’t know why they are asking for it. I don’t know what they think this change will mean versus what we think this change will mean.”

“It is just hard for me to make a decision on that,” he added.

Other amendments to the data privacy rules included the length of dormancy of a sports-betting account “other than a period of non-use associated with the seasonality of wagers on particular events”, such as the National Football League season.

Operators would also not be required to include any information on their websites about their privacy policy that might compromise its effectiveness in protecting consumer information.

In the end, commissioners agreed to have the Massachusetts attorney general’s office review the amendments to the data privacy regulations prior to deciding how to move forward.

BetMGM Illegal Wagers

The commission on Thursday also heard from its Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) concerning several incidents of BetMGM and MGM Springfield accepting wagers on unauthorized sporting events or taking bets on events after the results were known.

Nate Kennedy, chief enforcement counsel for the MGC, said BetMGM accepted wagers on whether players would receive yellow or red cards across multiple soccer leagues. The company took 2,564 total wagers that were part of parlay offerings and involved more than $42,000 in total handle.

O’Brien asked Kennedy if the violations were self-reported or found by commission staff.

“This was discovered by our sports wagering division,” Kennedy said. “It also appears that it came to us via Major League Soccer. They had contacted [MGC sports wagering division] director [Bruce] Band asking us to please prohibit these offerings.”

“Obviously, the offerings were previously prohibited,” he added.

Kennedy said, as a result, Band sent an email to all operators reminding them that this was a prohibited offering. 

“BetMGM went back and noticed that they had been offering, in fact, this prohibited type of wagering,” he said.

In total, BetMGM awaits punishment for a total of three violations of sports wagering regulations. The other two were for accepting wagers on events after the results were known, while MGM Springfield accepted wagers on unauthorized events.

The commissioners asked for more context around what has and has not happened with similar issues. The IEB will investigate and come back to the commission with its report as soon as possible, according to a MGC spokesman. 

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