Massachusetts Fines Wynn $40,000 For Unpermitted Wagers

February 27, 2024
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has fined Wynn Resorts' Encore Boston Harbor $40,000 as a result of its sportsbook accepting illegal wagers on two separate Boston College women’s basketball games last year.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has fined Encore Boston Harbor $40,000 as a result of its sportsbook accepting illegal wagers on two separate Boston College women’s basketball games last year, the commission announced on Monday (February 26).

Massachusetts law prohibits wagers on in-state college and university athletic teams unless they are competing in a tournament. Encore Boston Harbor reported to the commission on February 21, 2023 that it had improperly accepted wagers on two unauthorized events.

On February 12, 2023, Encore offered wagers on a regular season Boston College versus University of North Carolina women’s basketball game. In total, three wagers totaling $163 were placed at kiosks, with one winning bet as part of a parlay that totaled $53.

On February 15, 2023, during an audit of wagering offerings in Massachusetts, sports-betting subsidiary WynnBET identified that a regular season game between Boston College and the University of Louisville women’s basketball game had been uploaded for wagering but was manually disabled.

Despite manually disabling the offerings, the game did not remain disabled. On February 19, 2023, four bets were placed on the game and the total amount wagered was $50. The wagers were each placed at a kiosk, and there was one winning wager for $9.09.

This was the second set of in-state college games that Encore had accepted wagers on in the month of February last year. The MGC previously fined the company $10,000 for offering betting on a Boston College versus Notre Dame women’s basketball game.

After issuing a fine against Encore Boston Harbor, the five-member commission still needs to hold a hearing on DraftKings accepting more than $83,000 in credit card wagers in violation of state law and issue a decision on BetMGM accepting more than 15,000 wagers and collecting some $200,000 on proposition bets on college football games, which is also a violation of state gaming regulations. 

In a six-page decision released Monday, the MGC described Encore Boston Habor’s noncompliance as “a serious violation of statute, regulation, and the Massachusetts Sports Wagering Catalog.”

“First ... the legislature made clear that wagers on Massachusetts collegiate teams not involved in a collegiate tournament are prohibited. That prohibition was in place the day the statute was enacted.”

In addition, the MGC wrote, the noncompliance incident was Encore’s second violation of the same statutory provision in a period of weeks.

“Despite identifying the first noncompliance incident, Encore failed to resolve the underlying issue or put adequate guardrails in place, resulting in its immediate repetition. Second, neither Encore nor its vendors were prepared for the adjudicatory hearing, which featured confusion and miscommunication from Encore, WynnBET, and [technology partner] GAN.”

The MGC’s decision stressed that this was especially troubling given the same communication issues in the adjudicatory hearing regarding the February 2, 2023 incident.

Only after the commission requested additional information from Encore was a cogent explanation and solution for the incident provided.

“Despite this being the second adjudicatory hearing on the same type of noncompliance event, Encore did not demonstrate that it had its vendors under control, or that it had even coordinated with them in preparation for the hearing. The commission expects more of its operators and licensees,” the regulator wrote.

Finally, the decision took issue with Encore’s initial solution to the incident, which was to remove women’s collegiate basketball entirely from its offerings.

“Such a fix, by sledgehammer rather than scalpel, is not an ideal solution. Operators should work to identify issues and fix them in a nuanced manner, which reflects a full understanding of the issue in question.”

Since the incident, Encore has instituted twice-daily morning and evening audits of its college sports offerings in Massachusetts to confirm that no lines are being offered on in-state colleges or universities. 

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