Massachusetts Holds Hearing For Wynn Resorts, Penn Entertainment Sports-Betting Violations

March 15, 2023
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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission held two hearings on Tuesday with representatives from Wynn Resorts and Penn Entertainment casinos to discuss potential penalties, after each company self-reported accepting illegal wagers on in-state college games.

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) held two hearings on Tuesday (March 14) with representatives from Wynn Resorts and Penn Entertainment casinos to discuss potential penalties after each company self-reported accepting illegal wagers on in-state college games.

The five-member commission did not make an immediate decision on penalties or fines related to the violations. MGC chair Cathy Judd-Stein said they will issue a written decision at a later date.

The incidents occurred at Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park Casino and involved violations of the state’s strict regulations related to betting on in-state college teams. Retail sports betting in Massachusetts launched on January 31.

Massachusetts law expressly prohibits wagering on in-state college games apart from when Massachusetts teams are competing in tournaments with four or more college teams.

The Encore Boston Harbor violation occurred on February 2 when a money line wager was made on a Boston College women’s basketball game against Notre Dame at a WynnBET kiosk as part of a five-game parlay bet.

Partner GAN omitted the game from its prohibited list, but after noticing the mistake froze the ticket and removed Boston College as part of the parlay.

Heather Hall, chief enforcement counsel with the MGC’s Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB), said during the investigation they found that wagers on the Boston College game were available for five hours but there was only one bet placed. Hall said $70 was wagered on the parlay ticket and the unidentified patron won $22.74.

“This was a self-reported incident,” Hall said. “WynnBET is conducting a twice daily audit, in the morning and evenings, of Massachusetts colleges to ensure that no Massachusetts regular season games are offered for wagering.”

Commissioner Eileen Brown asked for an explanation about Genius Sports' role in this incident and how a patron was able to wager on the Boston College women’s basketball game.

“How our system works, is we got the approved list probably 24 to 48 hours before we went live,” said Rob Lekites, GAN’s vice president of North American sports betting sales and operations.

“We can go into our system and basically blacklist teams, so the teams will not reach the environment for a patron to wager on,” Lekites said. “We got the event fixture list that came in through Genius Sports and each of the teams have a team name. We went through our system prior to going live and blacklisted all teams.”

Lekites assured the commission that the situation that happened was an anomaly.

“It was the only Massachusetts college team that had two names in our system,” he said. “You can imagine women’s college basketball globally is a very lightly wagering market. There is very little if any wagering on Boston College women’s basketball. So our team was not aware there was actually two names for Boston College in our system.”

Boston College was listed as both “Boston College women’s basketball” and Boston College Eagles women’s basketball” in GAN’s system that WynnBET uses.

“We regret accidently offering wagers on [a] Boston College women’s basketball game,” said Jennifer Krum, senior vice president and general counsel at Encore Boston Harbor.

“I’d like to say, we tried as quickly as we could, obviously we voided the bet before the game ever took place, and we put additional layers in place to make sure there are no further incidents,” Krum said. “As our system matures, we anticipate that there events will be far more unlikely.”

The MGC also heard from Plainridge Park Casino officials on Tuesday after they learned from an employee and self-reported allowing in-person retail wagers on a Merrimack College men’s basketball gaming against Long Island University.

The IEB reported that a total of $6,848 was wagered through 33 bets placed on 27 tickets.

State investigators also found that four of the wagers were placed with ticket writers at the retail sportsbook, while the remainder were all placed at kiosks. Merrimack was mistakenly listed in technology system vendor Kambi’s system as a Florida college.

Commissioner Brad Hill said he was trying to understand what happened at the wagering counter with Barstool Sports employees writing tickets on a Merrimack game.

“I understand at the kiosk but the [wagering counter],” Hill said. “I would have hoped that would have been caught by numerous people, not just one.”

Plainridge Park general manager North Grounsell admitted that having those wagers placed with a sportsbook ticket writer was unfortunate.

“I think that was on day two of operations,” Grounsell said. “They were deeply involved in still learning a lot of our systems and this was just an error and oversight on their part.”

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