Maryland Hits Sports Betting Alliance With Fine For Campaign Finance Reporting

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Maryland sports betting

A sports betting trade group racked up a campaign-related fine in Maryland believed to be the first of its kind.

At its monthly meeting last week, the Maryland State Board of Election discussed a $48,000 fine for the Sports Betting Alliance for failing to comply with Maryland’s 48-hour disclosure requirements. The fine accrued $1,000 for each day the paperwork was missing.

“This was simply a filing error by our compliance team,” SBA spokesperson Nathan Click said in a statement to LSR. “As soon as we realized the mistake, we immediately filed the missing form and worked with the Maryland State Board of Election to correct the error.”

The fines for the SBA are related to the 2020 campaign season, where member companies contributed more than $5 million to the “Vote Yes on Question 2” campaign. Voters approved MD sports betting and sports betting launched in the state with in-person sportsbooks in 2021, while online sportsbooks came in 2022.

Sports Betting Alliance in Maryland

The SBA is a national organization representing BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics and FanDuel.

All four of the operators have Maryland sports betting licenses.

FanDuel controlled more than 45% of the market in May, taking $146.3 million in wagers. In 2023, FanDuel and DraftKings have taken more than 80% of all bets in Maryland.

Maryland fines stack up

The disclosures are part of a double filing requirement in Maryland for organizations that donate more than $10,000. All contributions to election candidates were publicly disclosed within 30 days through candidate committee reports, but the SBA failed to file its corresponding paperwork. The publicly available SBA report has not been updated as of Thursday.

Along with the ballot initiative, SBA members also contributed money to various political candidates in Maryland, including former Gov. Larry Hogan. Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the board, told LSR the SBA failed to disclose in a timely manner, and the organization acted in good faith when alerted to the issue.

“We’re cracking down hard on disclosure with independent expenditure entities, and that was the biggest one that was collected so far,” DeMarinis said at last week’s meeting.

The Board of Elections collected $74,900 in fines this spring. Most penalties were for less than $1,200, and 91% of the total came from four companies failing to meet the 48-hour window.

Sports betting gains unwanted attention

The fine comes as governmental attention on online gaming continues to mount. However, these fines are unrelated to any crackdown on sports betting, according to DeMarinis. Last year, the New York Times published a series highlighting the extensive lobbying efforts of sports betting companies.

More recently, legislators and regulators have been looking at the industry‘s marketing tactics. Multiple states and Canada are looking toward restricting online gaming advertisements. 

Meanwhile, Caesars and PointsBet have dropped partnerships with colleges over growing concerns about marketing sports betting to college-aged students.