BetMGM will pay Maryland more than $145,000 for taking opening online sports betting before the official start date.
The MD sports betting market soft-launched for online operators on Nov. 21 , but BetMGM took online wagers as early as Nov. 16, according to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission, which issued the largest fine in its 49-year history during a settlement meeting Thursday.
More than 140 mobile bets were placed on BetMGM’s platform during a three-hour window it operated without a license, according to BetMGM.
It sent the following message to customers who bet too early:
Wrong Maryland sports betting link
The operator attempted to explain how the improper wagers happened.
“At the time, we were going through the checks for our controlled demo that would start next week,” Roman Rubas, Director of Technical Governance said during the meeting. “One of those links got redirected in production, instead of being brought back to the splash page that said ‘it’s showtime, you’ll be able to wager soon,’ they were actually redirected to the sportsbook.”
BetMGM Compliance Officer Rhea Loney told commissioners the sportsbook has “learned its lesson” and is taking the proper precautions to ensure early betting does not occur before launch in more states.
The consent agreement prevents a formal hearing that could have resulted in a larger fine. Previously the largest settlement agreement the commission handed out was $5,000, according to Seth Elkin, a spokesperson for the commission.
Call for crackdown on wonky tech
Not every commissioner was satisfied.
“$146K may be the largest penalty that we’ve ever levied against a company, but I see that no more powerful than a slap on the hand,” said commissioner Harold Hodges, who called on the commission to reform its policies as more operators run into technical issues, such as the widespread hacking that occurred over the past few months.
His request to table the vote for a later date was denied by the commission. He was the only commissioner who voted to oppose the settlement agreement with BetMGM.
Will error affect BetMGM MA license?
Also on Thursday, Massachusetts sports betting regulators voted to delay a vote on BetMGM’s retail license, as they opted to spend more time reviewing Caesars’ license first.
Questions about BetMGM’s Maryland violations could come up during its upcoming hearing, as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been particularly thorough in its review of potential operators.