• Multiple sportsbooks and casinos in various states were found to be in violation of state law since sports betting became regulated.
  • Fines were the primary punishment, but may prove ineffective if not raised higher.
  • The revenue in most of these casinos and sportsbooks far exceeds the fines that they were charged with.

WASHINGTON – Over the last few months various state casinos and sportsbooks have been found to be taking wagers on games deemed against state betting restrictions. Some found to be in violation of the law includes Colorado’s Monarch Casino, all three Massachusetts casinos, and Barstool Sportsbook.

Almost all of them were subsequently given fines, with Monarch Casino topping the list, paying up $400,000.

These occurrences may not slow down either if states do not tighten up their enforcement and punishment of legal betting sites that disregard regulations.

What Happened and How Did They Get Caught?

Barely more than two weeks after sports betting was legalized in Massachusetts, all three casinos were found to have taken bets on in-state teams, which is prohibited by state law. Most of the violations were self-reported after it was brought to their attention.

The law in place protects student athletes who are at risk of being corrupted by predatory casinos or sportsbooks to fix the outcome of bets. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is now in the process of scheduling hearings for the various infractions.

The outcome of the hearings and the ensuing decisions by the commission is going to be one of the most important developments for the future of legal Massachusetts sports betting.

The commission has had preliminary discussions about a fine of between $5,000-$50,000, which was the amount reported in other parts of the country that dealt with the accepting of illegal wagers.

Given that all of these casinos make around $20 million per month, these fines barely seem like a drop in the bucket and may lead to further issues if casinos show little regard for the relatively small punishment.

Colorado’s Monarch Casino similarly was also found to be in violation of state law, but for proxy betting. Nearly 80 total bets that amounted to $60,769.45 were placed by three employees. The max punishment possible was approximately $2 million and suspension/revocation of the betting license.

Monarch self-reported these violations, leading to the implementation of anti-fraud measures like geolocation tracking by the company GeoComply. Stadium, the previous vendor that typically logs geolocation data, was found to have not done their checks and failed to notice the unrealistic location hopping that characterized the proxy betting.

For these violations Monarch Casino was fined just $400,000, much less than the maximum amount. But similar to establishments in Massachusetts, Monarch Casino & Resort rakes in about $15.4 million each month, making the $400,000 a slap on the wrist despite being on the higher end of fines for Colorado sports betting infringements.

Lastly, Barstool Sportsbook self-reported 184 counts of illegal bets on college football last season. As a result, the Tennessee Sports Wagering Advisory Council has levied a $92,000 fine.

While Barstool did refund any money lost by bettors as well as allowing winnings to be kept for those that bet on the illegal games, it remains to be seen if the often-fined company will learn their lesson. The sportsbook was previously fined $250,000 for advertising on the University of Toledo’s campus.

With the continued infractions by Barstool, it seems apparent that small fines are no deterrent to activity like this.

While legislatures look for solutions to the problem of legal sportsbooks and casinos violating betting laws, it may be wise for them to deter unlawful activity by raising fines, revoking licenses, or some other action that will be more substantial than a petty fine and wishful thinking.

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