scorecardresearch Skip to main content
sports betting

Massachusetts’s three sportsbooks allowed illegal bets to be placed on college sports

Plainridge mistakenly listed Merrimack as a school in Florida, and more than $6,000 was bet on its men's basketball game Feb. 2 before the error was noticed.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

If the first days of legal sports wagering in Massachusetts counted as a pop quiz when it came to betting on the state’s college teams, all three casinos failed.

MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, and Plainridge Park Casino each self-reported instances in which their sportsbooks allowed bets to be placed on games featuring one of the 125-plus Massachusetts post-secondary institutions.

That’s an infraction of the state’s sports wagering law, which forbids bets on Massachusetts college teams unless the team is participating in a tournament with at least three other schools.

At a Massachusetts Gaming Commission hearing this week, officials attributed human error by outside vendors for the violations at Encore and Plainridge.


Commissioners will hold adjudicatory hearings to determine what, if any, penalties will be imposed on the casinos. A similar process is expected after details on Springfield’s infractions emerge in the coming days.

Retail sports betting kicked off in the state Jan. 31. Mobile betting is slated to begin March 10.

At Plainridge, an employee at its sports betting platform provider Kambi mistakenly labeled Merrimack College as a Florida school when it posted a Feb. 2 men’s basketball matchup against Long Island University. The wrong designation allowed the game to evade computerized compliance filters, and it was listed for seven hours. The casino took in 33 bets worth $6,848 and awarded $4,270 in winnings before a teller noticed that Merrimack is actually based in Massachusetts.

To avoid future infractions, Plainridge instituted a daily check of Kambi’s college offerings that requires a manager to sign off on before they are posted. The teller who noticed the error was rewarded.

Legal sports wagering in Massachusetts kicked off earlier this year.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

“Due to a data input error by one of our vendors, we notified and self-reported a violation to the MGC,” said North Grounsell, general manager of Plainridge Park Casino in an e-mail. “We regret that this mistake happened, take full responsibility, and have added several remedial steps to our compliance process to help prevent this from happening again.


“At Plainridge Park, we foster an environment that allows employees to report issues if they arise and applaud our team members that contributed to self-reporting this violation.”

During the five hours in which the Feb. 2 Boston College-Notre Dame women’s basketball game was available at Encore, a single money-line bet was placed as part of a five-team parlay before the C portion of the bet was nullified prior to tipoff.

MGC commissioners were told the Eagles game was mistakenly omitted from a prohibited wagers list.

Encore’s sportsbook operator, WynnBet, notified the MGC that it will now conduct audits twice a day, morning and evening, to confirm that no Massachusetts games are listed. WynnBet will take responsibility for signing off on all collegiate offerings.

“We will continue to cooperate with the Gaming Commission’s investigation,” said an Encore spokesperson in an e-mail. “In the interim, we have implemented additional measures to ensure compliance.”

MGC investigators are still looking into MGM Springfield, where the sportsbook took bets on the Feb. 3 and 4 Harvard men’s basketball games against Yale and Brown.

The MGC hopes to hold adjudicatory meetings, which could result in fines, before the end of February or in early March.

Michael Silverman can be reached at