Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Massachusetts Sportsbooks Skip State Gaming Commission Roundtable

Massachusetts’ six online sports betting operators opted to sit out Tuesday’s regulatory roundtable discussion regarding how sportsbooks limit patrons.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) is seeking information about how and when sportsbooks decide to limit a customer’s ability to bet. The MGC gave the licensed sportsbooks plenty of time to decide whether they would attend the Tuesday discussion. Each decided to skip the meeting.

The MGC consideration comes after the state gaming regulatory agency said it fielded numerous complaints from disgruntled sports bettors who had their wagering limits capped. MGC Interim Director Jordan Maynard opened the virtual meeting by delivering the news that no sportsbook representatives would be providing insight into how their limiting processes function.

“This is a roundtable that will primarily focus on the how, when, and why a patron would be limited by a licensed sports wagering operator in the commonwealth. This meeting came about because the MGC was made aware … that some operators limit bettors who routinely win,” Maynard began.

Maynard said the MGC is of the impression that sportsbook operators limit or exclude bettors who violate their house rules. But the agency, Maynard stressed, was unaware that its current regulations permit a sportsbook from limiting or excluding a patron simply because they frequently win.

Maynard said the purpose of the roundtable was to learn the perspectives of the state’s sportsbooks and better understand the limiting practice. The interim chair said the sportsbooks asked for an executive closed-door session on an individual basis to protect their confidential risk management practices.

I want to clear the air that we are required by law to do our job in an open forum in Massachusetts,” Maynard defended the executive session denial. “At times, it can be uncomfortable to have these conversations in public. But transparency is key to the integrity of the [gaming] industry in Massachusetts.”

Each sportsbook responded to the MGC’s invitation to attend the roundtable. Each expressed similar concerns about discussing sensitive company secrets in a public forum.

Cory Fox, vice president of product and new market compliance at FanDuel, told the MGC that risk management “is a core part of our business and our value proposition as a sportsbook” that’s similar to setting prices or odds.

Lisa Rankin, vice president of compliance and licensing for Caesars Sportsbook, said the company “would prefer not to discuss” the matter in public because of “the proprietary nature of the subject matter.”

“DraftKings said in an unsigned letter that attending the forum would have required the “disclosure of the company’s confidential risk management practices and other commercially sensitive business information.”

Online sportsbooks say limiting bettors is uncommon, but that certainly isn’t what the MGC is hearing after a public input period. Along with disclosing the emails from the sportsbooks that declined the conversation invitation, the MGC made public dozens of emails from consumers claiming they’ve been wrongly limited by a licensed sports wagering operator in the commonwealth.

One bettor says he hasn’t been explained why he’s been heavily limited by three sportsbooks in Massachusetts.

“I have been sports betting since it became legal in Massachusetts,” wrote Brady Hughes. “I have been limited to pennies on DraftKings, ESPN Bet, and Fanatics. Sportsbooks preach ‘responsible gaming’ but limit anyone who makes money.”

“Sportsbooks hide behind responsible gambling messaging to limit wagers,” added Massachusetts sports bettor Nick Mascarello. “All we ask for is fair limits, not $3 because we know about sports. These billion-dollar companies that allow long-term losing bettors to risk $50,000 a game should allow a winner to place a small $100 wager at minimum.”

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