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MGM, Wynn await word on possible punishment in Massachusetts

Executives of MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts Ltd. should know within a few days if their companies will be disciplined for violating Massachusetts’ new sports wagering regulations.

The five-member commission on Friday conducted two separate adjudicatory hearings to take statements on violations of rules that occurred shortly after sports wagering went live in the state Jan. 31. Both companies acknowledged the violations at their respective hearings.

The commission has the option of fining the two Las Vegas-based companies, or suspending or revoking their licenses.

Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said commissioners would deliberate in closed sessions and deliver a written statement about what punishment, if any, would occur.

MGM Resorts and Wynn were found to have taken wagers on college basketball games of teams from within the state.

Massachusetts’ newly-minted sports wagering regulations prohibit gamblers from betting on college sports for teams within the state, unless those teams are involved in a larger tournament.

In the case of MGM and Wynn, bets were mistakenly taken on college basketball games involving Harvard University and Boston College.

During the 30-minute hearing for MGM Springfield, the company on Feb. 10 self-reported that wagers were illegally taken Feb. 2-4 on Harvard’s games against Yale and Brown.

Massachusetts Investigations and Enforcement Bureau attorney Zachary Mercer said wagering on the Yale and Brown games were available 21 hours and 20 hours, respectively.

Mercer said $1,150.50 was bet on the Yale game and $80 on the Brown game. There were 28 total bets, all taken at automated kiosks, and bettors won a total $1,106.10.

MGM investigated how the wagers were allowed and determined that Harvard, more than two years ago, was incorrectly programmed into the computer system as a Connecticut school so the game escaped detection as a banned bet, Mercer said.

Testimony from the Wynn hearing said wagering was allowed on Boston College’s Feb. 12 women’s basketball game against the University of North Carolina and its Feb. 19 game against University of Louisville.

Mercer said bets were taken for four hours on the North Carolina game and for two hours on the Louisville contest.

Three wagers totalling $163 were made on North Carolina, including a parlay bet, with winnings totalling $53, with $12 paid on that leg of the parlay. Four wagers totalling $50 were made with one winning $9.09. All seven wagers were placed at kiosks.

Wynn’s WynnBets subsidiary works with two suppliers, GAN Nevada and Genius Sports, which supply the technology for the wagering at Encore Boston Harbor.

According to testimony in the 100-minute hearing, the illegal wagering occurred because of a glitch in the computerized naming convention listing “Boston College” and “Boston College Eagles,” that didn’t identify them as banned teams for wagers.

Because sports wagering is new to Massachusetts and the MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor incidents were among the first reported, it’s unclear how long it will take for the commission to deliver a finding in both matters.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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