Maryland Elections Board Slaps Sports Betting Group With Record $48K Fine

Written By T.J. McBride on June 23, 2023 - Last Updated on June 26, 2023
SBA fined by maryland elections board

A group of the largest online sportsbooks in Maryland just learned the hard way that faulty clerical work can be an expensive mistake.

The Sports Betting Alliance – a group made up of BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics and FanDuel – must pay $48,000 for violating state election rules during the 2020 election cycle.

This fine, which is the largest ever imposed for election violations in Maryland, was given out to make sure others abide by the regulation set by the state.

Sports Betting Alliance fails to disclose donations within two-day window

The Sports Betting Alliance is made up of BetMGM Sportsbook, DraftKings MD, Fanatics Sportsbook, and FanDuel Maryland. The goal of the alliance is to represent the interests of the four Maryland sportsbooks. All four have been awarded online sports wagering licenses in MD.

The fine was imposed for violations of Maryland’s 48-hour disclosure requirements. Expenditures of $10,000 or more must be publicly revealed to the Maryland State Board of Elections within two days. This fine was levied by Maryland regulators for issues with the 2020 election cycle. That election led to online sports wagering being legalized and regulated in Maryland via voter referendum.

The fine is either $1,000 per day or 10% of what the organization spends in Maryland, whichever is more.

These requirements are important to a fair election process, Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections, told Maryland Matters.

“The whole point is that these penalties are here because of the impact independent expenditure committees can have on the process. They usually come in the last possible second and do some political ads or disseminate campaign material that could possibly affect the election and you need to have very timely disclosure to ensure that individuals are making informed choices at the ballot box.

“We’re cracking down hard on disclosure with independent expenditure entities and that was the biggest one that was collected so far.”

Sports Betting Alliance owned its mistake

This Sports Betting Alliance knows this mistake is squarely on their shoulders.

Once the mistake was realized, efforts were made by the Sports Betting Alliance to correct it. A Sports Betting Alliance spokesperson gave a statement to Maryland Matters about their mistake.

“This was simply a filing error by our compliance team. As soon as we realized the mistake, we immediately filed the missing form and worked with the Maryland State Board of Election to correct the error.”

In total, nearly $75,000 in fines were distributed between 28 entities in April and May. Of that total, around $68,000 in fines are specifically for failure to report their donations within a two-day period, which includes the nearly $50,000 the Sports Betting Alliance was fined. The money generated from these fines will go toward public campaign financing.

That clerical error turned out to be quite a costly one. While it might just be a drop in the bucket for these sportsbooks, the gravity of the biggest election fine in Maryland history still carries weight.

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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver, Colorado who covers the Denver Nuggets as a beat writer. His byline can be found across many websites such as ESPN, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report, and others.

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