BetMGM Maryland Fined $146k for Accepting Bets Before Online Market Launch

USA Legal Betting


  • BetMGM accepted bets a week before the online market launched
  • Maryland accepted $200 million in wagers in November
  • As more states expand their sports betting markets , others are pressured to follow suit

BetMGM was hit with Maryland’s first fine in the sports betting era for allegedly accepting bets before the market was opened for business.

The state’s regulations prohibited sportsbooks from collecting wagers online before the November 23 deadline. According to the Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency, BetMGM failed to respect those rules and was subsequently punished with a hefty fine.

The operator will have to pay $146,000, a total reached in a settlement between BetMGM and the state, for its infractions.

Jumping the whistle

The build-up to the Maryland sports betting launch was hectic for many U.S. sportsbooks. State voters showed overwhelming support for sports betting legalization in a 2020 referendum, but despite Governor Larry Governor Hogan signing HB 940 and legalizing in-person and online wagering in 2021, local bettors were forced to wait until last month to place online bets.

BetMGM received its official operator's license from the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) on November 22, just one day before the market launch. 

It is now known that BetMGM sportsbook customers were illegally allowed to make online wagers even before the market launched, violating stipulations implemented by Hogan and the state control board.

BetMGM’s agreement to the settlement does not mean that it is admitting guilt or innocence but waives its right to legal counsel.

“If a licensee violates a provision of the Sports Wagering Law, a regulation promulgated by the Commission, or a directive of the Commission or the Director of the Agency, the Commission is authorized to, after a hearing, take action against a licensee that may include suspension or revocation of a license, and levying a civil penalty for each violation,” a consent order detailed.

The reveal of the BetMGM’s violations compounds the mystery that preceded the online launch. State officials spent months promising the online market was imminent but continually failed to announce a set date until a mid-November meeting ended with reports they were finally ready to go.

Influence of legal sports betting

The consent order revealed that BetMGM was found to have been accepting bets as early as November 16—a full week before the market opened and six days before the company received its operator’s license. Offenses occurred via the BetMGM mobile app.

Bettors who were allowed to place wagers before November 23 were provided full refunds and issued $50 free bets to boot.

Maryland was one of several key dominos to fall in the nationwide battle for sports betting expansion. It now rounds out the DMV trio of sports betting markets and provides a home to sports bettors in Baltimore, the 30th-most-populous city in the country.

Maryland sports bettors accounted for $200 million in total wagers in November, thanks in part to the addition of the online market. That was a record monthly total for the state and is a sign of what is to come now that gamblers can submit bets through their phones.

The state’s successful push for legalization also added pressure to states debating similar matters. Texas, for example, has been encouraged to pursue legal sports betting, and lawmakers have cited positive impacts in other states that recently legalized their markets.

A former Texas Governor, Rick Perry, has also become an outspoken proponent of the legalization of sports betting despite showing opposition in the past.

Maryland has a chance to benefit greatly from the success of several local sports teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and the University of Maryland. The former is fifth in the AFC playoff picture at the time of writing and a real threat to make a run once 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson returns from injury, while UM’s men’s and women’s basketball teams are both strong contenders for the Big Ten titles.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.