BetMGM Fined For Allowing Bets On Restricted New Jersey College Basketball Games

New Jersey doesn’t mess around. And New Yorkers should pay attention.

According to documents released last week, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has fined BetMGM for accepting bets on NCAA basketball games it was not allowed to take under state law. When it legalized sports betting this year, New York established a similar law. 

The total that BetMGM took in for the illegal wagers? Less than $100. The fine? $25,000. 

BetMGM’s $25,000 Mistake

In New Jersey, it’s illegal to place bets on any games played by an in-state college team, and any college games played within the state, regardless of the team’s home location. Four other states prohibit sports betting on in-state teams: Washington, Virginia, South Dakota, and New York.

In theory, restrictions like this protect players, coaches, and individuals involved in college sports. By law, sportsbooks aren’t legally allowed to list restricted wagers, so bettors can’t make illegal bets.

The law in New Jersey isn’t going away soon, either. In November 2021, 57 percent of New Jersey voters opted to uphold this law. 

Why Did BetMGM Offer These Odds In New Jersey?

In early 2021, two illegal bets were listed on BetMGM’s sportsbook — both bets were up for less than 8 hours and were the result of technical or human error. BetMGM claimed that both issues stemmed from issues with its technology partner, Entain PLC. 

The first incident involved bets placed on March 10, 2021, for a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament game. The game, played between Marist College and Niagara University, was set to be played the following day in Atlantic City. 

The division says Entain failed to correctly flag the tournament game as being played in New Jersey. At the same time, an automated venue checking system that should have worked as a backup was offline. BetMGM noticed the error after just 40 minutes of the bet going live, removed it, and reimbursed the individuals who had placed bets.

The second was a parlay 10 days later involving the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The bet was only live for eight hours before BetMGM noticed the error. In that time, only two people wagered a total of $30 on the game. 

In this instance, the division says that an Entain employee based in Australia did not recognize Rutgers as a New Jersey team. 

How Do These Laws Affect March Madness For New York and New Jersey fans?

Since New York has a similar law, bettors in the state can’t bet on any in-state teams during the tournament. 

Fortunately, this won’t affect New York bettors at this point in the tournament. The only team from New York to make the field of 68, Colgate, was knocked out by No. 3 Wisconsin in the first round.

For New Jersey, though, fans of the Cinderella team St. Peter’s University will be restricted from betting on the team’s Sweet 16 game Friday against No. 3 Purdue.

Of course, New Jersey fans could always travel to nearby New York or Pennsylvania to legally place bets on the game.

AP Photo/Aaron Doster

About the Author

Hannah Vanbiber

Hannah Vanbiber is an LSU fan by birth, Cavaliers fan by marriage, and Mets fan by choice. She started her journalism career in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as a reporter covering local sports, entertainment, and business in the East Tennessee area. She was the leading editor for the launch of a new sports magazine brand by Chattanooga’s CityScope Magazine. Hannah moved to New York City in 2013 and started writing freelance for several clients including newspapers, magazines, and corporate brands. She also joined the nonprofit world and spent eight years working in fundraising, most recently as the Director of Volunteers at New York City’s oldest homeless services organization. She is now a full-time freelance writer, editor, and reporter, covering women’s sports and sports betting in the New York metropolitan area. Hannah lives in Manhattan with her husband, Ben Wagner, whose loyalty to LeBron James knows no bounds.

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