HomeMaryland Sports Betting NewsMaryland Hits Sports Betting Alliance With $48,000 Fine

Maryland Hits Sports Betting Alliance With $48,000 Fine

The Maryland State Board of Elections has fined the Sports Betting Alliance, a leading sportsbook trade group, $48,000 for failing to file financial reports related to its activities during the referendum on sports betting in Maryland in 2020.

Image: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The alliance represents major national sportsbooks such as BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fanatics and had urged voters to support the legalization of sports betting.

An SBA spokesperson said that the organization’s failure to file the required report was due to a filing error by its compliance team. The group then worked with the elections board to resolve the issue.

Yet, the fine didn’t come as a surprise, as it was not the first instance that New Jersey gaming officials encountered issues with the online gambling industry. In early June, state officials discovered that over 800,000 license plates in Maryland had a link to an online casino website.

Largest Electoral Fine in Maryland’s History

Maryland residents voted in favor of allowing sports betting by a margin of 67 percent in a 2020 referendum. The details of the bill, which became House Bill 940, were finalized by the legislature in April 2021. It was then passed by both chambers and signed by the governor.

In Maryland, political expenditures exceeding $10,000 must be reported to the state’s regulators. Failure to comply could lead to a daily $1,000 fine.

The exact amount spent by the SBA on the campaign for the legalization of sports betting in Maryland was not disclosed by the elections board. But several reports revealed that the group used television, radio, and online advertisements.

Some of the politicians who supported the legislation contributed to the campaign. The total amount spent by the group was estimated to be less than $480,000. This penalty marks the largest fine ever imposed in Maryland’s electoral history.

Enforcement Actions Against Violations

Although the SBA was the main target of the audit, other businesses were also penalized by the elections board. A total of 28 entities faced a combined $74,900 in fines. Around 90 percent of the penalties were issued for failing to report expenditures.

The elections board penalized an independent political organization called United Political Fund Issues with a $5,500 fine. The political action committee of Motorola Solutions was also fined $7,500 for failing to file required reports. The group had contributed over $12,000 to eight different candidates.

Jared DeMarinis, the director of candidacy and campaign finance at the New Jersey State Board of Elections, said that they are implementing strict measures to enforce disclosure requirements for independent expenditure entities. He also mentioned that the disclosures obtained thus far had been “the biggest ones.”

“We’re cracking down hard on disclosure with independent expenditure entities.”
Jared DeMarinis

DeMarinis underscored the significance of prompt financial disclosures for the public interest. He also highlighted the need for punctual declarations of financial support by those entities.

“They usually come in the last possible second and do some political ads or disseminate campaign material that could possibly affect the election,” DeMarinis said. “You need to have very timely disclosure to ensure that individuals are making informed choices at the ballot box.”