The Maryland State Board of Elections determined that the Sports Betting Alliance‘s record-keeping wasn’t fine. For that reason, the Alliance now faces an unprecedented fine.
After regulators went over the Alliance’s campaign financing records with a fine-tooth comb, they were unable to find mandatory disclosures from 2020. While the Sports Betting Alliance says everything is fine now, it’s still unclear what prompted the fine in the first place.
Maryland hands down a $48,000 fine to the Sports Betting Alliance
According to Bryan P. Sears of Maryland Matters, the State Board of Elections has set a new precedent for itself and that involves the Sports Betting Alliance. The Sports Betting Alliance is essentially the politically active arm of multiple online gambling companies like BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics, and FanDuel.
The Board found that the Sports Betting Alliance failed to disclose donations that occurred in 2020. In Maryland, donations of at least $10,000 to political campaigns must be reported to the Board within 48 hours. Violating that standard can carry a fine of $1,000 per day or 10% of the offending organization’s total expenditures.
The amount of the resulting fine was $48,000, a new record for Maryland in this context. That represented about 64% of the total fines the Board delved out for violations in both April and May.
Sears reports that a spokesperson for the Alliance says the fine resulted from a simple filing error. The spokesperson added that the Alliance has since corrected that mistake and its records are now in compliance.
However, the exact details of the discrepancy are still not a matter of public record according to Sears. That is curious given the fact that the entire point of campaign finance reporting is to ensure transparency.
Updated records are still missing
Sears states that details about what the Sports Betting Alliance failed to report and how much money went unreported in 2020 are still uncertain. What is clear, however, is that the missing filings pertained to the 2020 election in which Maryland voters authorized a constitutional amendment that legalized sports betting in the state.
Incoming Maryland Elections Administrator Jared DeMarinis stressed the importance of these disclosure standards to Sears. DeMarinis explained:
“They [groups like the Sports Betting Alliance] 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.”
Because of the lack of corrected records in the public sphere, it’s still uncertain exactly how the Sports Betting Alliance impacted the election that went in favor of its members. While it’s possible that could have had a small effect, the lack of data is the problem.
Circumstances in which organizations that violate disclosure laws simply have to pay a fine but do not publicly correct those errors are not correct.