BetMGM Battles Hacks, Fines for Premature Maryland Launch

BetMGM has had its share of problems in 2022. Maryland fined the company for its premature launch of a sportsbook. A hack of customer data has also sent BetMGM scrambling for damage control.

In football, a false start is when someone on the offensive line jumps past the line of scrimmage too soon. The result is a 5-yard penalty.

The false start committed by BetMGM digital sportsbook in November carried a penalty of $145,000 for taking bets online before the official opening by the state.

The Maryland sports betting market conducted a soft launch for online operators on November 21, the day they were permitted to. But BetMGM took wagers November 16, according to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission. Hence the largest fine in the agency’s history. The prior record fine was $5,000, said commission spokesman Seth Elkin.

The sportsbook remained open for three hours, during which 140 mobile bets were placed.

“At the time, we were going through the checks for our controlled demo that would start next week,” Roman Rubas, director of technical governance told Legal Sports Report. “One of those links got redirected in production, instead of being brought back to the splash page that said ‘it’s showtime, you’ll be able to wager soon,’ they were actually redirected to the sportsbook.”

The incident taught BetMGM a lesson, said Compliance Officer Rhea Loney. The company has made the adjustments needed to avoid a repeat performance in Maryland or elsewhere.

Still not every commissioner was satisfied.

This is “no more powerful than a slap on the hand,” said Commissioner Harold Hodges, who called on the commission to reform its policies as more operators run into technical issues. Hodges voted no to the settlement.

In other problems for the sportsbook, BetMGM acknowledged on December 21 that certain patron records got into the wrong hands. The breach affected personal information including “name, contact information (such as postal address, email address and telephone number), date of birth, Social Security number, player ID and screen name and information related to transactions with BetMGM,” a press release said. How much information varied from customer to customer.

The issue took place in May, but BetMGM learned of the problem on November 28, and launched an investigation. The company has worked with security experts to determine the scope. BetMGM has no evidence that patron passwords or account funds were accessed. Online operations were not compromised. The company is coordinating with law enforcement and taking steps to further enhance its security.

“We are taking this matter very seriously and are working quickly to investigate it. The security of our platform and our patrons’ data is a top priority for BetMGM. We regret any inconvenience this may cause,” said Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM.

BetMGM recommends patrons become vigilant for any suspicious activity or unsolicited communications regarding their personal information. The company has arranged to offer affected patrons credit monitoring and identity restoration services for two years at no cost to them.