The Sports Betting Alliance was fined $48,000 by the Maryland State Board of Elections on Tuesday. The fine is the largest ever levied by the board, and it comes due to the SBA violating the state’s 48-hour disclosure requirement.
The SBA, a group composed of sportsbook operators BetMGM, DraftKings, Fanatics Sportsbook, and FanDuel, spent money during the 2020 campaign cycle, when Maryland voters approved legal sports betting in the state, but failed to quickly report that spending. The SBA provided funding to certain candidates during the election cycle, and those donations were properly disclosed via candidate committee reports, but it missed a double-filing requirement wherein it was also supposed to detail those expenditures for the Board of Elections.
“We’re cracking down hard on disclosure with independent expenditure entities and that was one the biggest ones that was collected so far,” Jared DeMarinis, the board’s director of candidacy and campaign finance, said at Tuesday’s meeting.
The SBA’s fine for the failure to report expenditures within 48 hours resulted in a $1,000 fine per day. All four of the sports betting operators included in the SBA are currently licensed in Maryland.
The reason for the penalty
Maryland’s governing bodies try to account for the potential of independent entities swinging results with significant spending late during an election cycle. As a result, those entities are required to disclose their expenditures to their keep potential influence transparent.
“If it’s not timely disclosed, then people wouldn’t have all the information when making decisions at the ballot box,” DeMarinis said. “That’s why the penalties are so large.”
The error was caused by a compliance mistake, SBA spokesperson Nathan Click told Sports Handle.
“This was simply a filing error by our compliance team,” Click said. “As soon as we realized the mistake, we immediately filed the missing form and worked with the Maryland State Board of Election to correct the error.”
The SBA did not appeal the $48,000 fine.
“They admit guilt that they were late,” DeMarinis said. “Usually they have a compliance firm that failed to do some sort of activity at that point, so I assume they’re going after the compliance firm for their failures.”
Maryland’s State Board of Elections issued 28 enforcement measures in April and May. No entity other than the SBA received a fine larger than $7,500.