Nevada Gaming Control has ruled in favor of the BetMGM sportsbook in a controversy stemming from dozens of parlay wagers from June that were centered on baseball games that had already started, multiple sources told ESPN.
The decision will allow BetMGM to void more than $200,000 in outstanding parlay bets that were placed by a group of bettors in the early-morning hours between 1:30-3:30 a.m. PT on June 28 on the self-serve kiosks at Bellagio in Las Vegas and on the sportsbook's mobile betting app. The parlays included KBO League and Chinese Professional Baseball League games that had already started, but were left available for betting because of a bookmaker's error, according to ROAR Digital, the company that operates BetMGM sports betting.
Approximately 50 parlays were placed after the games started, sources told ESPN, including a 10-leg parlay that would've paid $137,107.38 and was promoted on social media by BetMGM, before eventually being deleted. Some bettors were able to cash tickets before the sportsbook realized the error and could stop payments. All the outstanding bets will be rescinded.
An MGM spokesperson on Wednesday confirmed to ESPN that they had received approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board and will rescind and refund the wagers in question. A spokesperson for Nevada Gaming Control said they have no comment.
At least two of the bettors believed to be involved confirmed to ESPN that the bets are being rescinded.
Neither BetMGM's house rules in Nevada or NGC regulations include language explicitly addressing bets placed on events that have already started, which is commonly referred to as "past-posting" in the sports betting and horse racing communities. NGC regulations prohibit sportsbooks from unilaterally rescinding wagers without written approval from gaming control.
Traditionally, situations involving past-posting for modest amounts were settled amicably, with sportsbooks offering to pay the bet but refusing to take further action from the customer, or refunding the bet and continuing to allow the bettor to play. But veteran Las Vegas bookmakers have struggled to recall a past-posting situation involving sums as large as the one at Bellagio.
"That is not a rule. That is not a regulation," Mac VerStandig, a prominent Las Vegas-based gaming attorney, told ESPN. "That is not something that is printed on the wall at any of the sportsbooks."
Betting on Korean baseball increased in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic with most major U.S. sports halted. The games air mostly overnight in the U.S. All four of the Korean baseball games that were included in the parlay tickets began at 1 a.m. and ended before 4 a.m. PT.
Many of the parlays included the NC Dinos to beat the Doosan Bears in a game that stayed under the over/under total nine runs. The Dinos broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning with a three-run homer at 2:28 a.m. PT and ultimately won 5-0.
"This is sort of the perfect storm [for the sportsbook], where you have reduced staffing because of the pandemic," said VerStandig, who has handled previous issues involving past-posting. "You have international events that are being wagered upon heavily because of the pandemic, and the large potential payouts of the parlays are not raising suspicions because there's absence of domestic action.
"With the four major American sports on hiatus, a gambler has to gamble. It's the thing out there. ESPN is televising it. So, it does seem like the perfect storm."
ESPN's Doug Kezirian contributed to this story.