Maryland State Board of Elections Fine SBA $48,000

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The Sports Betting Alliance (SBA), an organization that represents sportsbooks operating legally in the US, has been issued a $48,000 fine by the Maryland State Board of Elections.

In 2020, the SPA was leading the campaign to legalize sports betting in the state. The question was put to voters, and the SBA was involved in both persuading lawmakers and running adverts across radio, television and social media. It was a success, with 67% of voters supporting gambling on professional and college sports.

It took the state lawmakers a little while to agree on legislation; however, a sports betting bill was passed in April 2021, and it was signed into law the next month.

The Maryland State Board of Elections is responsible for putting together campaign finance reports for political committees and making the summaries publically available. It recently completed a four-year audit that included the 2020 election cycle. During the audit, it was discovered that the SBA failed to disclose its fundraising and associated activities fast enough.

A spokesperson for the SBA explained that it “was simply a filing error by our compliance team” and said that as soon as the mistake was spotted, “we immediately filed the missing form and worked with the Maryland State Board of Elections to correct the error.”

However, the audit showed that the amended filing came 48 days late, and as such, the Maryland State Board of Elections has fined it $1,000 for each day, resulting in a $48,000 total.

Jared DeMarinis, the Maryland State Elections Board’s director of campaign finance, explained that as there is no fundraising limit for independent expenditure committees such as the SBA, they require filings to be completed quickly. This way, the public has time to understand where campaign money has come from before making their filing.

The whole point is that these penalties are here because of the impact independent expenditure committees have on the [election] process. They 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.

Jared DeMarinisMaryland State Elections Board Director of Campaign Finance

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