- A New Jersey bettor placed a $US110 wager at the FanDuel Sportsbook when they posted an incorrect line.
- The bet would have won $US82,000.
- FanDuel refused to honour the bet, saying the bad odds were due to a glitch and that they were not required to pay out the winnings on “obvious pricing errors.”
- Rules vary from book to book – some outlets offer similar policies to FanDuel’s argument, while other books operate with the understanding that “tickets go as written.”
- On Thursday, FanDuel announced that it had reversed course, and would honour the $US82,000 payout.
UPDATE: On Thursday, FanDuel announced that the company would honour Prince’s $US82,000 payout, as well as the payouts of other bettors that got a ticket at the erroneously inflated price.
“Above all else, sports betting is supposed to be fun,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “As a result of a pricing error this weekend, it wasn’t for some of our customers.”
EARLIER: After the Supreme Court’s decision to lift the federal ban on sports betting, states have been eager to get in on the action. But as one New Jersey gambler found out the hard way, some kinks are still being worked out.
According to News 12 New Jersey, Anthony Prince placed a $US110 in-game wager on the Denver Broncos on Sunday at the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack. At the time of his bet, the Broncos were down 19-17, but driving for the game-winning field goal.
As David Purdum wrote at ESPN, FanDuel had attempted to update the live odds to make the Broncos -600 favourites to win the game after moving into the red zone in the game’s final seconds, but due to an error in the live-odds feed, the Broncos posted as 750/1 underdogs instead.
Prince caught the line at the right moment, placing a $US110 bet that would have netted $US82,610. But after Denver sent the game-winning field goal through the uprights, Prince was informed that his wager would not be paid out. Instead, FanDuel offered him approximately $US500, along with tickets to three Giants games.
“They said their system had a glitch in it and they’re not obligated to pay for glitches,” Prince told News 12 New Jersey. Prince said that he planned on getting an attorney to help with the matter, and was not inclined to accept FanDuel’s offer of tickets and a $US500 payout. “The other guy said, ‘You should take what we give you because we don’t have to give you [anything] at all.’ I said, ‘Wow, for real?'”
FanDuel responded in a statement, saying it was well within its rights due to the glitch.
“A small number of bets were made at the erroneous price over an 18-second period,” FanDuel said. “We honored all such bets on the Broncos to win the game at the accurate market price in accordance with our house rules and industry practice, which specifically address such obvious pricing errors. We have reached out to all impacted customers and apologised for the error.”
Different sportsbooks handle situations like this differently. As Purdum notes, in the United Kingdom, mistakes in the odds are referred to as “palpable errors” or “palps” and usually result in the sportsbook voiding the bet.
In Las Vegas, things can work a bit differently. Jay Kornegay, VP of Race and Sports Operations at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, told Business Insider that at his property if a bettor has a ticket, the bet is live.
“In our world, our policy is ‘tickets go as written.'” Kornegay told Business Insider. “And that goes both ways. We’ve made errors – we make thousands of updates and changes every single day, so there’s going to be errors made.”
“For example, a few years back we had LSU playing Northwestern State – not Northwestern. When you put a game into the computer, it’s automatically a pick’em until you put the line in. We accidentally turned the game on, and people were betting at pick’em. Before we caught it, we had a few thousand dollars on it.”
While that situation was a boon to those who were able to get their wager in before the Westgate realised its error – LSU won easily, 49-3 – Kornegay said that both bettors and bookmakers are obligated to honour all tickets
“It works both ways – when customers come up and say, ‘Hey I wanted the Broncos, I got the Raiders,’ – whatever it might be, tickets go as written. It’s unfortunate when these situations come up, but it’s impossible to avoid them. We reduce those situations as much as we can, but once that ticket is written, it’s live.”
For FanDuel, the company’s official rules state that when “a blatant or palpable error is made in offers made,” bets may be settled at the correct price at the time at which the bet was placed. That said, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement is investigating the situation, according to ESPN, and the current regulations in the state say “A wagering operator shall not unilaterally rescind any wager … without the prior approval of the Division.”
While no book likes to pay out $US82,000 on an error, the decision to void the bet has led some lousy PR for FanDuel. Had FanDuel elected to pay, it’s likely that the company would have received a string of good press, with more potential sports bettors encouraged that FanDuel would honour all bets.
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