After consultations with state gambling regulators, sports betting company FanDuel has agreed to pay out a disputed $82,000 won by a local New Jersey man after he placed a disputed $110 at wildly inflated odds.
A number of other gamblers who also placed bets at the inflated odds, caused by a computer error, will also be paid out in full according to FanDuel.
Anthony Prince of Newark, New Jersey will receive the full amount of his winnings after placing a bet at 750-1 odds on the Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders game on Sunday. The extraordinarily long odds were the result of a computer glitch in FanDuel’s automated betting system at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey.
Initially the company refused to pay out, stating that it is not liable for paying out wins that are the result of an obvious system error. Instead it offered Mr. Prince $500 and 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 as reported by BusinessInsider. 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 $500 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?’”
“A small number of bets were made at the erroneous price over an 18-second period,” FanDuel told BusinessInsider. “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 apologized for the error.”
After speaking with the state’s gambling regulator, charged with overseeing the state’s fledgling sports betting market as well as land-based and online casino gambling activities, FanDuel reversed its position.
“Above all else, sports betting is supposed to be fun. As a result of a pricing error this weekend, it wasn’t for some of our customers. For eighteen seconds, bettors were offered odds paying out 750-1 on the Denver Broncos converting a 36 yard field goal. A 36 yard field goal has approximately an 85% chance of success, so the astronomical odds offered on something highly likely to occur was very obviously a pricing error. These kinds of issues are rare, but they do happen. We have clear house rules about how such obvious pricing errors are treated, which is to pay winners at the correct price,” FanDuel said in a statement.
A new industry
As a general rule, most sports books consider odds mistakes “palpable errors” known as “palps” and void the bet as a result.
But with legal sports betting a novelty in New Jersey, the result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in the case of Christi v. NCAA earlier this year, a case brought by the state of New Jersey as it sought to legalize sports betting, pressures to paint the new industry with a rosy face may well have forced FanDuel’s hand.
Mr. Prince purchased his ticket at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey with just about one minute left in the game. At the time, the Broncos were trailing Oakland by two points and in possession of the ball on their final drive. The Broncos ended up kicking a field goal from 36 yards out with six seconds left on the clock to pull ahead for a 20-19 win.
FanDuel’s statement went on to explain that its system should have calculated the odds at 1-6, in which to win $100 the punter would have had to put down $600 as the odds of making a field goal at that range are approximately 85%.
One on the house
FanDuel went on to say, “For those familiar with the industry these rules are understood, but we realize a lot of our customers are new to sports betting and were not familiar. We want FanDuel to be a sportsbook for all bettors, and we want sports betting to be fun. So, this one’s on the house. We are paying out these erroneous tickets and wish the lucky customers well. Going forward, we are working with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to improve our processes and procedures. We will also work with others in the industry on educating bettors on these and similar instances and how they work.”
A spokesman for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Kerry Langan said his agency was “encouraged by FanDuel’s actions today. The division will continue to work with FanDuel and the state’s other licensed sports wagering operators to ensure the implementation of industry-wide best practices.”
FanDuel’s chief operating officer, Kip Levin said that the company is keen to use this experience as a way to educate punters about sports betting. A total of 12 customers held tickets at the astronomical odds and Levin said they would all be paid in full, while declining to disclose the total amount.
In a further attempt to cast the fledgling industry in a good light, FanDuel has also said it will give away another $82,000 this coming weekend, awarding 82 customers chosen at random a payout of $1,000 each.
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