You had to see it coming, the massive spike in volume, a lot of green employees. It was only a matter of time before a mess happened. And with the amount of combined human and computer interaction it was bound to result in somebody putting the books in a spot many offshore punters are familiar with. How books deal with a bad line.
Only a few weeks into the betting busy season with football and we already have our first payout dispute. We go to the Meadowlands where New Jersey bookmaker FanDuel has declined to pay out a $110 bet on the Broncos in-game to win at +75,000 odds, due to an error in the oddsmaking process. This bet was made with just over a minute to go and Denver well within range to kick the game winning Field Goal. The bet would have paid out $82,610 bucks. FanDuel offered the player $500 and a few pairs of Giants tickets for his "trouble". A FanDuel spokesperson said in a statement, "The wager in question involved an obvious pricing error inadvertently generated by our in-game pricing system." Nobody is debating that it was clearly a mistake/bad line posted but the debate boils down to old-school terms used by bookies and players back in the day.
You Book It, You Pay It
Many players in this industry swear by this and anything less is the book taking advantage of the players. From what I understand this is also the practice in Las Vegas where they will pay the bet even if the punter takes it at a mispriced line but they will usually ban the player from the establishment going forward. This is easy to say where you are paying out a couple hundred bucks or even a few grand but over $82k is a lot of money. The books argue it is clearly in their terms of service that bad lines void the wager.
They are correct that their terms of service clearly outline this practice. But the bigger question is what does New Jersey's state regulators say about this occurrence. We should find out soon enough as it appears a probe has been opened to look into the case.
How It's Handled Elsewhere
From what I understand and have seen over the years the offshore shops and the European market act in much the same way as these types of bets are voided without question. Now I have seen plenty of complaints online over the years where a player claims his winning bet was voided due to being a bad line but have rarely seen the bettor come in and say his losing ticket was refunded due to a bad line. Obviously, people are going to feel more cheated if they win and its voided so will clearly be more motivated to voice their feelings when they are upset. Basically, I'm not saying it does not happen where bad line bet is refunded I just have not seen it very often in my years covering this industry.
This brings up the argument of many of the book it/pay it, crowd, in that they see this as a book taking a freeroll at a player. They keep the money if you lose and void it if you win. It's a sort of punishment for the shot taker trying to pick a bad line and take advantage of the book's error.
Is The Blame Solely On The Book?
In my opinion no. This player here betting in-game is probably an experienced punter as bettors playing in-game wagers tend to have a decent grasp on things. This guy clearly knew what he was doing and is what the industry labels as shot takers. Shot takers purposefully hit bad lines in the hope the books will pay them out. I personally dislike shot takers as they ruin it for those few who truly make mistakes. They also give a push to the books who don't want to pay their mistakes citing these types of players are looking to cheat the system as opposed to actually wagering. Regardless of your outlook on this topic shot takers are bad for the industry as a whole.
So What Happens?
As of this writing, FanDuel has refused to pay the wager and the guy refused their courtesy gesture. He has claimed to be getting a lawyer and looks like state regulators are looking into the case. It's really anyone's guess at this point but a major precedence is going to be set early on in New Jersey's sports betting market.
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