Prominent daily fantasy sports operator FanDuel has expanded its portfolio recently to include regular sports betting in the New Jersey licensed market. However, this new sportsbook product has suffered a public relations setback because the company failed to honor bets made on the Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos matchup on Sunday, Sept. 16.
With just over a minute left to go in the game on Sunday, the Denver Broncos were trailing 19 - 17, but they had possession of the ball. FanDuel updated the odds for its Live betting offering, which allows customers to make wagers while a contest is already underway.
The line provided by FanDuel at this point on the Broncos to win was +75,000 (750 - 1), meaning that for every $100 bet, the potential payout was $75,000. Several bettors took advantage of this opportunity and placed their wagers.
The Broncos made a field goal with just a few seconds left on the clock, and they won the game 20-19. Excited winners started planning how they were going to spend their windfalls, but their celebrations were cut short: FanDuel didn't honor their bets.
FanDuel operates a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., as well as a mobile sports-betting app. Customers of both betting options reported having their betslips canceled.
One individual, who placed his wager in person at The Meadowlands, was looking forward to collecting an $82,500 payment for his $110 bet. However, the clerk at the FanDuel betting window refused to give him the money, instead offering him $500 and tickets to several New York Giants games.
Users of the FanDuel mobile app seemed to have better luck as their winning betslips were graded and the funds placed into their accounts. However, their elation was short-lived as this money was removed shortly thereafter.
In the wake of the controversy stirred up by the company's actions, FanDuel released a statement explaining itself. The firm said that listing the odds as +75,000 for the Broncos to win was clearly a mistake. The line was supposed to be set at -600 (1 - 6).
The error was active in the sportsbook for 18 seconds, and “a small number of bets” were booked at the incorrect odds. FanDuel got in touch with these customers and apologized while settling their bets at the true -600 line.
FanDuel made reference to its house rules, claiming that they cover situations like these and protect it from having to pay in the case of obvious error. The company is telling the truth in this matter because its terms and conditions are clear:
This isn't just an example of FanDuel putting a we'll-do-whatever-we-want clause in its terms of service. Other bookmakers have similar provisions listed on their sites. For instance, we find the following on the websites of the sportsbooks contained in the Chico Poker Network (Sportsbetting.ag, BetOnline, and TigerGaming):
As can be imagined, the customers who saw their bets declared void were not exactly pleased. Several complaints were lodged with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which has commenced an investigation into the incident.
Even outside observers, who don't have any skin in the game, believed that this was a serious misstep by FanDuel. While many of them, particularly those who are experienced with betting, think it's standard for the book to cancel these wagers, others feel otherwise. Typical are the comments of Facebook user Tino Detres, posting about this story on the News 12 New Jersey website:
Following the bad press that it was getting for this snafu, the betting firm changed its mind. FanDuel has decided to honor all wagers booked at the mistaken price. In a statement posted Sept. 20, the company said:
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… 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.
In addition to making good on these improperly priced bets, FanDuel is adding $1,000 to the balances of 82 randomly picked account holders. The drawing will take place at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 23.
FanDuel opened up shop in 2009 and quickly became one of the biggest names in daily fantasy sports. Following the May Murphy v. NCAA Supreme Court case, which opened the door for state-licensed sports betting across the country, FanDuel was acquired by Paddy Power Betfair, a leading international betting house.
New Jersey was one of the first states to permit new sportsbooks to open up, and FanDuel jumped into action right away. It debuted a B&M sportsbook at The Meadowlands racetrack in July, and it added a mobile sportsbook product on Sept. 1. According to NJ regulations, only people who are physically located within state borders can place bets.
FanDuel isn't alone in the DFS industry as far as expanding into New Jersey goes. Its longtime rival DraftKings launched its own online sportsbook in the state in August. DraftKings suffered its own growing pains, however, as it was hit by a DDoS attack shortly after going live in the Garden State.
We applaud FanDuel's ultimate decision to fully pay the customers who had booked their bets at the mistaken odds. At the same time, we recognize that this was probably a one-off attempt to save face given the unusual amount of press coverage this story was afforded. In the future, we expect that this online bookmaker will adhere to its stated policies that allow it to revoke wagers that are recorded at obviously mistaken prices.
Although New Jersey now has regulated online sports betting, casino, and poker providers, you may still do better by opening an account at an offshore site. They allow you to expand your horizons and consider options that haven't obtained – and probably don't care about – the approval of officials in Trenton.
You're under no threat of legal prosecution as an individual player for betting at these sites. It is those offering the games that are taking all the risk.
For sportsbooks that serve Americans, check out our list of the best online sportsbooks in the U.S.A. For casino gaming, we have compiled a selection of the top U.S.A.-Friendly internet casinos. If cards are more your speed, then head over to our overview of the best online poker sites open to U.S. residents. We've also written a page containing specific information about online poker in New Jersey.