Surprise! FanDuel Sportsbook Will Pay Off that Disputed Bet After All

Posted on September 21, 2018

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In a stunning change of heart, sportsbook operator FanDuel announced on Sept. 20 that it will honor the outsized payout on a disputed betting ticket. The sports betting company will pay Anthony Prince $82,610 for his $110 ticket.

The controversy arose during the NFL game between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders. Prince wagered $110 during the closing moments that Denver would successfully kick a field goal to complete its comeback attempt.

Due to an 18-second computer glitch discovered after the game, Prince’s ticket displayed his odds of winning at an astronomical 750/1. When the Broncos won the game minutes later, the odds dictated that Prince was due for a five-digit payout. FanDuel thought otherwise and refused to pay out the incorrect price.

FanDuel finally made it right

After three days of intense pressure in the public eye, FanDuel finally elected to pay off Prince and the 11 other customers whose tickets rang up at the inflated odds. In a statement, the sports betting giant explained the situation:

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.

The statement went on to offer a special promotion as a way of apologizing. FanDuel will award 82 random customers $1,000 each, in commemoration of the fateful amount.

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FanDuel didn’t handle this very well

So, all’s well that ends well. The 12 bettors will get their payout, and 82 others will find themselves $1,000 richer.

However, FanDuel could have avoided the entire situation. Instead, the company chose to stick to its guns about a computer glitch, attracted a media firestorm, and is now the subject of a gaming commission investigation.

Consider the situation:

The displayed odds were erroneous, but FanDuel personnel released the ticket to Prince without argument. At that point, the bet became live and valid. If that’s unclear, imagine that the Broncos failed to win the game – is there any doubt that FanDuel would have kept Prince’s $110?

So, presuming that FanDuel verified the ticket wasn’t a forgery of some kind and that Prince actually bought it, the appropriate reaction would’ve been to pay off the bet(s). Then, FanDuel could’ve investigated the matter internally and without any public hiccups.

Instead, FanDuel’s immediate reaction to Prince’s claim was not to honor his ticket or any of the others. FanDuel personnel simply dismissed the ticket as a glitch and attempted to console him with cash and football tickets.

Everyone has a voice in America now

Prince declined the offer. Instead, he took his case to the media, and the result was predictable.

News outlets across the country ran stories about the guy FanDuel wouldn’t pay. Social media sites slammed the www.playusa.com/nj/sports-betting for its refusal. The New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement announced that it would investigate the incident.

In the era of social media and a 24-hour news cycle, companies cannot continue to assume that a customer beef will stay quiet. It took Prince less than 12 hours to be heard.

And yet, it seems like FanDuel still doesn’t get it, even after the fact. Here’s what COO Kip Levin told the Associated Press:

“(The company wants) to use this as a learning experience for our new customers about how sports betting works.”

Quite frankly, FanDuel personnel are the ones who need to learn from this.

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Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley is a writer and poker player from Houston, Texas. Bart writes about the NJ online casino industry and US online poker. He has a master's degree in business administration from Texas Christian University and a degree in English from Texas A&M.

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