Editor’s note: This article was published before FanDuel Sportsbook elected to pay out the winning ticket in the full amount.
Anthony Prince appeared to possess the ticket of a lifetime.
With just over a minute left in an AFC West showdown against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon, the Denver Broncos trailed by two points. They had possession. They began driving. Prince decided he wanted to put money down on Denver to complete the comeback.
The New Jersey resident headed to the counter of FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands Racetrack and, in an interview with News12, said he put $110 on the Broncos with around 1:10 left in the game. At the time, Denver was at its own 45-yard line. NumberFire, a sports data company owned by FanDuel, pegged the Broncos at 38.96 percent chance to win.
The Broncos continued to march down the field, and with 6 seconds left, Denver kicker Brandon McManus drilled a 36-yard field goal just inside the right upright to seal the Broncos victory. And, in theory, hand Prince a sizable payday.
The winning ticket
See, when Prince made his bet at the window, he was handed a FanDuel Sportsbook ticket that listed the Broncos as a 750/1 longshot to win. With a Denver victory, Prince was lined up to rake in $82,610 on his $110 bet. The problem: When Prince went to claim his winnings, FanDuel refused to pay him, allegedly telling Prince that the bet was void because of a glitch in their system. And Prince, understandably, is pissed.
The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) said Tuesday afternoon that the matter is under investigation. FanDuel issued the following statement Tuesday evening:
“The wager in question involved an obvious pricing error inadvertently generated by our in-game pricing system. Specifically, near the end of the Sunday afternoon game between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders, the odds for the Broncos (who had the ball and were trailing by two points at the time) to win were +340 (bet $100 to win $340). The next play, the Broncos completed a 26 yard pass to position themselves to attempt a 36 yard field goal to take the lead in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, clearly positioning the Broncos as the favorite to win. At that moment in the game, our system updated the odds and erroneously posted a price of +75,000 on the Broncos to win the game (bet $100 to win $75,000) when the correct odds for the Broncos to win the game at that point in time were -600 (i.e., bet $600 to win $100). A small number of bets were made at the erroneous price over an 18 second period. 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.”
Putting aside the narrative about the bookmaker being in the wrong or about how it should settle a bet regardless if an alleged “glitch” occurred to create an incorrect line. For now, this space is dedicated to educating the bettor. Because, like it or not, when you place a bet, there is a contract that is agreed upon between bettor and bookmaker.
First and foremost: Each sportsbook in New Jersey (and, really, in any book in any state with regulated sports betting), is required to have “house rules” that, per the DGE, “shall be conspicuously displayed in the sports wagering lounge, posted on the operator’s Internet website, and included in the terms and conditions of the account wagering system, and copies shall be made readily available to patrons.”
Basically, these rules are everywhere. Within them, and, again, required by the DGE, are a number of items. For FanDuel Sportsbook, House Rule No. 6 is telling:
“Patrons should verify that all information on wagering tickets is accurate before leaving the betting window. Management is not responsible for errors or omissions made on a ticket once the patron has left the betting window.”
Sure, seems like a scapegoat. But 750/1 odds for a two-point game in which the underdog has possession and is driving with over a minute to go? Seems too good to be true. Which means it probably is.
And just so we’re clear: this does not absolve the sportsbook for handing Prince the ticket with those odds. After all, the algorithm determining the odds has to “glitch” and the ticket writer has to print off the wager.
Terms and conditions
As required by the DGE, FanDuel Sportsbook also features under its T&Cs for online wagers a section titled “Errors & Suspected Errors” that should draw the attention of future bettors.
After ensuring that the book “makes every effort” to avoid any errors (human and tech), the section indicates that they do occur. So the sportsbook set up a safety net of sorts:
- “FanDuel Sportsbook reserves the right to correct any obvious errors and to void any bets placed where such errors have occurred.”
Basically a “whoops, yeah that should not have happened, so, no, we won’t pay.” Shady? Maybe. But it happens. It has happened.
Across the pond, this provision has been a mainstay in the UK sports betting industry. Wagers are voided legally as determined by gaming regulations. It’s no different than what happens in Nevada.
Not all is lost for bettors. Per the FanDuel Sportsbook terms and conditions, if “any blatant errors in prices transmitted (including for example where the price being displayed is materially different from those available in the general market and/or the price is clearly incorrect, depending on all of the circumstances), bets will be settled at the correct price at the time of acceptance. … If a bet is accepted by us on an event where offering a price on the event itself (rather than the price) was in error, the bet will be void and your stake will be returned.”
(Fun fact: Apparently FanDuel Sportsbook did offer Prince a consolation prize. The Newark man said an employee offered him $500 and skybox seats to three New York Giants games, but Prince refused.)
Just to be clear…
In general, Prince’s tale of woe and justice-seeking provides a lesson for future customers. There is a contract agreed upon by bookmaker and bettor. And all of them, including FanDuel Sportsbook, end their terms and conditions (the contract) the same way:
“By using our Services, you understand that we reserve the right to change or remove any of these Services at any time.”