FanDuel Must Pay Up In New Jersey After Soccer Odds Snafu

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement ruled on Thursday that 10 mobile sports betting customers and one retail bettor should receive their winnings from bets made with FanDuel Sportsbook on soccer games that offered unrealistically easy odds.

A FanDuel spokesman blamed the mixup on “a new bet type that was installed by a vendor that incorrectly resulted in erroneous lines being made available to customers.”

The sports betting operator made the announcement about the DGE’s ruling.

“FanDuel Sportsbook appreciates the DGE looking into this matter on our behalf,” the company said in a statement. “We regret that this error happened, believe it is important for our customers to know that there is a review process for these issues, and thank the DGE for their collaboration.

“Customers impacted will receive their winnings in their online accounts immediately, and our retail customer has been contacted to come to the Meadowlands to receive his winnings.”

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The wagers all took place in a four-day period in mid-July in New Jersey and Indiana and involved games in Major League Soccer in the U.S. as well as in Europe in the Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A.

With multiple-bet parlays, the tens of thousands of dollars risked provided payouts estimated at more than $200,000.

ESPN.com identified the brick-and-mortar customer as Daniel Leavey, 29, from Long Island. Leavey said he and his father visited the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack, which reopened last month without seating or food and beverage service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One line on the odds board leaped out for Leavey: FC Cincinnati +5 goals against Atlanta United at a price of -134. Leavey said he made a pair of bets totaling $10,000 on Cincinnati at that absurd figure.

Indiana soccer bettor not so lucky (yet)

FanDuel also operates a sportsbook at Blue Chip Casino in Indiana, which has its own state gambling regulations. A bettor there reportedly made parlay wagers at a self-betting kiosk based on the same “plus five goals” error that should have produced winnings of roughly $60,00.

But that bettor was told by FanDuel that the bets had been canceled because of the errant odds. The Indiana Gaming Commission permits sportsbook operators to cancel any bets “in the event of obvious error, at the certificate holder’s or vendor’s discretion.”

A gaming official in that state said that the issue had been sent to the commission’s “compliance committee” for further review.

Will the action by New Jersey — considered a highly respected gaming regulation authority in the U.S. — produce a different result for that bettor?

More too-good-to-be-true odds

The decision by the DGE mirrors one that it made when FanDuel made a comparable error in September 2018.

A Newark man seemed to have won $82,000 on a $110 bet with about a minute left on the Denver Broncos to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos trailed at the time, 19-17, but a key play suddenly moved them into field-goal range, and FanDuel’s “in-play” betting odds didn’t adjust appropriately to the new field position.

After FanDuel initially balked at paying, a barrage of bad publicity seemed to produce a change of heart in favor of the handful of bettors who noticed the erroneous odds.

“For 18 seconds, bettors were offered odds paying out 750/1 on the Denver Broncos converting a 36-yard field goal,” FanDuel said in a statement. “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.

“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.”

NJ regulators lays out the rules

At a major gaming industry event in Las Vegas the following month, state Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck underscored his agency’s philosophy on “bad lines.”

Rebuck called the incident “a bad hiccup for the state of New Jersey.”

“We had a very heart-to-heart discussion with FanDuel/Paddy Power/Betfair representatives that maybe we made a mistake,” Rebuck said in response to a query by NJ Online Gambling. “Maybe we approved internal controls, safeguards, to prevent this from happening that were not strong enough. After further heart-to-heart discussions on actions to be taken both with regard to the event itself and future actions, we came to a strong consensus. All patrons were paid in full.

“We are partners with [FanDuel] in many ways, and maybe it was our fault that it happened. So I will take responsibility, as head of the division, that this should never happen.”

Rebuck added that there would be no such future confusion — foreshadowing Thursday’s ruling.

“One thing we did do is we ended forever the European understanding that we have this ‘safe haven’ for mistakes they make,” Rebuck said. “In the U.S., our laws are different. We offer protections that are stronger for customers and consumers. There is no safe haven for companies that make mistakes, whether negligence or gross negligence — and there [are]consequences to that.

“So you’d better be better at what you’re doing, re-look at your internal controls, reduce your risk. And consider what your standards are for how are you going to keep this under control, so you don’t end up having a 750/1 wager on something that was an 18-second error that your supervisor failed to catch.”

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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