ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Upon further review, a New Jersey man will get his full $82,000 payout on a disputed $110 sports bet. Several other gamblers who made similar bets at wildly inflated odds will also be paid in full, FanDuel said Thursday.
The online sports betting company said it will pay Anthony Prince of Newark the full 750-1 payout he was promised when the company’s automated system mistakenly generated long odds on the final moments of the Denver Broncos–Oakland Raiders game on Sunday.
The company initially refused to pay the bet placed at its sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack, saying it isn’t obligated to pay for obvious errors. But FanDuel reversed field after consulting with state gambling regulators.
“Above all else, sports betting is supposed to be fun,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “As a result of a pricing error this weekend, it wasn’t for some of our customers.”
Prince made his bet before a game-winning field goal by Denver’s Brandon McManus.
“A 36-yard field goal has approximately an 85 percent chance of success, so the astronomical odds offered on something highly likely to occur was very obviously a pricing error,” the company said. “These kinds of issues are rare, but they do happen. 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.”
Prince could not immediately be reached for comment.
In a tweet earlier Thursday before FanDuel’s decision was announced, McManus sided with Prince.
Pay The People!!! They put their hard earned money on me to win that game https://t.co/I7bJMj5ypd
— Brandon McManus (@thekidmcmanus) September 20, 2018
Prince was handed his 750-1 ticket with about a minute left in the game, as the Broncos trailed by two points on their final drive. Denver kicked a field goal with 6 seconds left to win 20-19, capping a second-half comeback that started with the Broncos down 12-0.
FanDuel says its system should have calculated his odds at 1-6, meaning a bettor would have to wager $600 in order to win $100. Prince bet $110 on the Broncos but was stopped when he went to collect from FanDuel’s betting window.
Kerry Langan, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, said the agency “is encouraged by FanDuel’s actions today. The division will continue to work with FanDuel and the state’s other licensed sports wagering operators to ensure the implementation of industry-wide best practices.”
Kip Levin, FanDuel’s chief operating officer, said the company wants “to use this as a learning experience for our new customers about how sports betting works.”
All told, 12 customers, including Prince, were given incorrect odds during an 18-second computer glitch. Levin would not say how much in total the company is paying, but said the promised payouts printed on the tickets or made online will be honored.
FanDuel also says it will give away another $82,000 this weekend by adding $1,000 apiece to the accounts of 82 randomly chosen customers.
The dispute is one of the earliest for the budding sports betting industry in New Jersey, coming at a time when new sportsbooks are opening in some other states and lawmakers throughout the country are considering whether to also jump in for the potential tax revenue. New Jersey challenged a federal ban and won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in May that cleared the way for gambling on games to expand beyond Nevada.
The idea that player money and winnings would be protected and regulated by the state has been a major selling point among sports betting supporters who contrasted legal gambling with shady offshore betting sites where players often have little recourse in disputes. But gambling regulators also have policies in place to void obvious errors in sports bets.
In Nevada, mistakes in the odds are not uncommon and can occur multiple times a month at sportsbooks. If a similar dispute happened in Nevada, the bookmaker would be required to contact the Gaming Control Board in order to investigate the matter.
Some Nevada books have paid off bets that were placed on bad odds, but then refused to take action from the bettors who took advantage of the mistakes in the future.
In the United Kingdom, where FanDuel owner Paddy Power Betfair has operated for decades, mistakes in the odds are called palpable errors or “palps” and generally result in voiding the bet.
Information from ESPN’s David Purdum and The Associated Press was used in this report.