Following a crush of bad PR, FanDuel Sportsbook is paying up for a drastic pricing error during an NFL game Sunday afternoon.
Several bettors placed in-play bets on the Oakland–Denver game during an 18-second computer glitch, receiving tickets with printed payouts far larger than intended. The pricing error was at least the third hiccup at The Meadowlands since New Jersey sports betting began, and by far its biggest gaffe.
FanDuel initially offered to settle the errant tickets at what it deemed the correct odds before announcing Thursday it would pay the winners in full. The largest winning ticket will pay more than $82,000 on a $110 bet — a 750-to-1 payout.
A tidal wave of attention and phone calls with the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement likely played a role in the change of heart.
FanDuel Sportsbook makes it right
The decision arrived in a long statement from FanDuel Sportbook:
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.
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. Going forward, we are working with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to improve our processes and procedures. We will also work with others in the industry on educating bettors on these and similar instances and how they work.
We are committed to ensuring sports betting is reliable and fun for everyone, and we don’t want an eighteen second error to define anyone’s experience. So let’s have fun. This weekend, we’re giving away $82,000 to our customers, by adding $1,000 to the account of 82 lucky users…
It’s hard to say how much the mistake will cost the company in total, but the two tickets that have garnered the most attention add up to more than $130,000. Add the additional $82,000 mea culpa plus the tickets we don’t know about, and it’s no small chunk of change.
Pay that man his money
The story of Anthony Prince is the one that drew FanDuel Sportsbook into the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Prince placed an in-play wager during that 18-second window, and the ticket showed 750-to-1 odds on his $110 bet — a payout of $82,610.
When Denver won and Prince went to collect, FanDuel cited the malfunction and denied full payment. It was a clear pricing mistake, at least to those familiar with in-play betting. Those printed odds are not even in the same universe as the true odds in that situation, or really any situation.
More relevant is how the error happened, though, and how to prevent it from happening again. It’s not clear how the DGE would have handled potential discipline, or if that was on the table at all, but it was investigating.
The DGE seemed content with the resolution in a short statement to Legal Sports Report:
The Division 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.
FanDuel Sportsbook does have house rules in place to protect itself against precisely these sorts of problems, which it did follow. Knowing what it knows now, though, it probably wishes it had just done this on Sunday. It can afford the money, but customer confidence is worth its weight in gold in the booming New Jersey market right now.