The Week In Sports Betting: FanDuel Sportsbook Glitch Nearly Causes Apocalypse

Written By Eric Ramsey on September 21, 2018
Las Vegas sportsbook

Happy Friday! And not just any Friday, mind you. It’s the Friday before another holiday weekend — if you count football as a holiday, of course. Or, I guess maybe some folks get Monday off to observe National Punctuation Day (cc: boss)?

Whatever, the weekend is here, and nobody is more relieved about it than FanDuel. The company had a whale of a week, enduring a 48-hour stretch alone in the harsh spotlight.

We’ll start our Friday recap with a look at New Jersey sports betting as we often do, but we’ll go straight to FanDuel Sportsbook at The Meadowlands this time.

FanDuel Sportsbook makes national headlines

Hey, great news for FanDuel Sportsbook this week! It was the center of attention across both industry and mainstream headlines alike, even earning some primetime TV coverage from ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt.

You’ve probably heard the reason by now, though, so you know it wasn’t exactly the SportsCenter segment FanDuel envisioned.

A systems malfunction generated a drastic pricing mistake during an 18-second window in a Sunday afternoon NFL game, spawning a dozen errant tickets totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars — about as much as Drake lost during his weekend in Atlantic City.

FanDuel initially offered to settle at the intended odds, but a tsunami of criticism forced a reconsideration. Following a tweet from Denver kicker Brandon McManus, the company announced it would pay the obviously glitched tickets in full.

The gaffe is a medium-sized one in the grand scheme of things, and reactions ranged from ‘Why are we even talking about this non-issue?” to “The entire world is ending.”

Regardless of where you stand, an error of this magnitude should not happen. It likely will happen again, though, and this PR-driven solution doesn’t necessarily establish a precedent for next time. In fact, we still have a lot of the same questions we had before FanDuel yielded to the pressure.

News from other states … and districts

We’ve had to expand this subheading from NFOS to NFOSAD for the week. The District of Columbia is suddenly interested in joining the party.

  • D.C.: Councilman Jack Evans says he plans to introduce a bill to legalize DC sports betting under the oversight of the lottery. A previous effort to do so in the late 1980’s never moved forward, but we’re in a brave new world in 2018.
  • West Virginia: The WV sports betting industry is off to a good start, it seems, but something strange is afoot. A growing rift between lawmakers, the lottery, and the governor — and some apparent meddling from the leagues — threatens to stifle progress.
  • Mississippi: Regulators released the numbers for the first month of Mississippi sports betting. Commercial casinos reported more than $6 million in wagers and close to $650,000 in revenue in August, not bad. The Choctaw nation, which also offers sports betting in the state, announced a new deal with IGT this week.

If you want a sense of where the five states with legal sports betting stack up against each other, the PlayUSA power panel released its first Sports Betting Power Rankings this week.

Congress ready to talk it out?

Well, would you look at that: D.C. appears in another section, two being a new all-time record for the mighty District. Our representatives in Congress say they’re ready to conduct their own hearing on sports betting next week.

The roster isn’t published yet, but a source says the NFL is likely to testify. The American Gaming Association (definitely) and Las Vegas Sands (probably) will send representatives, too. It’s not clear if Sen. Orrin Hatch or Sen. Chuck Schumer are attending, but you’d expect to see appearances from the two men spearheading the federal effort.

The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigation will conduct the hearing on Sept. 27.

Takes and tidbits

Considering how much attention that FanDuel hiccup attracted and the buzz surrounding NFL betting in general, the week was actually rather tame. Here are a few crumbs of news still clinging to the bottom of the page this week.

  • 5-minute major, cross-promoting: The Vegas Golden Knights and William Hill announced they’re partnering up. The alliance between a team and a dedicated sports betting company is the first of its kind for any US league, let alone the timid NHL. Again, a brave new world.
  • Oh, Canada: Tribal group Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (& Eventually Sports Betting) is exploring more opportunities beyond its territory. In addition to a new property in Korea, Mohegan has agreed to take over operations of Casino Niagara and Fallsview near the NY/Canada border.

Let’s see, what else … no new sportsbooks in New Jersey this week … certainly no new states with sports betting…

Oh! A Nevada bettor did hit a $5 NFL parlay for like $85,000that was pretty cool.

And that WV situation is pretty kooky, but Wheeling Island unveiled its new sports bar this week. The property is already approved for sports betting, but it says it’s not quite ready to open the windows just yet.

I mean, this doesn’t really relate to sports betting, but a Pittsburgh woman is suing Rivers Casino for using surveillance to snoop on her cell phone at the behest of her ex-husband. That’s seems like a thing you’d want to read.

That’s it, honestly. You officially know as much as we know about what happened over the last five days. Enjoy your weekend, ladies and gents, and those observing more traditional holidays this time of year.

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Eric Ramsey

Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.

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