You’ve heard of DraftKings. They along with FanDuel became the two largest Daily Fantasy Sports wagering sites in the U.S. in the 2010s. When a Supreme Court decision at the federal level began to open up state-by-state decisions on legal sports betting, they jumped right into the sportsbook business in states where it became authorized. That included Michigan earlier this year.
Almost every state in the nation minus Utah and Hawaii have either legalized sports betting, are about to legalize sports betting, or are “exploring” their options to legalize sports betting. Every governor and statehouse knows it’s always taking place, so they’re apt to want in on the tax revenue generated from the betting. Keep Florida sports betting money in Florida. And so on.
But legalized sports betting doesn’t mean there won’t be glitches. In February, a Michigan man named Ryan Cristman bet with DraftKings, the NHL Bruins + 3 goals. Meaning, the Bruins would have to lose by more than 3 goals for him to lose his $915 bet, or by 3 for a push. The Bruins ended up winning that games against the Rangers 3-2 that evening. Cristman was due over 5K in payout from that bet. But DraftKings did not oblige.
DraftKings insisted that the posted betting odds were incorrect due to an error or a glitch. The favored Bruins were supposed to be a -3 that night, not a +3. The online system showed the incorrect number. The line clearly seemed cockeyed to Ryan Cristman himself because he contact DraftKings to double check the +3 mark before placing his wager. Cristman claims the phone rep confirmed the +3. So he made the $915 bet.
Cristman contends that when he inquired about why his winning bet wasn’t paid, DraftKings informed him of the posting error, offered to refund his bet money, plus $50 in credits for his understanding. He called B.S. and claims DraftKings went into protect mode thereafter, with runarounds followed by silence. So he sued.
In his civil action, Cristman provides evidence of his bet and the response from DraftKings. His attorneys argue that not only was Cristman denied his winnings based on DraftKings deciding upon what the bet was supposed to be after the fact, but that there are many more bettors out there who’ve been stiffed similarly. He initiated a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all who’ve experienced similar experiences with DraftKings.
DraftKings remains silent on the matter. One might presume they will fight this to the bitter end, because losing the right to rectify posted line errors could mean huge losses for them if they accidentally post errant betting odds for any event and masses of bettors take advantage. On the other hand, plaintiffs attorneys will presumably argue, tough beans, you can’t unilaterally decide which bets to honor and which not to honor based on reason nobody outside your organization could verify.
In my very humble completely amateurish legal forecast: good luck Mr. Cristman. Without evidence that the +3 posting was more than normal course of business human or computer error, it feels like a huge uphill climb. Businesses that make earnest mistakes in newspaper ad discounts aren’t expected to be bankrupted because of ad copy errors.
We’ll wait to see if somebody investigating what the attorneys are claiming are numerous instances of similar circumstances and can piece together anything beyond a random data entry mistake by a DraftKings employee.