DraftKings is catching a bit of flak for the way their Sports Betting National Championship ended on January 13. Rufus Peabody, who goes by the username Opti5624, was in the lead after Day 3, but could not make a bet on the final game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints, and lost out to rleejr86.
The $1 million first prize slipped away from Peabody in the most frustrating fashion. He placed a winning, all-in bet on the New England Patriots to cover against the Los Angeles Chargers. Despite winning that wager, the game ended at 4:37 p.m. ET. The Saints game started just four minutes later, and Peabody’s winnings were not paid out before kickoff.
The interim between the early afternoon and late afternoon games on NFL Sunday is one of the most stressful for operators and punters alike. Bookies make their best effort to pay out winning wagers as quickly as possible, and punters stress over getting in their second round of bets in the short period of time before kickoff. It’s a common occurrence during the NFL season, and made worse as the games get bigger and volume increases. Unfortunately, DraftKings were a little too slow this Sunday, and Peabody suffered for it.
A spokesman for DraftKings, James Chisholm, said in a statement, “While we must follow our contest rules, we sincerely apologize for the experience several customers had where their bets were not graded in time to allow wagering on the Saints-Eagles game. We will learn from this experience and improve upon the rules and experience for future events.”
According to available data on the DraftKings’ site, some bettors got their winnings in time to bet on the NFC game, but Peabody wasn’t one of them. Contest rules stated that contestants were only permitted to bet on the two NFL playoff games, with no wagers allowed once the NFC game kicked off.
If he had the chance to make his bet, Peabody claimed he was considering a bet for the Saints (who won) or the under (which also won). The mishap ended up costing him as much as $670,000, as he finished in third place and took away $330,000. It’s a big difference, but still not a bad payday for a $10,000 entry.
As sports betting opens up in more states, and DraftKings partners with more states and casinos, they will need to get on top of their wager settlement, or risk alienating more serious punters in the future.