Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) had a clear advantage over Manchester United when the two met in the Champions League series this past March. It had already defeated Manchester 2-0 in the first leg of competition. That put PSG as the favorite to win, but Manchester wasn’t ready to go down without a fight. As a result, some gamblers scored big paydays at the expense of the sportsbooks. Paddy Power Betfair was one, and ultimately had to pay out over $1 million in wagers because of Manchester’s comeback.
Manchester was down in points going into the final match, but was able to come back due to what has been considered one of the most controversial VAR calls of the year, if not the entire VAR life. An incidental contact call inside the box was made at virtually the last second of the match, resulting in the call being reviewed by the VAR ref. The call stood and Manchester went for a free kick.
With the powerful foot of Forward Marcus Rashford, Manchester picked up its third goal to tie and would go on to win on goals. Although the entire soccer world was stunned, no one was more shocked than the Paddy Power brass. Almost exclusively because of the VAR call, they were now looking at a payout of $1.3 million in bets.
Paddy Power has had a rough year so far. Its sportsbook sales dropped 10% due to gamblers winning the advantage and this has resulted in online sports revenue dipping 6% to $197 million across the first quarter of the year. It has seen the pendulum swing in favor of bettors, with Manchester City and Liverpool helping gamblers fill their wallets with undefeated league records. Four draws in 34 games in the Premier League during March didn’t help, either. Sportsbooks love to see draws because they are often the least-backed option, making them swing in favor of the gambling houses.
The good news is that it has seen increases elsewhere. Gaming sales jumped 26% on strong European and U.S. demand. This has helped the company increase its overall revenue by 17% to $622.43 million. That will take some of the sting out of the $1.3 million loss on a single match.