Franz Kafka himself couldn’t have concocted a more verkakte tale than the one a recreational sports bettor in Oregon is going through right now.
Before we go any further, dear reader, please be aware that I don’t have, and won’t be getting, all the details. I can only report on what I’ve been told, and from what I’ve been told — while “Kafkaesque” gets thrown around a lot — this one qualifies.
It all started a week ago Monday, when a 30-something tech worker from Oregon opened his email account to find several messages from DraftKings confirming a series of deposits he made the day before totaling $1,500.
“This was an ‘oh s**t’ moment to me, because it wasn’t me,” the man, who asked not to be named, told Sports Handle. “So I submitted an email right away to DraftKings customer support — these are fraudulent deposits, it wasn’t me.”
The bettor was one of the victims of a well-publicized third-party breach involving several DraftKings accounts. In the Oregon man’s case, a hacker broke into his checking account through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network, then changed passwords and personal information to withdraw the $1,500.
While some DraftKings customers have been reimbursed in full, others report fraudulent activity as late as Tuesday morning.
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) November 22, 2022
“I was a little bit panicked, but this was DraftKings, and I figured this was something they’ve seen before, so I wasn’t super concerned,” the Oregon man said. “I sent them two or three emails throughout the day, they responded, and sent me a link to reset my password, and that they canceled the withdrawal of those funds.”
Problem? The phone number was changed on his account, so the password reset link didn’t work.
Emails followed, security questions were asked and answered, and he got into his account. He then tried to withdraw the money, but couldn’t.
Next stop: responsible gaming
Meanwhile, he was paying overdraft fees on his checking account, as he had numerous automatic bill payments set up. So he sent more emails, telling customer service this was urgent, that his account was at zero dollars — and then he got flagged by DraftKings’ responsible gaming department.
“They responded immediately and said I was now under investigation by responsible gaming due to the sentiment of [my] last email,” he said. “I don’t know what the hell that means.”
What it means is that — and this is where it’s a little muddy — something he said in his emails triggered something at DraftKings that triggered a responsible gaming response, one way or another.
Here is a good time to give you DraftKings’ response, which — be warned — isn’t entirely revelatory. It’s attributed to Shawn Henley, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Community:
“DraftKings takes pride in putting our customers first. Our award-winning customer service team makes every effort to respond to our customer’s questions as quickly as possible through our robust set of customer touch point tools like chat, email, social, self-service, and direct correspondence through phone calls. We operate in a heavily regulated industry that requires the careful evaluation and collection of personal information. Compliance is a core pillar of our business, and we believe legal and regulated sports betting is in the best interest of consumers. Our focus remains on the customer and efficiently resolving customer needs so that we can get them back to doing what they love, which is interacting with our top-rated products.”
Reading between the lines, I look to the part that says, “We operate in a heavily regulated industry that requires the careful evaluation and collection of personal information. Compliance is a core pillar of our business.”
So it seems as though our man in Oregon said something that caused DraftKings to bring in the responsible gaming team. It is impossible to fault DraftKings for this. After all, isn’t that exactly what we want — sportsbooks to be proactive when it comes to responsible gaming?
Terrible spot for DraftKings
To be abundantly clear, DraftKings is in a terrible spot here. They can’t — and shouldn’t — get into the nitty gritty of this with me. They need to protect their customers, protect their responsible gaming rules and processes, and protect their business.
The hacker attack has put them in a most undesirable position. Who knows what hoops the company has to jump through in order to make sure this mess — not of their doing — gets cleaned up?
And based on a cursory Twitter search, this Oregon man is not alone in his troubles.
My @DraftKings hacked. 13k deposited, restricted before hacker can withdraw the funds. Have luckily gained access and secured the account. Ive been trying to withdraw the funds for days now. Draftkings accused me of having a gambling problem b/c i mentioned I need the money back
— kyle (@kyle29972522) November 23, 2022
(By the way, to give you some idea of how there’s still a bunch of no-goodniks milling about this issue, check out the replies to the tweet above, with people saying, “Hey, send me your info, I can recover your account!” Sheesh.)
But still, on a human, one-to-one basis, we return our attention to the Oregon bettor.
“So I’m sitting here with $1,500 I did not deposit sitting in my DraftKings account they locked me out of,” he said. “I guess I violated the terms because I deposited an amount of money I wasn’t responsibly able to deposit. The problem is I didn’t actually deposit it. So it’s a violation of their responsible gaming terms, but I wasn’t the one gaming.”
Even more maddening: Before the fraud, there were only a few bucks in the man’s DraftKings account. He said he hadn’t used it in months, and when he did bet, it would never be more than $100 — not exactly the mark of a problem gambler.
At this point, he’s filed a claim with his bank and has been in contact with Oregon Lottery authorities, who told him they will contact DraftKings.
“They’re not trying to be malicious here, and I can appreciate and respect that they’re going through their responsible gaming process and trying to eliminate bad behavior,” he said. “But what’s so confusing to me is that this is all on one ticket from my side, and that ticket is only there because of fraudulent activity. So it’s the ticket for a fraudulent deposit that they’re going back on and saying the deposit wasn’t responsible. I don’t think they’re out to get me, I just think they’re disorganized, and the customer service department and the responsible gaming department aren’t talking to each other.”
Maybe. Who knows? In the meantime, one way or another, he still doesn’t have access to his money, some nine days later. It’s not his fault. It’s not the fault of DraftKings. But it is.
Paging Mr. Kafka, Mr. Franz Kafka.