And now, welcome to the first Oopsies, celebrating the 10 worst moments of the sports betting world in 2021. (Note: Calling these things the “Oopsies” probably counts as number 11 on the list. If you have something better, please, drop a line. I almost went with the “Shoeless Joe Awards.” Actually, I’m in charge here, so …)
And now, welcome to the first Shoeless Joe Awards, celebrating the 10 worst, most “oopsiest” moments in the world of sports betting for 2021. These are in no particular order, but they are all … not great.
Florida can only be Florida
Leave it to Florida to completely muck up its entry into the sports betting world. If these were real awards, the music would play me off the stage as I tried to explain what the heck happened — and is happening — down there. To nutshell, then: The Seminoles made a deal with the governor but FanDuel and DraftKings are running an end-around to try and get mobile betting out of the Seminoles’ hands and that’s turning into an Elmore Leonard novel and the Hard Rock started taking bets and then the feds were like, “Ease up, this Seminole deal ain’t kosher.” And now, as we enter 2022, if you want to place a legal bet in Florida, you need to hop a flight to Newark. Either Newark, but still – Newark.
The tout wars
OK fine, maybe “wars” is a bit much, but there were a pair of tout-related stories this year that both make the list. One, because it’s kinda sad, and the other because it’s kinda stupid.
First up, the sad: Ol’ Pete Rose was back in the news, signing a deal with the Mexico-based UPickTrade.com to give his best bets of the day on baseball and other sports. At least Rose is leaning in, I guess? Sad.
As for stupid? It’s another UPickTrade story. The Las Vegas Golden Knights signed a deal with the tout outfit, the first time a professional sports team teamed up with a service that sells picks. This one got so much attention and backlash that the Golden Knights bid a good night to this deal after a week.
It looks like @GoldenKnights have done the honorable thing and ended their partnership with sports betting tout site, UPickTrade.
We took a deeper dive into UPick's February NBA record (available on their website) and here's why the Golden Knights may have changed their minds. pic.twitter.com/eBkYT9h0sC
— Unabated (@UnabatedSports) February 27, 2021
DraftKings? More like DraftPeasants, amirite?
All right, listen: DraftKings is winning a quartet of Shoeless Joes here. And while that may seem like a bad thing, it’s not completely horrible, as DraftKings has put itself out there and has its hand in a lot of different efforts to give customers more options for their entertainment dollar.
But still: Four Shoeless Joes ain’t great. Oopsie!
- The terrible, horrible, no good single-game parlay rules: Single-game parlays exploded this year, with nearly every operator trying to get in on the surely-lucrative game. But earlier this month, an ugly side of SGPs reared its head when it was discovered DraftKings – along with BetMGM, Caesars, and BetRivers, among others – voids SGPs if one leg is voided. So if you place a four-leg bet, and one of the players ends up on the COVID list, the whole bet voids. Other operators — notably FanDuel and Barstool — do the right thing and simply recalculate the odds.
- NFT stands for “not freaking tight”: DraftKings got into the NFT business earlier this year and kicked things off with a Tom Brady co-owned Autograph NFT operation. At first, everyone was happy; the debut was smooth and painless. And then it was discovered there was a backend way to avoid the line to purchase these digital collectibles, and some users were able to game the system and make tens of thousands of dollars doing so. And while DraftKings eventually fixed the problem, it didn’t shut things down in the interim, and the problem persisted for over a week, undoubtedly souring many users on the experience. Oopsie!
- The Sports Betting Championship Snafu: DraftKings had issues with this the first time it tried it in 2019, and this year … it had issues again. This time around, not all bettors were allowed the same limits on the first day of the tournament. But in a PR coup — and, not-so-incidentally, a “doing the right thing” thing — DraftKings announced that everyone who entered the tournament, win or lose, would get their $10,000 stake back. All’s well that ends well, but still: Oopsie.
- And lastly, there was the Survivor Pool brouhaha, in which a 16-16 tie between the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers taught DraftKings to make sure they read its own terms and conditions sheet. Basically, if you picked a team that tied, you lost, except DraftKings first graded the picks as wins, and if you were playing in the lower-dollar tournament, it did count as a win. But not in the higher-dollar tournament. Got that? Yeah, neither did anyone else. Oops-a-doops.
Joey vs. Davey
If you’re a fan of professional wrestling, you’ll know some of the most memorable moments involve heel vs. heel feuds. Nothing like two bad guys duking it out.
And in the world of sports betting, it’s fair to say Dave Portnoy and the man known as “Joey Knish” both relish their roles as “heels” — which made their springtime feud fun to watch.
Knish accused Portnoy and Barstool of not being a “sportsbook for the people” because he was banned from Barstool’s promo markets, which Knish claims he never even used. He then took to Twitter to accuse Portnoy of being nothing more than a “corporate shill”
EMERGENCY PRESS CONFERENCE: @BSSportsbook @stoolpresidente and @BarstoolBigCat EXPOSED FOR WHO THEY REALLY ARE. CORPORATE SHILLS WHO ONLY TAKE LOSING BETTORS TO LINE THEIR OWN POCKETS. https://t.co/3PrQG5OzTB pic.twitter.com/hYJ3cz4qsM
— Joey Knish (@JoeyKnish22) May 13, 2021
Portnoy – not a wallflower – fired back, likening Knish to a “card counter” who uses “bots.”
In the end, no one looked good here, and the whole “promo” market could probably use its own Shoeless Joe Awards.
To void or not to void (they voided)
You really need to click the link and read the whole story, but the former William Hill, now Caesars, really termed-and-conditioned this Colorado bettor out of his rightful winnings. In short: The bettor won a $2,500 parlay on his first wager, which was a free bet he received for depositing $500.
He then tried to withdraw his winnings, but he wasn’t allowed to do so because the free bet was tied to a “play through” requirement. But instead of letting the bettor then “play through,” William Hill went for the jugular and took back the winnings, which, incredibly, it was allowed to do per the terms and conditions.
After the win, the customer requested a withdrawal of the $3000 in their account. William Hill rejected the withdrawal, suspended the account and sent the customer this: pic.twitter.com/nuAyh1qSH4
— Captain Jack Andrews (@capjack2000) March 23, 2021
The Colorado Division of Gaming eventually sided with William Hill. This one was bad, bad, bad.
And the winner is …
If there were a Worst Moment Award at our Shoeless Joes … well, actually, there is now, as I’m the captain here. So the award for Worst Moment in the Sportsbook Industry 2021 goes to Tennessee Action 24/7, which saw its license suspended due to credit card fraud, money laundering, and proxy betting taking place on its platform, according to an investigation by regulators.
In an emergency Tennessee Lottery meeting, an investigator says Advance Financial's sportsbook, Action 24/7, was being used for credit card fraud and money laundering that could range from the 10s to 100s of thousands of dollars.
— Erik Schelzig (@schelzig) March 19, 2021
The highlight? The whole problem, which was self-reported by the locally owned sportsbook, would have been avoided if Tennessee Action 24/7 had put in “minimum internal controls.”
The company is back in action. In Tennessee. And running 24/7.
All right! Thank you for joining us. Come back next year, and your local news is next!