The on-field cardiac arrest of Bills safety Damar Hamlin knocked the NFL off its axis, demonstrating on national television how dangerous the sport can be.
And while everyone hopes for Hamlin’s recovery — at the time of this writing, he remains in critical condition at a Cincinnati hospital — obviously the NFL will continue with its season.
Which begs the question (and which was asked by the Associated Press late Monday night during an NFL conference call) as to what will happen with the Bills-Bengals game, which was suspended after Hamlin was taken to the hospital.
Hours after the incident, the NFL demurred.
“That’s not the consideration right now,” replied Jeff Miller, the executive vice president of communications for the NFL. “Our concern is for the player and his well-being. At the appropriate time, I’m sure that we’ll have a conversation around the next steps regarding the game.”
On Tuesday morning, sportsbooks were in a holding pattern concerning bets on and associated with the game. Then, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced by mid-day that the game would not be played this week, while leaving open the possibility that it could be completed at a future date.
Sports Handle has reached out to numerous sportsbooks seeking information on their plans concerning bets that had been made on the game.
No easy answers
The DraftKings customer support team issued a statement via Twitter at 10:40 p.m. Monday, saying that “when an official decision is made regarding the status of the game, we will assess the situation and communicate accordingly.” This was confirmed by a DraftKings representative early Tuesday.
We are monitoring tonight’s game between the Bills and Bengals. When an official decision is made regarding the status of the game, we will assess the situation and communicate accordingly. Our thoughts are with Damar Hamlin and his family
— DraftKings CX Team (@DK_Assist) January 3, 2023
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) January 3, 2023
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Damar Hamlin 🙏 https://t.co/n6H1bhUepT
— Caesars Sportsbook (@CaesarsSports) January 3, 2023
A spokesperson for WynnBET, responding to Sports Handle’s request, said, “Our house rules state that all wagers would be void if the event were to not be played within 24 hours of the postponement,” indicating bettors there should expect their money back shortly.
Circa Sportsbook is also pointing to its house rules when it comes to settlement of bets.
“Per our house rules, all football games must be played within eight days of the originally scheduled date and take place within a 100-mile radius of the originally scheduled venue,” said Jeff Benson, Circa’s operations manager. “Once we have more understanding from the league as to when this game will be completed, then we’ll be able to refund any affected markets if the game won’t fall in that eight-day window.”
Per BetRivers rules, the only way the game will count toward any outstanding bets is if it’s played by Wednesday, so it would seem those bettors will also be seeing a “void” in their settled bets.
“These bets will stand only if the game is played within the same game week, so before Thursday, [Jan. 5],” a BetRivers spokesperson relayed. “All bets will void if the game is picked back up on Thursday or later. Bets won’t be voided until the expiration of the game week or the NFL officially reschedules to Thursday or later.”
Underdog Fantasy, which was expected to crown the $2 million winner of its Best Ball Mania tournament after the game, immediately took to Twitter to explain plans surrounding that and other tournaments. For weekly and daily tournaments, the company voided all action. For Best Ball Mania and other season-long tournaments, they will count the scores if the game continues. And if it doesn’t, the standings will remain as is.
Per our rules re suspended games, all pick’em selections in tonight’s game will be refunded. Our thoughts are with Damar Hamlin.
— Underdog Fantasy (@UnderdogFantasy) January 3, 2023
This is an ongoing story and will be updated as warranted and as more sportsbooks provide responses.