This article originated on Action Network. You can read more of their coverage of the sports betting industry here.
The Action Network’s Avery Yang and Darren Rovell contributed to this report.
In between teaching geometry and precalculus at West Springfield High School in Virginia, Kris Benton likes to sprinkle in some wagers on the sport he knows most: soccer.
After all, West Springfield’s boy’s soccer coach knows a thing or two about footy. The math teacher — and son of a fellow math teacher — won over $230,000 at +6600 odds on a set of parlays for a Women’s World Cup match between the Netherlands and Vietnam on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
Elated, Benton and his wife had already begun making plans to pay off her student loans and start a college fund for their six-month-old daughter.
Then, every bettor’s personal nightmare ensued. Even though the bets were explicitly graded as winners, after he went to withdraw, BetMGM said it set the wrong odds for the game’s “corner kick” market, which had been the crux of each of Benton’s parlays. The sportsbook voided the wagers, took the winnings, and returned his original $3,250 stake.
BetMGM did not specify what the mispriced line should have been advertised at. Benton wasn’t aware, either, because MGM doesn’t display individual odds when you build out a Same Game Parlay — just your final odds for the entire parlay.
Netherlands had been massive, -10000 favorites to beat Vietnam, so it stands to reason that they should have been big favorites in the corner market, too. Tacking on a clean sheet or first goalscorer shouldn’t have tilted those odds all that much.
Exploring the sportsbook’s reasoning
According to emails obtained from Benton, BetMGM’s customer support referred to its terms and conditions, which permits the sportsbook to void wagers that “are materially different from those available in the general betting market for a given event at the time the wager was placed.”
The ruling is under its “obvious errors” tab of the terms, which in theory authorizes BetMGM to void wagers for other listed reasons, like in the event of system errors or if a game is incorrectly scored.
Massachusetts commissioners, in considering sports betting licenses earlier this year, deliberated whether sportsbooks should be allowed to keep the “obvious errors” provision in their terms and conditions. Ultimately, the practice remained. Cases like this may further sway state regulators into action.
Curiously, in this case, the odds were not “materially different from those available in the general betting market.” BetMGM‘s main competitors across the American betting landscape — DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars — do not have markets on corner kicks posted for the Women’s World Cup. FanDuel and Caesars don’t even host corner markets for Premier League or La Liga matches.
The fact that the Netherlands were massive favorites — and likely should have been massive favorites in the corners market — is ancillary to the fact that BetMGM’s odds for this contest could not be “materially different” than the rest of the market because the rest of the market didn’t price it at all.
A far more legally ambiguous provision in BetMGM’s terms and conditions states wagers can be voided if “odds [are] clearly incorrect given the probability of the event occurring.” One could argue that this provision could theoretically be applied for every line a sportsbook posts, ever.
A representative for BetMGM responded, “No official statement,” when the Action Network inquired about the situation.
What happens from here?
Benton said he had not yet reached out to the Virginia Lottery, which regulates sports betting in the state. The math teacher has had a few lawyers reach out to him, but Benton hasn’t yet spoken to them over the phone or in person.
The Virginia Lottery said in a statement to the Action Network that it is in contact with BetMGM about the matter. The state commission also confirmed that it had not yet received an official complaint from Benton.
Situations like this, of course, have occurred since online sports betting was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. And historical precedent doesn’t bode well for BetMGM.
In 2018, FanDuel initially balked at paying out over $82,000 for a mispriced line during a game between the Raiders and Broncos. With the Broncos down 19-17 but in field goal range, Denver’s odds jumped to +75000 for about 18 seconds instead of -600 — what the price was intended to be. Twelve bettors capitalized — including one that placed $110 to win $82,500.
After refusing to shell out, FanDuel eventually relented, paying back that bettor and 11 others that were prescient enough during that 18-second window.
And in early 2022, a similar situation plagued DraftKings.
Before a regular season game between the Warriors and Cavaliers, it was announced that Draymond Green — who was injured — would suit up as a starter then immediately be taken out of the game in order to honor teammate Klay Thompson, who was returning from a two-and-a-half season absence due to ACL and achilles injuries.
But DraftKings was slow to react to the news. In its NBA terms and conditions, the sportsbook states that all player props are valid so long as a participant logs a second of gameplay.
Bettors hammered the under on an array of Green props, costing the sportsbook — on paper — more than $1 million. While DraftKings checked in with regulators and its own legal team as to how to proceed, those wagers weren’t paid out.
Twenty-four hours later, the unders were honored.