DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship Ends in Controversy as Glitch Freezes Out Potential Winner

Posted on: January 15, 2019, 01:58h. 

Last updated on: January 15, 2019, 01:58h.

DraftKings’ inaugural Sports Betting National Championship ended in controversy on Sunday evening when the player leading the handicapping tournament was denied his final bet — and a possible $1 million first prize — apparently due to a technical glitch.

Sports Betting National Championship
The Patriots finished the chargers off early in their meeting on Sunday, but some participants in the DraftKings’ inaugural Sports Betting National Championship were also finished off too early by a technical glitch, a situation that has embarrassed the New Jersey sports betting market leader. (NFL)

Professional sports bettor Rufus Peabody was in pole position as the 200-strong field headed into the final bet of the contest in Jersey City — or at least he should have been.

He had just bet the farm on the New England Patriots -3.5 against the Los Angeles Chargers and was waiting for his $82,000 winnings to clear in his account so he could place what he hoped would be his winning wager: all-in on the New Orleans Saints to beat the Philadelphia Eagles at a reduced point spread or on the under.

As Peabody related to ESPN afterwards, the way he saw it, it was a 50/50 shot at a million dollars. Both the bets he was considering would have won.

Bankroll on Hold

But the funds didn’t clear in time. The Patriots-Chargers game finished four minutes before Saints-Eagles game, and for all Peabody’s frantic refreshing of his browser, he missed kick off and was locked out of the contest in accordance with DraftKing’s rules.

“I had spent the last 2.5 hours running over all the numbers,” said Peabody, who runs his own football analytics site. “And, as it goes at the end, I was going back and forth: ‘Which one am I going to do? Am I going to pull the trigger?’ It was going to be a Saints bet of some kind or the under. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance.”

Instead, Peabody had to settle for third place and $330,000 for his $10,000 outlay. Not too shabby, but — as his planned final bet suggests — he was in it to win it.

Instead, the million-dollar prize went to New Jersey poker dealer Randy Lee, who had $47,500 on the Eagles +8.5. The Saints won 20-14.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement said Monday it is reviewing the outcome of the tournament.

DraftKings Apology

The two-day contest challenged bettors to spin-up the biggest cash total from a $5,000 starting bankroll by betting on whichever games they liked on Saturday, but Sunday was limited to betting on just the two games.

But while Peabody and others were frozen out, most, including Lee, were not.

“We recognize that in the rules the scheduled end of betting coincided very closely to the finish of the of Patriots-Chargers game,” said a DraftKings spokesman.

“While we must follow our contest rules, we sincerely apologize for the experience several customers had where their bets were not graded in time to allow wagering on the Saints-Eagles game. We will learn from this experience and improve upon the rules and experience for future events,” he added.

Peabody appeared philosophical about his third-place finish when he spoke to ESPN after the tournament, which was the first of its kind outside Las Vegas. He declined to say whether he would be taking legal action against DraftKings.