DraftKings Sued Over Sports Betting National Championship Contest Tech Glitch

Posted on: January 18, 2019, 07:45h. 

Last updated on: January 18, 2019, 07:45h.

DraftKings is being sued in the Superior Court of New Jersey by a plaintiff who says the sportsbook’s tech glitches during its Sports Betting National Championship (SBNC) resulted in a flawed tournament.

DraftKings Atlantic City sports betting lawsuit
DraftKings is the target of a lawsuit after the sportsbook operator suffered technical glitches during its recent Sports Betting National Championship tournament. (Image: Ed Barkowitz/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Attorneys representing Christopher Leong are seeking refunds for all 260 players who paid $10,000 last weekend to participate in the SBNC. It also seeks an additional $334,000 in punitive damages.

The lawsuit argues that DraftKings’ “negligent, arbitrary, and capricious operation of the SBNC” was “unconscionable” and prevented Leong and others from properly participating in the contest. 

The SBNC challenged bettors to grow an initial $5,000 bankroll. They could bet on any sport Friday and Saturday, but only the two NFL Divisional Playoff games on Sunday. 

The SBNC ended in controversy after technical glitches blocked some players from placing bets on Sunday. Rufus Peabody, a self-described professional sports bettor, was in first place when his account froze, rendering him unable to make a wager on the New England Patriots-Los Angeles Chargers game.

Two others who were able to make a bet in hopes of increasing their bankrolls ended up surpassing Peabody, who finished in third to win $330,000. Atlantic City poker dealer Randy Lee won the $1 million top prize.

Rough Going in Atlantic City

DraftKings and FanDuel have made the transition from daily fantasy sports to full-scale sports betting operators. It hasn’t been easy.

In September, FanDuel erroneously took a $110 bet on 750/1 odds that the Denver Broncos would come back to beat the Oakland Raiders. Problem was, the Broncos were down by only a point with less than a minute left, and were in field goal range. 

Newark resident Anthony Prince was surprised by the long odds, and made the wager. When Denver kicker Brandon McManus punched a game-winning 36-yard field goal through the uprights, he held a winning ticket slip worth $82,000.

After initially refusing to pay, as FanDuel said the odds were incorrect, the sportsbook caved to public backlash and dished out the money.

Hurried Lawsuit

Leong’s lawyers took less than four days to craft their 22-page lawsuit. The hastiness shows, as the abbreviation for the Sports Betting National Championship – SBNC – is erroneously typed SNBC three times in the complaint. 

Peabody tells ESPN he’s still considering his legal options. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement is also investigating the controversy. 

It is truly disappointing to learn so many people lost their time and money on a contest that was seemingly operated in an arbitrary and capricious manner,” Leong attorney Maurice VerStandig explained to ESPN. 

“We expect more from our licensed gaming establishments, and frankly, we expect better from DraftKings. We look forward to pursuing our case in court, and it is our hope to help bring justice to all the players who have been wronged,” VerStandig stated.