The FanDuel sportsbook isn’t waiting for the outcome of the College Football Playoff (CFP), and is instead declaring the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide the national champions.
Despite the CFP semifinal and National Championship still weeks away, and three more than formidable teams remaining in the running, FanDuel says it’s paying out on single-game bets made on Alabama and parlays involving the Crimson Tide.
It has been a dominant season for the Crimson Tide and our traders have seen enough,” the company said in a statement Friday night. “It is time to reward our loyal customers. The FanDuel sportsbook has decided to settle all futures wagers on Alabama as winners, regardless of what happens.”
FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports bigwig that transitioned into sports betting in wake of the Supreme Court’s May decision to repeal the federal ban, operates the sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack in Northern New Jersey. The company is also a mobile sports betting provider inside the Garden State.
FanDuel additionally operates sports betting in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
With full-fledged sports betting now up and running in eight states, operators like FanDuel are competing to establish market share. FanDuel, as well as fantasy sports rival DraftKings, benefit from having established brand identity with US sports fans, and they’re working hard to make sure those customers don’t stray to Nevada sportsbooks expanding their operations across the country.
The Alabama payout is a relatively safe gamble for FanDuel, as the vast majority of college football analysts agree that the Crimson Tide are the best team in the nation. The Westgate SuperBook has ‘Bama at 4/9, or implied odds of 70 percent, to win it all and defend their national title.
In the interim, FanDuel can tout its generosity, and media stories such as this one put the sportsbook in the news.
“While the college football season has not had too many surprises, we wanted to surprise our customers today, thank them for their loyalty, and prove there are more ways to win on FanDuel,” company Chief Marketing Officer Mike Raffensperger said.
FanDuel added that the early payout “made sports betting history by being the first legal sports betting operator in the United States to pay out future wagers … over a month before the final game is played.” Of course, should Alabama be upset, FanDuel will still pay out on the correct winner.
If Alabama doesn’t win it all, the early payout will cost FanDuel an estimated $400,000.
It’s not the first time bets have been paid out early. During the 2016 US election, Irish bookmaker declared Hilary Clinton the victor, and we all know how that played out.
Since going live in July, FanDuel’s operations in New Jersey haven’t been without controversy. In September, the sportsbook erroneously offered odds that a gambler at the Meadowlands pounced on.
The Denver Broncos were trailing the Oakland Raiders 19-17 with about a minute remaining in the game. But the Broncos were driving, and the possibility of a field goal was strong. Yet FanDuel’s in-game betting had Denver’s odds of winning at 750/1.
Newark resident Anthony Price stepped up to the window and plopped down $110. When Denver kicked the winning field goal to end the game 20-19, he was owed a staggering $82,500.
FanDuel originally refused to pay the ticket on grounds that the odds were clearly an error. But after much public criticism, the sportsbook agreed to pay out on the winnings.