A UK sports book is liable for $40,000 worth of losses after one bettor took advantage of some bad math by the sports betting outfit.

World Cup bets

Sporting Index anticipated plenty of goals being disallowed during the World Cup, but didn’t adjust odds when it should have. Now it will pay for that mistake, literally. (Source: Quartz)

Sporting Index offered up a World Cup bet called “Shocking Decision, Ref!”, which allowed people to wager on how many times the ball would cross the goal line without a goal ultimately being awarded.

Bad Call

The sports book apparently anticipated that the use of a Video Assistant referee would end up with loads of goals being called back. So much so that it set the over/under line on the number of disallowed goals at 22.5.

However, even though only one goal was called back through first 20 games of the tournament, the sports book never budged from its line of 22.5.

One wagerer took advantage of the oversight, and Simon Cawkwell, a former trader, is now in line to win $2,600 for every non-goal under the line of 22.5. With only seven such occurrences through 60 games, that adds up to a total win of about $40,000.

“They’ve put up a stupid novelty market and not really done the math properly,” said Andrew Woolfson, who owns a betting software company, according to the UK’s Guardian news site.

Size Matters

Although the company has agreed to pay out the wagers, Cawkwell and Woolfson remain unamused. They’re accusing the company of limiting the size of Cawkwell’s bets once the error came to light. 

“That’s where it’s a bit unfair. When you’ve made a mistake, we should have the right to win,” Woolfson told the Guardian.

Cawkwell, though, says he’ll take the wins where he can get them after previous betting losses through the bookmaker.

“Sporting Index takes huge bets so I’m delighted to win some money back off them. I don’t kid myself, they’ve done very well by my betting,” Cawkwell admitted.

In a statement, Sporting Index said it can’t comment on specific cases, but confirmed that it saw “two-way businesses both before and during the tournament.”

When Books Lose Big

The $40,000 miscalculation may sting, but it pales in comparison to some of the biggest losses bookmakers have suffered in recent years, such as:

  • National Championship Game, Clemson vs Alabama, 2017: Vegas books took between $15-20 million in action on college football’s title game. While the exact losses from the Clemson win aren’t known, a William Hill director called it the “single worst loss on any game day ever.”
  • World Series 2017: Vegas books got killed by futures bets after the Houston Astros beat the LA Dodgers in game seven of the World Series. They lost an estimated $11.4 million.
  • Super Bowl 2018 – One bettor alone reportedly won more than $10 million by wagering on the Eagles to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. William Hill also reported losing millions in that game. 

Vegas sports books also famously stood to lose big if the hometown Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup, with one book manager calling the team the single-biggest liability of “any team, in any sport”.

Luckily for them, the Knights fell just short of paying off when the new team lost to the Washington Capitals in the final.