This warning led Christopher Kozak to make three recent successful long-shot hockey bets on Hard Rock Bets (including bets on a number of NHL players who went scoreless in the same game) on Tennessee. After voiding it, I almost lost $127,420. A sportsbook operated by the Seminole Tribe informed him several days after the game in question that his payment was a “clear error” and that he therefore owed him nothing more than a refund.
When Kozak pushed back, Hard Rock tried to renegotiate the odds, but “it was a slap in the face,” Kozak said. Kozak shared screenshots of the bet and extensive correspondence with Hard Rock with The Washington Post. His messages show that company officials have repeatedly refused to explain the nature of the “error” or why it became “apparent.”
The company declined to answer questions from the Post. And last week, nearly two months after voiding Kozak's bet and taking questions from reporters, the company agreed to pay him in full. He recently filed a complaint with the Tennessee Sports Wagering Council, but a company spokesperson said Hard Rock was not ordered to pay.
He placed bets inside Pokeshops and exposed D.C. sportsbooks to attack.
The Tennessee Sports Wagering Council responded to The Post's questions about Kozak's case, how often sportsbooks cite “obvious errors” to avoid paying customers, and the state's response to questions about what mistakes are obvious and which mistakes. He refused to answer questions about how he determines whether something is unclear.
Virtually all U.S. sportsbooks have similar liberal language in their terms of service. Bookmakers agree that there is no need to honor bets that take advantage of “fat finger” typos, such as displaying the “over/under” points total for a football match as 500 instead of 50. . But operators are increasingly canceling winning bets that result from bookmakers' more opaque types of failures, according to six of his people involved in sportsbooks, which has divided regulators across the country. philosophical debate.
Many states give sportsbooks considerable leeway to void wins. If you place a bet after the fact simply because the odds or lines were significantly out of sync with what your competitors were offering. But some regulators argue that, with some exceptions, a bet is a bet, no matter how much the operator wishes to get the bet back.
“We're taking a hard line,” said David Reback, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. “These types of [pricing] There should be no errors. ”
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There's no way for customers to know exactly how often their winning bets are canceled, but Rex Beyers, who has worked at Caesars and several other sportsbooks, says at least one operator across the industry cancels their bets every day. I'm guessing you're trying to disable it. Beyers says some level of protection is warranted. “When a customer tries to make money with a blatant fat finger, they're basically stealing money from someone who made a mistake.”
As a result of sportsbooks offering far more betting opportunities than ever before, the result is mainly props that include team and player statistics, and in-game “micro bets” such as whether a soccer possession will lead to a goal. ”, there seem to be a lot of mistakes made. Sportsbooks also promote the same game parlays, allowing customers to bundle up props for the chance to win big if each leg of their bets hits.
This house is more favorable in parlays, sometimes collecting about $20 for every $100 wagered, compared to about $5 for every $100 on traditional “straight” bets. But Ed Miller, a former executive at odds provider Huddle, says it's “essentially impossible” to generate accurate real-time odds for thousands of hypothesis combinations every second of every day. . The main reason for this is that most parlay legs from the same game are correlated. The range is from nearly 100% linked outcomes (for example, if one team's wide receiver makes a touchdown catch, that probably means the starting quarterback threw for his TD), to This ranges from more subtle connections such as when a back attempts a large number of passes. means total score.
Bookbinding software cannot account for all correlations. “They're going to make mistakes,” Miller said. “There's no way around it.” But in his view, there are obvious technical failures, like listing favorites as underdogs, and analytical oversights, whether human or programmatic. There is a fundamental difference between the two. Miller said too many sportsbooks use the “obvious error” rule as a “get out of jail free” card, cleaning up parlays against props and casual bettors while keeping big winners “repeatedly and indefinitely.” Instead of disabling the product, the defective product should be removed and its weaknesses addressed.
Kozak, a Chicago-based financial derivatives trader and experienced sports bettor, sought to exploit this type of vulnerability. On a trip to Nashville in November, he played 10 same-game NHL parlays through the Hard Rock sportsbook and won three of them. He bet for $300 that in the Anaheim game between his Ducks and the Florida Panthers, eight of his players would not score and Anaheim would score fewer than his three points. (Florida won him 2-1.)
Hard Rock initially recognized the 200-to-1 parlay as the winner and deposited $60,000 into Kozak's account, but the funds were reversed five days later. Two similarly structured parlays involving games between the Minnesota Wild and the Ottawa Senators were supposed to win about $36,000 each, but they were not scored.
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Hard Rock's house rules state that bets may be void if the odds or lines are “caused by human or system error…to be materially different from the prevailing market or clearly incorrect.” It is stipulated that In New Jersey, the company goes a step further and defines a clear error as “a deviation of more than 100% in the payout compared to the market average or intended odds.”
Based on data archived on betting tracking site Betstamp, the odds for each leg of Kozak's parlay were comparable to odds offered by other sportsbooks. However, it is impossible to determine the market average for parlay payouts for the same game, as different operators calculate correlation differently. Mr. Kozak estimates that his 200-to-1 bet has about a 1% chance of success. This is better than the implied dividend, but not significantly better.
At the end of the day, Kozak said he handicaps all bets and only places bets if he thinks the value is in his favor. In a way, the whole purpose of sports betting is to find and take advantage of wrongly priced odds and lines. In the eyes of many gamblers, voiding these wins betrays the spirit of the game.
Ultimately, Mr. Kozak sent a message regarding X to Matt Primeau, Executive Managing Director and President of Hard Rock Digital, who told Mr. Kozak, “Based on the correct correlation value,” that the three winners He offered to pay a total of $25,200. Mr. Kozak rejected the offer and filed a complaint with state regulators.
Even voiding bets on obviously wrong lines can be unpleasant for customers. Danny Moses, one of the mortgage bond traders portrayed in the book and movie The Big Short, had recently bet $50 that the Baltimore Ravens would beat the Detroit Lions in the Super Bowl. The odds were generous at 500 to 1, but they were voided. Hard Rock Bet. He said the company made no attempt to contact him to explain its decision.
“No one on Wall Street will be able to escape this,” he said. “What do you think would happen if instead of 1 million shares he was going to buy 100,000 shares? You eat it. Why? Because this is a regulated business, the SEC [the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority] Look at it, and you are responsible for your own mistakes. If sports gambling wants to become a regulated business, operators must admit their mistakes. ”
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What's even more “mind-boggling,” Moses added, is the fact that even though Hard Rock voided his bet, it hasn't canceled the same bet from a friend who lives in New Jersey. The company told the Post it asked New Jersey gaming officials for permission to void the bet. But would the company have requested a refund of the bet if the Lions had lost the first game of the playoffs, or were simply declared losers? (The company did not respond to that question.)
Online sports betting has been legal in the UK since 2005, and sportsbooks reserve the right to void obvious mistakes, or what is known as 'pulp'. Luke Paton, a long-time bettor who previously worked for British betting exchange Betfair, said sportsbooks should avoid large payouts for blatant teasing. He said it would be unreasonable for the store to stick to that price if the TV was normally sold for £1,000 but he had mistakenly listed it for £10.
But he added that sportsbooks “can't have it both ways.” They set sloppy odds, collect lost bets, and void winning bets.
Levack said New Jersey decided to impose even stricter standards after seeing Europe's lax standards for palpation. Shortly after the state legalized sports betting in 2018, administrators mistakenly listed Kentucky's men's basketball team as a double-digit underdog instead of a strong contender. After an investigation, New Jersey ordered the operator to pay up, saying it still had a theoretical chance of winning against Kentucky's overwhelming opponent. On other occasions, a field goal requires him to be at least 10 yards, and in most cases at least he must be at least 18 yards, so the operator must be able to field a football game more than 2 yards for his goal. Allowed to void bets.
He said that if an operator attempts to void a bet due to a pricing error, New Jersey must determine what software or supervisory flaws caused the error and how it will be fixed in the future. They are demanding to know whether the
Some businesses in the state still publish codes that cite blanket rights to override obvious mistakes. Levak said his agency doesn't have the ability to scrutinize every detail of an operator, but when it comes to voiding bets without the agency's approval, “we wouldn't do that, and if we did, “If there is, that's a violation of consumer law and we're not going to do that.” Now I'm going to sue you. ”
Levak said disputes over odds errors would become less frequent if regulations were more tightly enforced. “This is not good for the industry and certainly not good for the users,” he said.