For those living under a rock, there happened to be a bit of controversy surrounding the finish to last night’s Monday Night Football game between Seattle and Green Bay. Golden Tate’s catch/no catch/interception/touchception not only decided the outright winner of the game, it created a 9 figure shift in gambling payouts.
According to sports business analyst Darren Rovell of ESPN, estimates for the financial swing created by the final play approach up to $250 million worldwide. The egregiousness of the missed call is magnified for gamblers considering the game involved a highly public side in Green Bay and the fact that almost every corner bookmaker uses MNF as the last game before square-up figures are decided. On top of that, nearly 3 out of every 4 bets came in on the Packers (closing line was Green Bay -3) so it’s more than just a few folks crying over spilled milk. As far as Vegas is concerned? Well it creates a headache yet there’s only one way to handle the decision professionally and with integrity.
“No book in Vegas can do it (refund the game) without gaming approval. All we can do is go by the definitive score since it’s what gaming regulates because the final score was posted. If we refund one game, it sets a dangerous precedent since anyone can then come up and complain if they feel wronged on any game during the season,” said Jeff Sherman head oddsmaker at the Las Vegas Hotel, which just happens to be home to the largest NFL handicapping contest anywhere in the land.
I for one having worked in the trenches agree 100% with Sherman’s analysis in accordance with gaming regulations. Players whine all the time (myself included) about the bad beats and brutal non-covers however the reality for anyone who bets on football is that this is part of the game. While brick and mortar books within the state of Nevada are governed by tight regulations, there are other books outside of our jurisdiction that can operate however they deem fit.
In a bold yet not unheard of PR move, Sportsbook.Ag chose to refund all bettors that placed wagers on the Packers last night. Great move right, clearly one that shows this offshore cares about its irate customer base? To quote the great Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend.” This type of PR driven tactic obviously serves to benefit the book long term and leave those wronged by bad calls before feeling slighted because their misfortune may have occurred during a scintillating Sun-Belt thriller instead of MNF. Clearly a Sunday snoozer between Buffalo and Cleveland wouldn’t attract nearly as much attention, and last time this former bookmaker checked, the money wagered on those games is just as green. Making decisions to benefit one faction of bettors opens a “pandora’s box” to quote Sherman and I echo his sentiments.
For those not as familiar with gambling think of it this way: if you’re a judge and you’re metering out punishment’s for the exact same crime, why lessen a penalty based on the day of the week the infraction was committed and how many people saw it unfold? Sherman went on to highlight the pronounced differences between how offshore and European based books can handle these unique occurrences because there isn’t a strict governing body in place. Every subsequent payout decision you make after this involving a bad call turns each graded wager into a debate that would bring presidential candidates to their knees.
One final note worth addressing is that everyone was quick to compare the way this game unfolded to last year’s USC vs Utah fiasco. In reality, the 2 games offer no similarities in how they were scored since the Pac 12 issued an actual score correction nearly an hour after the game while the NFL recognizes the final score last night as Seattle 14-12. We gamble as much for the spoils of victory as for the agony of defeat, the ensuing bad beat stories are just a byproduct of America’s past time. There will be plenty of Packer bettors denouncing the evils of wagering after this game but I’ll venture to say they’ll be right back at the window this coming Sunday with an ear to ear grin hoping it’s their turn to get some retribution for Tate’s Taint at Qwest.