DraftKings Sportsbook Refunds Penn State Bets After Controversial Call

  • DraftKings announced it would refund moneyline bets placed on Penn State on Saturday
  • Replay footage suggested the Hoosiers' winning overtime conversion should not have stood
  • PointsBet and FanDuel have also refunded bets after controversial calls in the past
  • DraftKings has signed a number of deals this year to increase its exposure in the US
logo of Penn State Nittany Lions football team
The DraftKings sportsbook decided to refund bettors after a controversial call saw Penn State lose out to the Hoosiers in overtime on Saturday. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A controversial overtime win

US-based sports betting operator DraftKings decided to refund all bets placed on Penn State on Saturday after the team lost because of a controversial call.

the ball may have hit out of bounds just before it touched the pylon

The college football game in question pitted the eighth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions against the Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers clinched a 36-35 overtime victory when quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was able to dive for the pylon after a desperation scramble on a two-point conversion. Instant replay showed that the ball may have hit out of bounds just before it touched the pylon, but after review, officials ruled that the play would stand as called on the field.

One of the key parts of the ruling is that the referee said the play “stands”, which means that there was not enough evidence to change the call. Since it was ruled a successful two-point attempt on the field, it remained as such. If there was definitive video evidence that the attempt was good, the official would have said the call was “confirmed”.

Although the game result remains unchanged, DraftKings confirmed with Sports Illustrated on Sunday morning that it would refund bets. It later announced on Twitter that it would return all moneyline wagers placed on Penn State after the “tough call”:

Other instances of goodwill

DraftKings is not the only US sportsbook to have refunded bets after controversial calls in sport. Most notably, FanDuel and PointsBet have also compensated bettors in the past as a gesture of goodwill.

In 2018, PointsBet CEO Johnny Aitken announced that the company had created a ‘Karma Kommittee’ with the aim of providing customers with fair payouts on unfair decisions or results. Last month, the Kommittee offered full refunds on all spread bets placed on the Tennessee Titans in their NFL game against the Denver Broncos. This was due to the poor performance of the Titans’ usually reliable placekicker.

One of PointsBet’s largest Karma payouts to date came in 2018, when the sportsbook operator refunded bets placed on the New Orleans Saints in the team’s NFC Championship Game with the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams sealed the win after officials missed a defensive pass interference penalty which could have swung the game. According to PointsBet communications director Patrick Eichner, more than 80% of tickets and about 65% of the money was on the Titans before kickoff.

Operator gestures of goodwill are not just restricted to the NFL. In September, DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet refunded bets placed on Novak Djokovic to win the US Open tennis tournament. Djokovic was disqualified for hitting a line judge with the ball; he was trailing to Pablo Carreno Busta 6-5 beforehand.

DraftKings’ sportsbook expansion

So far in 2020, DraftKings has signed a number of partnerships with sports teams, media companies, and leagues to increase its exposure and strengthen its sportsbook offering across the US.

Earlier this month, the operator signed a new agreement with media network Turner Sports. The multiyear deal gives DraftKings exclusive sportsbook and daily fantasy sports provider rights across certain Turner Sports products, such as the Bleacher Report app and all Bleacher Report digital channels.

DraftKings also recently teamed up with the Philadelphia Eagles to serve as official sports betting and daily fantasy sports partner of the NFL team. As part of the deal, DraftKings secured exclusive naming rights to the premium club lounge Field Club at Lincoln Financial Field.