The DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship 2021 was supposed to be a victory lap for the company, after the inaugural 2019 event was marred by controversy and ended in a lawsuit.
Alas, it was not to be, as the weekend-long event kicked off Friday night in Weehawken, N.J. — as well as in 10 other states, remotely — with exactly the kind of drama the company was hoping to avoid.
In a nutshell: Some contestants were able to get down whatever bets they wanted, while others found themselves limited and unable to place a bet even for $1.
I cannot make a bet for the contest?? Not even $1 pic.twitter.com/VF0Ni7vost
— jerry-shoebox (@jjss64) November 5, 2021
I love Draftkings and I always will.
But this Sports Betting National Championship has been an absolute embarrassment and disaster.
You have been unable to bet College Football for 2 hours. And you were unable to bet NBA for over an hour.
— Nick | WTA 👑 (@KoreanInAKayak) November 6, 2021
Prominent members of the gambling community were calling on DraftKings to stick a fork in the whole affair.
You need to cancel this tournament, @DKSportsbook. https://t.co/e88nJxyzku
— Captain Jack Andrews (@capjack2000) November 6, 2021
Despite all the troubles, the event continued on, and as of 10:40 a.m. Saturday, “Tdunns” was sitting in first place for the million dollar prize, having run his $5,000 stake (another $4,500 goes to the prize pool, and $500 to DraftKings’ coffers) to nearly $30,000 by betting a quartet of NBA player props last night and winning them all, including in a series of parlays and round robins.
But clearly, there was woe in Weehawken. Until …
Johnny to the rescue
Early Saturday morning, Johnny Avello, the director of the DraftKings sportsbook, sat down with VSiN and announced a shocking development on two fronts: First up, all contestants would be “made whole.”
“If you went bust last night, and you’re out of money, you’re out of the contest,” Avello said. “But we’re going to give your $10,000 back. If you’re still in the contest with money, you continue to play today … if you win more than $10,000 you will certainly keep that and be eligible for any prize money. But let’s say your bankroll is $6,000 and you’re finished, we’ll make you whole by giving you $4,000, that’s your $10,000 back.”
This morning on @VSiNLive #PointSpreadSaturday LIVE from @DKSportsbook #SBNC Sportsbook Director Johnny Avello joined for an update and decision on the contest after the first night…“wanted to make customers whole”.
Full details here… pic.twitter.com/ZwbGmuNjBr
— VSiN (@VSiNLive) November 6, 2021
In short: Everyone, win or lose, is getting their $10,000 entry fee back.
The second item, which is bound to aggravate plenty of people: The contest is now closed. Originally, DraftKings was going to allow entries up until 6 p.m. Saturday, and an untold number of gamblers were undoubtedly waiting to see what the leaderboard looked like before deciding to fire their entries.
The contest runs through Sunday, with all bets needing to be made by 1 p.m., and the last action anyone can wager on is the 6 p.m. slate of NBA games.