Conveniently located in the heart of bustling Bergen County, a drive of mere minutes from the most populated city in all the U.S., and just a hop, skip, and a jump away from towering MetLife Stadium, the newly-minted FanDuel sportsbook at the Meadowlands had just about everything working for it.
Brand recognition? Check.
Association with the premier name in harness racing? Check.
Sports bar that practically smacks patrons in the face as they walk through the main entrance? Check!
Ties to one of the biggest forces in international sports betting? Double check.
Then it posted its lines. Whether it be due to its unfamiliarity with the sports betting market, corporate greed, or simply because there are currently no other legal betting options within 50 miles, the FanDuel sportsbook posted opening day lines that would have Billy Walters asking for a longer stay at Pensacola Federal Prison Camp.
Forget two dimes, FanDuel scoffed at would-be bettors. Try three, and more!
Luckily, we live in an age where Twitter is a thing, and while we can’t say for certain that the ire of disgruntled tweeters is what prompted a change of heart from FanDuel, the immediacy with which the operator altered its second-day lines (for the better) suggests that keyboard warriors had an impact.
But there’s still a long way to go before bettors will be as comfortable betting in northern New Jersey as they would at a Las Vegas book.
The image seen all around the Twittersphere
It didn’t take long for bettors to catch wind of the poor odds circulating around the newly converted Victory Sports Bar & Club. That’s because there was this oh-so-small event called the World Cup final on the horizon, and the posted money line for it at the FanDuel sportsbook was nothing short of miserable.
-265 France/+175 Croatia.
Patrons quickly captured the image and posted it on Twitter, some adding their own sarcastic musings regarding the insane money line:
Hey just a heads up, there’s an obviously fake photo going around that shows you dealing -265/+175 on the winner of the World Cup final. Has to be photoshopped, nobody would ever charge that much vig on the WC final (or on anything ever LOL) pic.twitter.com/kXUCWhOtiF
— NOT cLuELeSs (@slmPLyDiGGsAGAi) July 14, 2018
Admittedly, the line isn’t quite as bad as it might look, as the bet specifies “Lift the Cup,” meaning draws are discounted. But it’s still a far cry from the -240/+200 William Hill at Monmouth Park was offering on the same wager.
Two dimes too many
All right, so perhaps FanDuel made a solitary mistake, and the MLB odds for the July 14 games would be perfectly in line with Vegas. Nope, not even close.
ESPN Chalk writer David Purdum was among the most influential forces in the sports betting world to break the bad news to bettors, along with a simple message:
Yikes. FanDuel vig at the Meadowlands is steep. pic.twitter.com/2AFadfdA1n
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) July 14, 2018
A close look reveals what’s known as a three dimes line (the larger the amount of dimes, the worse the bet) on totals, compared to an industry standard of one dime lines on such bets. In two instances, the FanDuel book posted 3.5 dime lines, which is venturing off into the land of ludicrous.
It took all of one day for FanDuel to do an about face on its MLB totals, which were 15 and 20 cents across the board on Sunday. Not great, but it at least represents a movement toward greener pastures for bettors.
Thanks to the All-Star break, the operator will have a few days to examine its MLB algorithm and digest the hundreds upon hundreds of angry social media responses to its launch day fiasco.
NFL Week 1 point spread lines are the standard -110, as even FanDuel knows it would have been suicide to diverge from what has been the gold standard in NFL lines for years (although it is possible to find -105). So at least there’s that.
Cause for concern?
FanDuel messed up, and at least to a degree, appears to be owning it. Based on that alone, there’s reason to believe we’ll all be laughing about the operator’s major faux pas by the time the Giants field their first kickoff this NFL season.
Not to mention, the proliferation of mobile and online sports betting in New Jersey and surrounding states will create a more competitive landscape, where bettors will be able to shop around from the comfort of their own home, on the bus, or while waiting on line at the grocery store.
Then again, if FanDuel is factoring in the 8.5% tax rate on land-based sports betting in New Jersey as the main reason behind its pricing, this could mean trouble for the legal sports industry. Reason being, online books in NJ will be forced to fork over 14%, and other states may pay even higher taxes. Pennsylvania bettors in particular could get an exceedingly bad deal, as the effective tax rate on sports betting in the Keystone State will hover around 41%.
In either case, it’s paramount that we do not accept the sort of highway robbery FanDuel went live with. By remaining silent, we are passively encouraging bettors to remain on offshore books and/or deal with corner bookies. In turn, sports books around the country may end up looking like the FanDuel book did early evening on Sunday:
The bottom line: When a book messes up, let them know on Twitter. It may very well just listen.