We are almost at the close of September and the prototypical fall weather is beginning to burst forth from a warm Michigan Summer. Unfortunately, as a Detroit Lions fan, the players featured in Honolulu Blue seem to be stuck in an icy, frozen rut. The Detroit Lions currently sit at an 0-3 record after a last-ditch, record-breaking, 66-yard field goal by Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker. This week featured no shortage of bizarre and fun performances. Matthew Stafford, a former Lion, led the Los Angeles Rams to a sound victory over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In another surprising upset, the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Los Angeles Chargers. Finally, the Las Vegas Raiders narrowly secured a victory against the Miami Dolphins in overtime. These sorts of record-breaking and unpredictable performances precipitate unique consequences in the NFL have a significant impact on those that place wagers on the games.
Michigan legalized sports betting in late 2019. Since that time, the advertisements on Sundays are dominated by gambling options from FanDuel, DraftKings, MGM and others looking to break into the Michigan market. The commercials allude to the ease of use and the potential winnings. However, imagine that you placed that bet with an online app, which gave the Lions 7.5 points (+7.5), and then, when the game concluded, the app switched from the Lions as the 7.5-point underdog to the Ravens (-7.5) and avoided paying you your winnings. Not only would your favorite team, the Detroit Lions, have lost, but the silver lining (winning your sports bet) would also be taken away.
In early 2021, a Michigan resident (“Plaintiff”) placed a bet on DraftKings app on the Boston Bruins against the New York Rangers. According to his Complaint, not only did he capture screenshots of the odds, (which were Bruins +3) but he also contacted customer service before the game to confirm his bet and the payout. He bet $915 on the game with a total payout of $5,586.00. Eventually, the Bruins won the game in overtime, meaning that he expected the payout. However, when Plaintiff logged into the app to check his earnings, the app switched the spread and read Bruins (-3) instead of Bruins (+3). DraftKings stated that the spread was displayed incorrectly and offered to refund the wager plus offer $50.00 in a free future wager. Plaintiff followed up with DraftKings who then, as he reports in his Complaint, locked his account in retaliation. The suit also postulates that others are similarly situated against DraftKings and that the case may qualify for Class Action status.
Given that this case was only filed in May, in Federal Court, and the extent of the potential “class” of Plaintiffs has yet to be determined, we are watching how this matter will progress and what sort of regulatory effects it may have on Michigan’s new(er) sports gambling laws.