Bettors Received “Money-Back Guarantee” On Penn State-IU Game

Posted on October 27, 2020

A controversial Indiana University football win may have resulted in a loss for some bettors in Indiana, but not for long. Because the game’s deciding play was so close, certain Indiana sportsbook apps opted to refund some wagers for the Penn State-Indiana matchup.

Whether an outstretched ball in the hands of Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. actually broke the plane of the end zone before hitting the ground is up for debate. It is hard to tell even with slow-motion replays.

For the operators, refunding the bets may prove worth the cost in this situation.

Why was the Indiana football win so controversial?

Penix has a reputation for being one of the most dynamic players on IU’s offense. He certainly added to that with a two-point conversion run to give the Hoosiers an overtime 35-34 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions last Saturday.

Penn State came into the game ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press poll. The Nittany Lions were heavy favorites, but things started to go awry when the team failed to convert what should have been a chip-shot field goal at the end of the first half.

Penix made it difficult on the sideline judge as well with his game-winning run. See if you can tell whether the ball breaks the plane before he hits the ground.

Because Penn State had already possessed the ball in the overtime session, the game ended at that point. Officials did review the play, and could not see sufficient evidence to overturn the call on the field, so it stood.

In response, sportsbooks across the country refunded some wagers.

DraftKings, for example, refunded all pre-game bets on the Penn State moneyline. DraftKings bettors who used the moneyline on the Nittany Lions in parlays, or placed bets on the moneyline after the game started, however, took the loss.

FanDuel did the same thing, giving pre-game moneyline bettors their money back. While the sportsbooks would have been within their rights to keep the money, the move equates to an effort to maintain good customer relations.

Why it makes “cents” for the sportsbooks to give refunds

Outside of just potentially saving their customer service personnel some headaches in not having to deal with disgruntled bettors, this move is about maintaining market share. Customer loyalty is a key component.

A bad experience could push bettors to competitors, even if the sportsbook really wasn’t in the wrong. It’s not clear how much action any of these books took on the Penn State moneyline pre-game, but it likely wasn’t a huge number if they decided to refund bets so easily and quickly.

The truth is that DraftKings and FanDuel operate at a loss anyway. This comes from spending more than they bring in on offering competitive odds and promos. The end goal is the same: to become the dominant operator in the markets.

Instances like this are rare, so keeping customers coming back is worth this expense. All Indiana sportsbooks would still prefer it if, in the future, Penix would score game-winning touchdowns in a more decisive manner, however.

Photo by Associated Press
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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