Controversial Finish to DraftKings National Sports Betting Tournament

On Sunday, in New Jersey, the Draftkings National Sports Betting Contest ended in controversial fashion when the leading bettor on Day 3 was unable to make his wager before the final game of the DK contest began.

The game in question was the NFC divisional-round game between the New Orleans Saints versus the Philadelphia Eagles and the controversy stemmed around DK not crediting the leader’s winnings in time to make the next bet.

DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship

This was the first ever DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship and it was a three-day event headquartered in the Garden State. The event took place in a fairly nondescript building in Jersey City. The venue held tables, chairs, couches, and dozens of TVs. There were also two open bars and lots of excitement and, ultimately, disappointment.

Over 200 participants from all over the country paid the $10,000 buy-in and all-together, wagered over $5 million during the event. The problem came when the leader before the final game in the contest couldn’t place his bets.

Rufus Peabody, playing under the username Opti5624, was ahead in the contest going into the Saints-Eagles game with almost $82,000 bankroll that he gathered after winning an all-in bet on the Patriots covering their spread.

The high-scoring AFC divisional-round game ended at 4:37 pm EST, with only four minutes to go before the Saints game started. Peabody had to wait for his winnings from the Patriots bet to be credited to his account before he could make his last, all-in bet to end the contest.

The difficulty arose when Peabody’s winnings weren’t credited to his account until after he was locked out of making his final bet.

According to ESPN, Peabody was a little peeved, to say the least, to find out that some players received their credits before Peabody, which allowed them to get their final bets registered. Here’s what Peabody had to say about what happened to him:

“I had spent the last 2.5 hours running over all the numbers. And, as it goes at the end, I was going back and forth: ‘Which one am I going to do? Am I going to pull the trigger?’ It was going to be a Saints game of one kind or the under. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance.”

Rufus Peabody is a former ESPN employee and the co-founder of the football analytics site Massey-Peabody. He posted a screenshot to his Twitter, showing that his DraftKings contest account had a balance of $0.01 as the game started. No more bets were accepted after the NFC game started.

Several other players didn’t get their credits from previous winnings until after the game kicked-off, also preventing them from placing their bets.

Peabody ended up going home with over $330,000. He said that he enjoyed the format of the contest overall, and understands it was difficult for everyone who had problems placing their bets. He declined to discuss whether or not he had contacted a lawyer.

The winner of the first DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship was a person with the username rleejr86 who took home the $1 million first-prize with his final bet of $47,500 on the Eagles +8.5. The Saints won 20-14 but the Eagles won the spread, which increased rleerjr86’s bankroll to $101,474, winning the contest.

What DraftKings Has to Say

James Chisolm, a spokesperson for DraftKings, put out the following public statement:

“We recognize that in the rules the scheduled end of betting [kickoff of the NFC divisional-round game] coincided very closely to the finish of the Patriots-Chargers game. While we must follow our contest rules, we sincerely apologize for the experiences several customers had where their bets were not graded in time to allow wagering on the Saints-Eagles game. We will learn from this experience and improve upon the rules and experience for future events.”

DraftKings didn’t respond when asked why some players had their accounts credited their winnings from the Chargers-Patriots game before betting on the next game closed while others didn’t receive their credits until it was too late.

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Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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