Seven seconds may not seem like a long time. But earlier this month, however, it proved an incredibly painful duration for several casinos and sportsbooks.
A wild chain of events began when information leaked minutes before January 9th’s NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Golden State forward Draymond Green was expected to play, but experienced calf muscle tightness during pre-game warmups. Later MRI scans determined that the problem is originating in Green’s back.
Normally, this would’ve been enough to sideline him for the contest. However, Green insisted on being in the starting lineup. This was the first game for teammate Klay Thompson since suffering a devastating injury during the 2019 NBA Finals.
Nine minutes before the game, the Warriors reported Green would be on the court for the opening tip, but would not participate in the rest of the game. He wound up on the floor for, you guessed it, seven seconds. Green committed a foul, went to the bench, and did not check back into the game. Despite his absence, Golden State won, 96-82.
Sportsbooks and casinos investigate “known event” impacts
Sportsbooks usually pull statistical wagering on players after information like this gets out. However, there was a bit of a lag, one that some bettors took full advantage of. They bet every Draymond Green “under” they could find in categories like points, assists, and rebounds. Given that he barely played, these proved to be worthwhile investments.
ESPN reported sportsbooks’ total liability on these wagers at seven figures, and a number of them paid out promptly. DraftKings Sportsbook, however, released a statement the day after the game and said bet settlements were on hold pending an investigation. They attempted to determine whether or not the wagers placed after news of Green’s injury leaked out were on a “known event.”
That investigation didn’t last long, and blowback for the statement was harsh. Under bettors were paid out on Tuesday, Jan. 11, two days after the game in question, and cash refunds were issued to over bettors.
Advocates press for sportsbook approval in the Golden State
No such action, however, was available to residents of the Golden State, where sports betting remains illegal. This includes gambling on the outcomes of single games or prop bets on player statistics, like the ones at the center of this bizarre story.
Wagering on sports in California is only available in the daily fantasy realm. Contests on FanDuel and DraftKings enjoy widespread popularity. And sites such as PrizePicks (which specialize in stats-based parlays) are trying to gain footholds as well. Additionally, betting on horse racing is legal for California residents 18 years of age or older. Horse race betting is available on-track or through advanced deposit wagering platforms including TVG, TwinSpires, and XpressBet.
Efforts to legalize sports betting in America’s most populous state have become quite the saga. Stakeholders including casinos, card rooms, Native American tribes, and online sportsbooks have put forth various legislation. The earliest any of those measures could come to a vote would be November of this year. In the meanwhile, these entities are hard at work, attempting to capitalize on a proverbial gold mine.