DraftKings’ So-Called Sports Betting National Championship Mired In Controversy

Sports Betting National ChampionshipWhat makes for a successful punter?

You might think that it’s all about the sweet moolah, the fruits of your labour. Others like to promote ROI, yield and other numerical measures as symbols of betting brilliance.

But if you really want to prove your merits as a punter, you could always enter the Sports Betting National Championship.

It sounds a bit madcap, really, given that successful wagering tends to be a long-term grind rather than a one-off show of everything going right on the day.

Nevertheless, the American sportsbook DraftKings has come up with the novel idea of crowning a betting national champion, and amid the hype and furore of such a concept there is some very real prizes to be won – the winner trousering a helpful $1 million, plus the profits from each of the qualifying bets.

There’s a catch, aside from the fact the 2021 event has already happened. You’ll need to stump up $10,000 to enter, with half going to fund the leaderboard prizes and the other 50% acting as your bankroll across the three-day tournament.

Oh, and the other stumbling block seems to be that DraftKings couldn’t organise the proverbial in a brewery, but more on that shortly.

What is the Sports Betting National Championship?

Designed primarily as a marketing tool for DraftKings, the Sports Betting National Championship is designed to attract the interest of those wanting to be crowned with such a title.

Punters in the US could enter the tournament via any of the states that DK operates in – Arizona, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and so on, and they would earn points for all of the winning bets they placed on the NFL, NBA and college football. All qualifying wagers had to be struck via the DraftKings sportsbook, naturally.

A leaderboard was created, and for the 2021 edition the victor was the individual with the most points when the tournament closed on November 7.

The winner was a lady or gentleman going by the soubriquet ‘Tuso323’, who performed the remarkable feat of turning their $5,000 kitty into $169,747 in the space of just 72 hours….and with just six wagers placed.

Of that haul, the vast majority came from just one accumulator – $24,900 rolled into that $169,747 bounty:

  • Jacksonville Jaguars +14.5 points
  • Jaguars/Buffalo Bills under 49 points
  • Denver Broncos +6.5 points

Reaching the Limits

For the Sports Betting National Championship to be a fair contest, all of the entrants should be able to bet as much as they want of their $5,000 bankroll on any given selection.

However, the problem – as many punters will attest – is that the bookies in different regions aren’t always happy to take your bets, and some players in the contest were rather annoyed at not being able to get on.

Also, the firm’s online sportsbook crashed in some states – meaning that entrants in those areas were at a significant disadvantage.

One of the other ‘issues’ is that, after a quick calculation, it was revealed that DraftKings pocketed $1.2 million in overlays – the amount of entrance fees not used in the prize money pool. A nice weekend’s work if you can get it.

Red-Faced Return

Having acknowledged the problems that some entrants faced in getting bets on, DraftKings did the honourable thing.

They completely refunded or ‘made whole’ each participants $10,000 fee, meaning that at the very least each contestant walked away in the same position as they started the contest.

It has been reported that DraftKings lost a whopping $4.7 million. That’s primarily from the fact that they had to refund a lot of players, while also accepting the liability of a large number of sharp punters taking them on with heavy pockets.

Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen, and so far DK themselves have been quiet on the subject. But if it’s true, then the Sports Betting National Championship will probably die a death accordingly….or at least return perhaps with all entrants at the same physical sportsbook, to prevent tech woes and the like.

In theory, a world championship for bettors is a pretty unique idea….but one, as DraftKings have found to their cost, that is a lot more difficult to run than you might think.