Tiger Woods threw up his arms and joined a jubilant Masters crowd in celebrating his win Sunday, easing 14 years of injury- and scandal-related frustration since his last win at Augusta. But while Woods roared and his fans went wild, the burgeoning American sportsbook industry felt like it just hit one in the water.
Bettors liked Woods and sportsbooks lost big.
And somewhere another guy might have been celebrating even more than Woods.
'Tiger Effect Is Real'
Last Tuesday, a bettor walked into the William Hill PL/ADR WIMHY sportsbook at the SLS Casino in Las Vegas and put $85,000 down on an improbable Woods comeback culminating in a Masters win, at 14-1 odds.
The ticket will pay out $1.19 million.
Everything seemed to go right for Woods on the final day of the Masters as his competitors ran into trouble. And it all seemed to go wrong for sportsbooks as the comeback story proved a strong pull.
On Friday, Woods was the most popular bet at DraftKings, which has a sportsbook in New Jersey, according to PlayNJ. Bettors were also getting caught up in the Woods story at other sportsbooks.
"The Tiger effect is real,” Mike Raffesnperger, chief marketing officer at FanDuel Group, said in a statement.
And oddsmakers underestimated him: most sportsbooks were offering odds of about 13 or 14-1 on a Woods win.
William Hill said the $1.19-million ticket represents its biggest golf loss. “It’s a painful day for William Hill — our biggest golf loss ever — but a great day for golf,” U.S. Director of Trading Nick Bogdanovich said in a statement.
FanDuel Sportsbook said it paid out more than $3 million on the Woods win. It also lost money because it ran a refund promotion for fantasy golf customers.
While golf fans were watching the drama of Woods heading toward the final hole with an eye on history, people who follow sports betting were also watching closely for financial reasons.
“This is why the sports betting community is collectively freaking out right now,” tweeted Howard Stutz, executive editor of the CDC Gaming Reports gambling news wire, as the tension mounted down the stretch Sunday.
William Hill said its next-biggest win on Woods was a $33,800 payout owed to a bettor who put down $2,600 on a Woods win on April 1 at 13-1.
FanDuel, owned by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair, tried to spin its loss as a positive.
“Tiger’s historic win today has cemented him as one of the most iconic figures in sports and we congratulate him on his tremendous achievement," Raffensberger said in the company's statement. "We’re even happier for our customers who today have over three million reasons to believe there are more ways to win on FanDuel!”
William Hill’s OTC shares were down 1.19 percent at $8.71 at the time of publication.
Photo by pocketwiley/Wikimedia.
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