One of the biggest sports stories of the weekend was the withdrawal by Jon Rahm from the PGA Memorial Tournament after testing positive for COVID-19.
Rahm forfeited a potential $1.6 million payout if he won the tournament. While Rahm didn’t win money, several bettors did thanks to good-faith gestures from sports betting platforms.
What Happened: With a six-stroke lead at -18 through three days of play, Rahm was told he had to withdraw from the tournament after testing positive.
On Sunday, Patrick Cantlay won the tournament beating Collin Morikawa in a playoff and a score of -13.
The major sports betting apps paid out Rahm as a winner, meaning anyone who bet on Rahm to be the outright winner were still rewarded even with his early withdrawal.
William Hill, which was acquired by Caesars Entertainment Inc CZR graded Rahm as a full winner.
One bettor with William Hill placed a $3,000 bet on Rahm to win The Memorial. The bettor was paid out at the 12-1 odds and won $36,000.
Draftkings Inc DKNG, Pointsbet, Flutter Entertainment's PDYPY FanDuel and BetMGM, a joint venture of MGM Resorts International MGM and Entain ADR GMVHY all graded Rahm’s withdrawal as a winning bet according to Action Network's Darren Rovell.
Some of the legacy Las Vegas casinos declared Rahm’s early withdrawal as a loser. The director of Circa Sports Sportsbook took to Twitter to respond to Rovell explaining why Circa graded Rahm as a loss to bettors.
“I’ve shied away from any payouts that involve subjectivity. It never leads to a good place long term from a customer perspective,” Matthew Metcalf said.
Why It’s Important: In the competitive world of sports betting, the top companies compete to get more users and often do good faith payouts when bets are close or there is a significant event that causes some bets to lose.
Examples include when a three-point shot is scored with no time in a basketball game which changes the spread of the game or a player such as NBA player James Harden getting hurt one minute into a game.
In the case of Rahm, betting sites faced an unusual event given the COVID-19 pandemic and Rahm’s significant lead over the competition. The sports betting players are hoping to retain customers through marketing promotions like this.
When Naomi Osaka dropped out of the French Open, several sports betting companies like DraftKings and FanDuel refunded bets with free play vouchers. The difference was the tournament had just begun and Osaka had odds of +1200.
Sports betting companies could continue to face pressure to refund and payout some bets as winners to retain customers, which ultimately could hurt profitability.
(Photo: Jon Rahm via Callaway Golf)
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