As a sports bettor, the last thing you want is to get your wager voided. Imagine your disappointment when the one prop you feel strongly about won’t be resolved because the bookkeeper canceled your bet.
However, it’s different when you know your bets weren’t supposed to have been accepted in the first place. That’s what 59 customers had to contend with when their bets were voided by Penn Sports Interactive back in September. But the bigger question is: how and why did that happen?
Let’s look at how bettors were able to place bets after the outcome was already decided, leading Penn Sports Interactive to void their wagers.
On September 17, Penn Sports’ Barstool Sports app received 257 wagers across ten different markets for the Giants vs Cardinals NFL game. All of the wagers totaled $47,759.94.
However, the main issue was that these wagers were placed up to 90 minutes after the game’s conclusion. It took a while for Penn Sports to notice the problems; once they did, they took note of the problematic wagers, voided them, and did not issue any payments.
A few days later, Penn Sports officially requested the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to void these 257 wagers. In their request, they outlined how the issue happened and enabled bettors to place prop bets despite the game’s conclusion.
What caused the issue?
According to Penn Sports’ official documents, these voided wagers resulted from a cascade of events before and during the NFL game.
The primary cause is a data problem from odds provider Swish Analytics. According to Penn Sports’ investigation, Swish could only handle wagers based on whole numbers. Any bets containing fractions or decimals slowed down the system as it tried to understand the inputs. In the meantime, it allowed players to place bets as Swish’s system attempted to handle the backlog.
The secondary cause is a latency issue from the sports trading platform “Vegas.” The platform could not handle a significant surge of activity when the late afternoon games kicked off at about 4:15 p.m. This delay meant the displays showed outdated information, allowing bettors to wager on something that should’ve closed already.
What is Penn Sports doing to prevent this from happening again?
According to their filing with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, they released an emergency fix that addresses the data issue with Swish Analytics. They have also committed to upgrading and enhancing their backend systems to prevent such latency issues from happening again. Their partner vendors should be able to handle decimal props without any problems while displaying live information without delay.
How did this saga conclude?
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission was happy with Penn Sports’ honesty and introspection about the issue, so they officially voided the 257 problematic wagers. The problem hasn’t happened again, but it remains to be seen whether Penn Sports’ emergency fixes and upgrades are enough to prevent this from happening again.