Jon Rahm Withdraws From Memorial: Why Some Sportsbooks Didn’t Pay Outright Bets as Winners

Jon Rahm Withdraws From Memorial: Why Some Sportsbooks Didn’t Pay Outright Bets as Winners article feature image
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Ben Jared/PGA TOUR. Pictured: Jon Rahm.

On Saturday Night, when Jon Rahm was forced to withdraw with a six-shot lead heading into the final round of the Memorial Tournament due to a positive COVID-19 test, sportsbooks whipped into action.

DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet immediately said that they would grade Rahm, 18 holes short, a winner. Some with more traditional Vegas history, BetMGM and William Hill, also said they would give anyone who had a bet on Rahm the win. Some offered money back in credits, others paying out just like Rahm had hoisted the trophy.

Many of the traditional Vegas books, the Superbook, the Circa and others, however, stuck to their house rules. Technically, Rahm withdrew and a withdrawal is a loss.

The grading of a win and a loss caused much debate on social media with gamblers taking positions over what was right and what was wrong.

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“Through the years, I’ve shied away from any payouts that involve subjectivity,” Circa’s Matt Metcalf tweeted. “It never leads to a good place long term from a customer perspective. That said, I am happy for people who received payment and can understand the perspective of those companies choosing to do so.”

While Circa is a relatively new player, the Vegas stalwarts have staunchly held to how they’ve always operated when it comes to grading what would be a traditional loser as a winner. The online sportsbooks, fighting for market share in an all-out battle, are undoubtedly looking to each other when there’s a bad beat, seeking to potentially use good will to lure in more customers and more deposits.

As more and more of it is done, more and more gamblers seem to expect it. At least anecdotally, complaints to sportsbooks on social media asking for bad beats to be refunded seem to be more common.

In a poll I posted on Twitter on Saturday night, 19% said they felt that the sportsbooks had to pay off the Rahm money, but there was still one-third of those who voted who thought it wasn’t right.

How do you feel about sportsbooks grading Jon Rahm as a winner since he had a six shot lead into the final when he was pulled?

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 6, 2021

Jay Kornegay, who has been at the Superbook in Vegas for 17 years, says he didn’t like how his book was being perceived in light of their decision to grade Rahm as a loss.

“I have no problem that other books are using this as a marketing opportunity,” Kornegay said. “But we shouldn’t be criticized for following our house rules. We consider our book to be a players book and that manifests itself in other ways such as pricing splits and odds.”

Kornegay said the most important thing for a book to do, in his eyes, is remain consistent.

“[James] Harden gets hurt 43 seconds in, should we refund that?” Kornegay asks. “Should we refund those who bet on Roger Federer because he withdrew [from the French Open] without really being hurt? On a daily basis, there are bad beats on both sides of the counter. You can make a case for something every day.”

While not having specific figures, the Memorial proved to be costly on a percentage basis alone for sportsbooks who paid out both Rahm and eventual winner Patrick Cantlay.

PointsBet said a third of its handle was on the two, BetMGM said 39% of the handle was on the pair, while DraftKings said Rahm and Cantlay only made up 24% of the money.

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