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Warriors NBA Title Odds Boost Results in $1 Million Liability for DraftKings

May 15, 2019 7:15 AM EDT
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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30), Houston Rockets guards Chris Paul (3) and James Harden (13).

  • For a 10.5-hour period on Tuesday, DraftKings offered the Golden State Warriors at +514 to win the 2019 NBA title, a significant boost from the normal odds of -155.
  • If the Warriors win the championship, the sportsbook will pay out more than $1 million in winning tickets from the promotion.

Sportsbooks battling in the highly competitive New Jersey market have spent a good deal of their marketing budget either refunding bettors who lost on an unlucky bounce or giving bettors odds boosts, in which the sportsbooks promote, for a limited time, odds on a bet that are much more favorable than what they’d normally offer.

The latest example came on Tuesday, when DraftKings, celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court overturning the federal ban on sports betting, moved the odds of the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA title from -155 to +514.

The odds boost, which some of Twitter thought was a mistake, lasted from 10:30 a.m. ET to 8:01 p.m., the end time a nod to Aug. 1, 2018, the date DraftKings became the first mobile sportsbook to begin operating in New Jersey.

Jamie Shea, head of the digital sportsbook for DraftKings, told The Action Network on Tuesday night that more than 10,000 bettors took advantage of the promotion. The total collective liability from all the Warriors to win bets made during that 10.5-hour window on Tuesday represents more than $1 million, Shea said.

“We’re happy it got the attention it did,” Shea said. “It was something we planned to celebrate the anniversary today and to give back to our customers.”

This isn’t the first time DraftKings, which is in a head-to-head battle with FanDuel in New Jersey, has made a splash with a big odds boost. The company offered Tiger Woods at 10-1 headed into Masters Sunday, a significant jump from normal odds of +350. The promotion cost the sportsbook more than $1 million.

“We’re proud of our product,” Shea said. “I don’t think the promotion we did with the Warriors, and other promotions we do is a race to the bottom.”

Shea said it’s company policy not to disclose what the limit was on the Warriors bet, but that limits differ from customer to customer depending on many factors.

Some bettors reported only being able to wager $51, while another person was able to get down $100 to net $514.

DraftKings also gave away more than $150,000 in free bets, as Shea said more than 30,000 people participated in the sportsbook’s promotion on Tuesday to sign in to get a free $5.14 to honor the date (5/14) that PASPA got overturned.

Since last August, DraftKings has taken more than 17 million bets in New Jersey and returned $525 million to bettors. It is not known if the sportsbook portion of DraftKings’ business is profitable, but Shea said she is happy with their margins.

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