John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tua Tagovailoa
- FanDuel has decided to pay out all of its Alabama national title futures bets.
- The Crimson Tide are 13-point favorites to beat Georgia in Saturday's SEC Championship and -250 to win the 2019 College Football Playoff.
- The move will immediately cost FanDuel $40,000, and could potentially cost them $400,000 when it's all said and done.
Anyone who picked Alabama to win the national championship and bet it at a FanDuel-run sportsbook was paid at 5 p.m. ET on Friday — 38 days before the title game will be played.
The betting operator — which has a mobile app in the state of New Jersey and physical sportsbooks at the Meadowlands in New Jersey and The Greenbrier in West Virginia — decided to prematurely award the Crimson Tide with the title.
Paying out a futures bet before it actually cashes has long been a tradition in Europe to generate publicity and attention for sportsbooks.
“We want to be known as being bettor friendly and it’s nice to make a little history here in the United States,” said FanDuel Group chief marketing officer Mike Raffensperger in an interview with The Action Network. “We’re doing this promotion to reward our customers and to promote dialogue.”
Raffensperger said awarding Alabama with the win will immediately cost FanDuel $40,000, but could potentially cost them $400,000, when adding up all the parlays still alive that have Alabama to win the title in them.
FanDuel has Alabama as a 13-point favorite over Georgia in Saturday’s SEC Championship game and has even figured the Crimson Tide to be an 8-point favorite in a projected National Championship Game against Clemson.
The promotion comes as FanDuel ramps up in the most competitive state for legalized sports betting, New Jersey. Its daily fantasy competitor, DraftKings, was the first to launch a mobile app in the state, where there are now eight mobile sportsbooks, and took nearly 70% of the market in the early going.
Raffensperger said that FanDuel made good progress in online and mobile revenue in New Jersey from September to October, jumping by two and half times in total handle.
“New Jersey is the No. 1 stop on a long line,” Raffensperger said. “This is the kind of fun that can happen in an open regulated, legal commercial market. And we love doing it.”
FanDuel officials had to check with regulators in the states (New Jersey and West Virginia) to make sure a promotion where the payout happened before a result would be legal.