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DraftKings Online Sports Betting Contest Ends In Controversy

Poker Dealer Scores $1 Million, While Some Contestants Were Unable To Place Bets On Final Game Of Contest

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Randy ‘rleejr86’ Lee, a poker dealer from New Jersey, won the first-ever DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship this past weekend, but the victory came with some controversy on the event’s final day.

Lee defeated the 260-entry field, who all put up $10,000, to take home the $1 million first-place money, along with the $101,474.02 that he won with the picks he made over the three-day competition. The entire competition was run on the DraftKings mobile sports app, which is currently only available in New Jersey.

The $10,000 needed to enter was comprised of the $5,000 entry fee and a $5,000 bankroll used to bet the games. On Friday and Saturday, contestants were allowed to bet on whatever they wanted. On Sunday, they were only allowed to bet on the final two NFL playoff games of the season. Whatever their bankroll was at the end of the weekend, they would get to take home themselves.

Due to a glitch in the software on Sunday, some players did not have their tickets graded from the New England Patriots-Los Angeles Chargers game in time for them to bet on the Philadelphia Eagles-New Orleans Saints afternoon matchup.

Rufus Peabody, a professional sports bettor who played under the handle ‘Opti5624,’ was one of the players affected by this glitch and was unable to make a final bet. He ended up finishing in third-place for $250,000, but if he had been allowed to bet the final game, he would’ve likely won the event.

“I had spent the last 2.5 hours running over all the numbers,” said Peabody to ESPN. “And as it goes at the end, I was going back and forth: ‘Which one am I going to do? Am I going to pull the trigger?’ It was going to be a Saints bet of some kind or the under. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance.”

In response to the outrage on social media, DraftKings issued a statement:

“The first ever Sports Betting National Championship was an incredibly thrilling event. We recognize that in the rules the scheduled end of betting coincided very closely to the finish of the Patriots-Chargers game. While we must follow our contest rules, we sincerely apologize for the experience several customers had where their bets were not graded in time to allow wagering on the Saints-Eagles game. We will learn from this experience and improve upon the rules and experience for future events.”

DraftKings has its mobile sports betting app available in New Jersey and one land-based sportsbook at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, along with a sportsbook at the Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville, Mississippi. They have partnered with Penn National Gaming and will be rolling out its mobile app in West Virginia, along with a sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races later this month.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement is reviewing the incident.