The new FanDuel sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey came under criticism after Tuesday's game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies went into extra innings and didn't end until after the book had closed, preventing bettors who had hung around after hours from getting paid on the spot.
The Phillies defeated the Dodgers 7-4 in 16 innings. The game ended at approximately 1:15 a.m. ET Wednesday, after the book's vault had locked and was unable to be accessed. A group of approximately 10 bettors were told by a book supervisor that they would need to return later in the afternoon to get their winnings.
"The FanDuel sportsbook's business hours of operation last night were to 1 a.m., as clearly posted throughout the facility," a FanDuel spokesperson said in a statement. "Once 1 a.m. hits, our cages are closed. We cannot take wagers or pay out wagers after that time. To be clear, there was no issue with cash on hand. All customers are welcome to return today to collect any winnings, or to mail in any winning tickets for payment."
The book's posted hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement declined comment.
Eric, a bettor from Atlanta who was at the Meadowlands on Tuesday and asked to be identified by only his first name, said he was among the group of bettors who waited until the Dodgers-Phillies game ended and attempted to cash winning tickets.
"Everyone went to cash out and they were like, 'Sorry, we're out of money, it's in the vault,'" Eric told ESPN on Wednesday morning. "They basically said to come back tomorrow and you'll get your payout."
The book had the money but couldn't access it after hours.
Eric said he was owed $340 from his unpaid tickets and was flying back to Atlanta on Wednesday. He added that some of the other bettors were wagering much larger amounts than he had and were upset when they were told that they were not going to get paid immediately.
"Everyone kind of left disgruntled," Eric said.
The sportsbook at the Meadowlands opened July 14, a month after New Jersey put in place its sports betting regulations and two months after the United States Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on state-sponsored sports betting.
Games ending later than the hours of operation are part of the growing pains that new sportsbooks located in the Eastern Time zone are trying to figure out. The sportsbook at the Monmouth Park racetrack in New Jersey, which also closes at 1 a.m. weekdays and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, has taken a day-by-day approach when games run long, according to track official Dennis Drazin.
"What we've been doing is if a game is close to being over and there are enough people still watching in the book, we'll stay open for them," Drazin said. "Now, if there are only a couple people in the book and the game lasts way past closing time, they may be asked to come back the following day to cash their tickets."
A lot of the issue will be rectified in the coming months, when online sports betting launches in New Jersey. No official launch date has been announced. FanDuel, which began as a daily fantasy operator, was purchased by European bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair this year and will be the company's sportsbook brand in the U.S.
The FanDuel sportsbook at the Meadowlands also drew criticism from bettors for the vigorish (or juice) it charged on its baseball odds during the first days it was open. Traditionally, American bookmakers have charged at most a 20-cent vig on baseball, meaning, for example, a favorite may be listed at -140, while the underdog only pays back +120.
During the opening weekend, FanDuel charged as much as a 30-cent vig on baseball. With some exceptions, the prices on baseball have settled back toward more traditional vig in recent days at the Meadowlands.
"We are working with a temporary setup as we prepare to have full use of our global risk and trading capabilities by the end of the summer," a FanDuel spokesperson told ESPN in a statement. "In the meantime, we are continuously monitoring our odds to ensure they are the most competitive and offer the best value for all of our customers, including the several enhanced price 'happy hour' promotions we've run for the past week."
Despite the early issues, bettors wagered nearly $3.5 million in the first nine days the Meadowlands sportsbook was open, according to The Associated Press.
ESPN staff writer Kieran Darcy contributed to this report.