Soccer bets, unpaid, under review in New Jersey, Indiana

Frankie Amaya and Yuya Kubo celebrate Amaya's goal in FC Cincinnati's 1-0 win over Atlanta United on July 16. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Gaming regulators in multiple states have been examining dozens of soccer bets that sportsbook FanDuel has withheld payment on for weeks, leaving bettors frustrated and without their initial stakes and winnings since mid-July.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has been reviewing the matter. The dispute is centered on the odds FanDuel offered and whether the prices posted were the result of an error by the bookmaker.

Beginning around July 12 and lasting until July 15, bettors in Indiana and New Jersey targeted games in MLS, the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A. In total, tens of thousands of dollars were wagered on the games over four days with a potential payout of more than $200,000. Almost all the bets were won, but bettors told ESPN on Monday that they had not been paid or refunded the amounts they wagered.

The majority of the 50-plus bets made in New Jersey were parlays, placed online. However, at least two of the wagers were made over the counter at the FanDuel sportsbook at the Meadowlands.

Daniel Leavey, a 29-year-old from Long Island, New York, visited the sportsbook at the Meadowlands with his father on July 12. On one of the video screens displaying the odds, Leavey noticed an alternate line for an upcoming MLS match: FC Cincinnati +5 goals (-134) versus Atlanta United.

Leavey went up to the counter and placed a $5,360 bet on Cincinnati plus-5 goals at the price offered. The teller received approval from the supervisor on site, and even offered Leavey the opportunity to make another bet of a similar size on Cincinnati. Leavey obliged and put another $4,640 on Cincinnati plus-5 goals. Cincinnati won 1-0.

Leavey returned to the Meadowlands sportsbook on July 16, after the game ended, to cash his tickets but was told by FanDuel staff that the bets were being held. Leavey said a FanDuel representative told him that he'd receive a call when the issue was resolved but, as of Monday night, had not heard back from the sportsbook.

"They've held it for nearly three weeks with no communication," Leavey told ESPN in a phone interview.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) declined comment.

"We are unable to comment while the DGE is investigating the issue," a FanDuel spokesperson told ESPN on Tuesday.

Cincinnati was a heavy underdog in that match, but at plus-5 goals the odds typically would have been much shorter -- potentially in the range of -1,340, instead of -134.

A bettor at the FanDuel sportsbook at Blue Chip Casino in Indiana also spotted the opportunity and placed numerous parlays that included Cincinnati plus-5 goals at -134. Sources familiar with the wagers said they were made on the self-serve betting kiosks at the casino and were in position to pay upward of $60,000.

FanDuel tracked down the bettor twice by phone before he attempted to cash the tickets and notified him that the bets would be canceled, the sources said. Indiana Gaming Commission regulations allow sportsbooks to cancel wagers "in the event of obvious error, at the certificate holder's or vendor's discretion."

"While the wagers will be cancelled, the matter will be sent to our compliance committee for review and potential action," Jenny Reske, deputy director of the Indiana Gaming Commission, told ESPN in an email.

FanDuel's house rules state that it "makes every effort to ensure that it does not make any errors when accepting bets," but in the case that a bet is accepted at odds "materially different from those available in the general betting market at the time the bet was made; or clearly incorrect given the chance of the event occurring at the time" that the sportsbook reserves the right to settle winning bets at the "correct price as reasonably determined by FanDuel Sportsbook or void any bet place where such errors have occurred."

"At some point, they need to bear some responsibility," Leavey said. "I wonder if Atlanta would've won 6-0, if I would have received a call to refund my bet."

As regulated sports betting has expanded around the U.S., errors by bookmakers have received more scrutiny. FanDuel experienced a similar controversy in September 2018 in New Jersey, when the sportsbook offered erroneous live odds on an NFL game. Late in a close game between the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos, FanDuel attempted to update its live odds to reflect the Broncos as -600 favorites. Instead, a glitch resulted in Denver being offered as a +75,000 (750-1) underdog. The mistake lasted for only 18 seconds, but it was enough time for 12 bets to be placed on the Broncos.

FanDuel took its case to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, claiming that they shouldn't be held responsible for a clear error, but ultimately paid out all the bets to the tune of an estimated $200,000.

Sportsbook operator BetMGM recently rescinded several parlay bets on Korean and Chinese baseball that were made after the games had begun, after receiving approval from Nevada Gaming Control.