DraftKings’ sports gambling competition went horribly wrong

The future of legalized sports gambling is still lagging.

DraftKings’ first ever Sports Betting National Championship ended in controversy over the weekend when a computer glitch created by the Patriots-Chargers late ending prevented bettors from placing their wagers before the Eagles-Saints late afternoon matchup, leaving the $2.5 million prize pool up for grabs.

Professional sports bettor Rufus Peabody was leading the contest heading into the Eagles-Saints game after compiling around $82,000 when he won an all-in wager on the Patriots’ 41-28 blowout win against the Chargers. However, the lengthy Patriots rout, which ended at 4:37 Eastern Time, left just four minutes before the Saints kicked off against the Eagles and wound up costing him the jackpot.

Peabody ran into trouble after his earnings were never compiled in his account, meaning he was locked out from making the final bet to win the competition.

“I had spent the last 2.5 hours running over all the numbers,” Peabody told 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.”

Peabody said he refreshed his browser numerous times during the four-minute stretch, but his winnings from the Patriots game were never credited to his account. The former ESPN employee said his next bet would have been the Saints on point spreads or the game’s under, which was 52 points. He ended up finishing third and took home $330,000.

Some accounts were oddly credited, which allowed Randy Lee, user rleejr86, to take the inaugural competition and the $1 million first prize.

DraftKings apologized in a statement.

“We recognize that in the rules the scheduled end of betting [kickoff of the NFC divisional-round game] coincided very closely to the finish of the of Patriots-Chargers game,” said DraftKings spokesperson James Chisholm. “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.”

Bettors had to place a $10,000 buy-in to participate in the event. More than 200 bettors were going after the grand prize, according to ESPN.

The event was supposed to be a preview of legalized sports betting. New Jersey became the first state to regulate sports gambling last year.

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