Massive Bet Sparks Questions Around Legal Online Sports Wagering

Written By Chris Imperiale on January 18, 2022
NJ resident places large online sports bet drawing attention

Although sports betting in Texas isn’t legal yet, many in the Lone Star State are hoping that changes soon. Once legal sportsbooks debut, bettors will have the opportunity to bet as little, or as much money on a game.

That’s what one bettor in New Jersey did recently when they wagered $66,500 on a college basketball game total.

Outside of the fact that this is a sizable bet, it was on an off-the-radar game involving a matchup between Southern and Texas Southern’s women’s teams.

Tipico Sportsbook in the Garden State accepted the wager on there being under 128.5 points in the contest. The final score resulted in 130 total points, making it a losing bet.

Of course, these sorts of situations raise some questions from regulators, who cleared the bet and didn’t find anything out of the ordinary during the actual game.

It also poses the discussion of whether or not more popular online sports betting apps should feature lower-tier events like this one.

NJ bettor loses big on strange wager

As soon as Tipico took the bet, it notified US Integrity, which is a firm based out of Las Vegas that screens the legal betting market for bizarre wagers. It then made the NJ regulators aware of the situation, which ended up being approved on all fronts.

The gamblers’ betting habits leading up to the notable wager was part of what was considered.

Tipico vice president of sportsbook, Andre Zammit, spoke about the operator’s reasoning behind taking the bet. According to ESPN, he said:

“It wasn’t out of the blue. It wasn’t a case of a $200, $300 [bettor] all of a sudden going ridiculously high money on something like this. This was a pattern for that particular customer.”

The sportsbook said the bettor began with $15,000 and won several bets to reach the $66,500 overall.

When Southern won by a final of 70-60, the NJ resident lost all of their winnings.

This wager was placed with Tipico, which many might be unaware of. The online book was one of the few options to actually have odds for this tilt or women’s college basketball in general.

None of the well-known platforms available in many states like DraftKings or FanDuel provided odds for it.

This is mostly because there isn’t much of an interest in these games from a betting standpoint. However, they also present a potential avenue for more wrongdoing and match-fixing.

Sports betting integrity

The president of US Integrity, Matthew Holt, was slightly amazed that Tipico accepted such a large bet on a market like that.

He discussed how this might not be the best practice for sportsbooks. Holt said:

“The lower the level of the event, there’s always the opportunity for nefarious activity. Let’s face it, these young women in this event probably aren’t being drafted into the WNBA. And they’re probably not getting big NIL deals; thus, they’re naturally more vulnerable to potential bribes.”

While this specific game wasn’t an issue, there are signs that Holt and his company look for to determine if something suspicious is happening. He continued:

“In general, I don’t ever believe that big bets are a threat on their own. If we see a game that typically would attract zero bets has five bets at four different properties totaling 150 grand, that is really strange and we’ll start having some analysts running it down.”

Part of the problem is that more operators are taking large bets similar to this on other smaller sporting events. Since states like NJ include so many online options, sportsbooks will take more risks in hopes of securing more customers.

For Tipico to generate the betting handle and revenue that DraftKings and FanDuel see, it can’t refuse bets of this size. Even if it’s for a game between two teams from the women’s Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Offbeat betting may happen more often

Without any betting limits in place, this is likely to continue to occur.

Holt talked about why this could become problematic. He said:

“The more of these big bets that are accepted on obscure markets, the motivation for people to try to manipulate these markets obviously grows.”

As legal sports betting keeps expanding throughout the US, there might need to be more eyes looking at these interesting wagers.

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Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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