Ladies and gentlemen, we have drama in the sports betting world.
Back in October, a Florida-based individual wagered $3 million on a three-leg parlay. The parlay included Georgia winning the SEC East, Alabama winning the SEC West, as well as the Green Bay Packers winning the NFC North division, a bet that would pay $8.6 million if successful, per David Purdum of ESPN. The bet was the largest ever taken by Johnny Avello, who works as DraftKings’ sportsbook director.
However, DraftKings apparently froze the bettor’s New Jersey account in late October — less than three weeks after the bet was placed — because he apparently wagered the money through a New Jersey-located proxy, an act titled “messenger betting” that carries harsh regulations in New Jersey. Now, the anonymous bettor is deciding whether he should take legal action.
What is the issue here?
But why is this anonymous individual considering legal action if what he apparently did is prohibited?
Well, the bettor, who is familiar with Avello, has known DraftKings’ sportsbook director since Avello’s days working as the executive director of race and sports at Wynn in Nevada, a Las Vegas casino and resort. When Avello moved over to DraftKings in late 2018, the bettor followed, claiming to have received authorization (in a verbal form) from Avello to place bets through a proxy, an alleged wrongful act on behalf of the sportsbook director according to Andrew Klebanow, principal of Klebanow Consulting in Las Vegas.
“That would be a clear violation of both state and federal laws and any sportsbook manager who enters in such an agreement jeopardizes the sportsbook’s license,” Klebanow said to Matt Rybaltowski of Sports Handle. The act is against the permanent rules of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Nevertheless, Avello denies knowing the parlay was placed through a proxy, per Rybaltowski. DraftKings additionally denies the alleged verbal authorization provided by Avello to utilize a proxy.
Further claims from the anonymous bettor make the situation even stickier though…..
The bettor states while recovering from surgery this past summer (at home), a VIP DraftKings host made a number of calls to him to gain more information regarding any significant future bets he was to make, potentially proving that sportsbooks allow this type of behavior to occur.
He ultimately states they only take action against messenger betting if you’re winning and are “letting it go if you’re not.”
The bigger picture here is the fact that DraftKings could be accused of selective enforcement, in a sense that it’s enforcing the rules of using a proxy against those who actually win money on the platform/app but let it slide and sweep it under the rug with those who aren’t. They haven’t faced any sort of accusation yet, according to Rybaltowski, but this could indeed be the start of an even larger conversation regarding the act of messenger betting and how different sportsbooks go about handling these types of situations.
And if DraftKings is actually utilizing selective enforcement when it comes to messenger betting, is it the only book doing so? Many different conversations could stem from this very situation, a few of which could affect some aspects of this very industry.