When Baker Mayfield was picked No. 1 overall in the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns, William Hill bettor Michael McCarthy figured he had an easy $500 winner on his prop bet.
But it was anything but easy for McCarthy and other bettors, including VSiN host Gill Alexander, to cash a winning wager on the draft position matchup between Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, who went No. 32 to the Baltimore Ravens.
When William Hill sports book posted its NFL draft props April 4, Mayfield was listed at plus 7.5 against Jackson. On a news release sent out by William Hill, the company explained in fine print that wagering on Mayfield plus 7.5 is wagering that the former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback “will be drafted at least eight spots earlier than Lamar Jackson being drafted.”
However, when McCarthy checked his mobile app after the draft, he discovered that William Hill had graded his $1,000 wager as a loser.
“That was a little fishy,” said McCarthy, a retired stockbroker from New York who lives in Las Vegas. “Nothing makes you madder than not getting paid on a winner.”
Mayfield opened as a minus 120 favorite in the matchup, which was taken off the board by William Hill a few days after it was posted. The price had soared to minus 200 on April 5, when McCarthy placed his wager.
On the day after the draft, McCarthy called William Hill to try to resolve the issue. He was told there was confusion over the wager and that they would call him back.
McCarthy said he then was offered a refund of his bet, but declined the offer and said he was going to contact the Gaming Control Board.
After speaking with a GCB agent Monday, the issue still wasn’t resolved.
“At that point, I was throwing in the towel,” McCarthy said. “You get a lot of the runaround.”
McCarthy said the issue was caused by a disconnect between William Hill’s marketing department and its grading system.
“The traders graded it as a basketball game,” he said. “Lamar Jackson was -7.5, and they think the final score was 32-1.”
After submitting a copy of William Hill’s news release and an ESPN.com article describing the prop on Monday, McCarthy finally got good news Tuesday during a follow-up phone call to the company.
“The guy said, ‘I’ll give you a refund and I’ll give you the extra $500 as goodwill,’” he said. “He was adamant that he was still right and that the prop was graded correctly.
“At that point, if he tells me the sky is green and the grass is blue and I’m getting paid, let’s call it a day.”
Alexander also made a limit bet on the prop to win $500 and declined a refund offered April 27 by a supervisor. After talking to some contacts at William Hill, he was told Sunday that he would be paid and he cashed his ticket Monday.
On Wednesday, Alexander recounted his experience on his show, “The Numbers Game,” while adding that he was concerned bettors who had followed his picks might not get paid.
“No one even at this point should have to go through this kind of aggravation,” he said. “You place a wager, you win a wager, you should get paid on the wager.”
When asked for comment, William Hill vice president of marketing Michael Grodsky said in a statement: “It was confusing. It was brought to our attention, and we are paying customers. Customers can bring tickets on the specific props to any of our sports books and we will cash them.”
The Gaming Control Board said in a statement that it received two calls from patrons related to the wager.
”We have been in contact with William Hill staff to ensure any outstanding concerns regarding the subject wager have been resolved,” the statement read in part.