As painful as the Golden Knights’ Game 7 loss to the Sharks was to Las Vegas fans, it was equally agonizing — if not more — to bettors who backed the Knights to win the game, series and Stanley Cup.
In a bad beat for the ages, Vegas blew a 3-0 lead midway through the third period en route to a 5-4 overtime loss. San Jose scored four goals on one power play after a five-minute major penalty that the NHL later conceded was a bad call.
When Barclay Goodrow scored 18:19 into overtime to end the Knights’ second season, countless Golden tickets turned to dust in the desert.
Warning: The following information might cause additional anguish for Knights bettors.
Bad beat rebates
PointsBet sportsbook in New Jersey inadvertently twisted the knife in the hearts and bankrolls of bettors in Las Vegas when it announced Wednesday that it would refund all Knights bets on the Game 7 money line, series futures and Stanley Cup futures as part of a “Good Karma” promotion.
PointsBet, an online book that was launched in Australia, also refunded all spread and money line wagers on the Saints when a noncall on pass interference in the NFC title game against the Rams cost New Orleans a trip to the Super Bowl.
Several other New Jersey books have employed similar bad beat rebate promotions since opening for business in the past year.
DraftKings refunded wagers — up to a $50 credit — on several NCAA Tournament games, including Virginia’s improbable overtime win and cover over Purdue in the Elite Eight.
The online New Jersey book also refunded money to Florida State bettors after the Seminoles, 8½-point favorites over Vermont, passed up an open dunk to dribble out the clock in their seven-point win.
“The promotions can cost a lot of money, but we believe it’s worth it to make the customer feel a little better and to know we’re doing something for them,” said DraftKings sportsbook director Johnny Avello, former Wynn Las Vegas sportsbook director.
‘Fail Mary’ refund
In 2012, D Las Vegas owner Derek Stevens refunded losing wagers placed on the infamous “Fail Mary” game, which the Seattle Seahawks won in controversial fashion over the Green Bay Packers on the final play on “Monday Night Football.”
But similar promotions aren’t planned at Las Vegas books, where bettors can earn comps through casino loyalty programs.
Stevens was approved Thursday by the Nevada Gaming Commission to operate sportsbooks at the Golden Gate, the D and the under-construction Circa resort under the Circa Sports brand. But he said the “Fail Mary” refund was probably a one-time thing.
“I’m glad we did it, and I know all these startup books are doing it. But I don’t know if we’d do it again,” Stevens said. “If you do it too often, it will lose its luster, and every time a game ends on a controversial call, everyone will want a refund.”
Likewise, Westgate sportsbook manager Jeff Sherman said there are no plans to offer a similar promotion.
“That’s mostly European operators making judgment calls themselves,” he said. “We always grade based on results.”
Books avoid big loss
The Westgate, which took 13 wagers on the Knights at 500-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season, avoided a six-figure liability on Vegas to win it all this year at odds ranging mostly from 10-1 to 12-1.
A year after Knights bettors cashed in on their regular-season games, season point total and the Pacific Division and Western Conference crowns, Vegas backers lost on all counts.
A $100 bettor would be down $1,230 after wagering on the Knights in every game this season, including playoffs, according to Covers.com.
At home alone, a $100 bettor would have lost $336 on Vegas despite it winning 26 of 44 games at T-Mobile Arena.
That’s because the prices on the Knights were inflated after their Stanley Cup run. They were at least minus 200 favorites in 19 games and lost seven of those, including a 3-2 home defeat to the Detroit Red Wings as minus 400 favorites.
“At the beginning of last season, they were home underdogs or short favorites,” Sherman said. “This year, we saw drastically different pricing of their games, and people weren’t so eager to get involved laying prices like that. There was more money on the puck line.”
Alas, Vegas finished 20-24 at home on the popular puck line (-1½).