Holiday Whine: Bettors Call for Refunds After Devin Booker’s Early Exit

It was not a Merry Christmas for all bettors on Sunday. That was especially true for those who wagered on Devin Booker’s return to the basketball court.

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker gets a celebratory shower from a teammate after he scored 58 points in a victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 17. Booker, who missed the last three games, played Sunday, but only lasted four minutes after reaggravating his groin injury. (Image:

The Phoenix Suns star guard had missed three games due to a groin injury after dropping 58 points against New Orleans on Dec. 17, and he missed two more games earlier in the month due to a leg injury. However, on Saturday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Booker was set to return for the Suns holiday game against the Denver Nuggets.

But Booker’s return was short-lived. He exited the NBA game after just four minutes due to suffering another groin injury, according to multiple reports.

Bitter Bettors Take to Social Media

That left a bitter taste for some who wagered on prop bets FanDuel and DraftKings offered on Booker, especially those who included him in parlay bets.

During the game and well into Monday, those who felt aggrieved about the situation took their cases to social media. On Twitter, virtually any tweet from the sports betting giants got replies calling for them to void bets on Booker.

Booker Tweets
Booker Tweets
Bettors tweet their displeasure with FanDuel and DraftKings over not voiding bets on Devin Booker. FanDuel eventually relented. ( illustration)

FanDuel eventually announced shortly after 2:30 pm ET Monday that it would give refunds in the form of free bets to those who lost straight prop bets made on Booker. It also gave similar refunds for parlays – including single-game parlays – where only the Booker bet lost.

DraftKings, as of 4:30 pm ET Monday, had not announced any plans for a refund.

Why Do Refunds Happen?

The practice of refunding sports bets has become more prevalent in the post-PASPA online wagering era, especially when it comes to wagers tied to individual player performance. There have also been times when sportsbooks have offered free bets or credits when a blown call may lead to a disputed outcome.

Sportsbooks view such refunds as good customer service in hopes bettors will stay with them. In some instances, operators can take the credits they extend to bettors as refunds and deduct that from their gross gaming revenue. That can help reduce their tax liabilities.

But for many traditionalists in the industry, be they bettors or bookmakers, the move to refund such bets rankles them. The premise behind sports betting is simple, and it involves risk. That includes the risk of the player leaving the game early due to injury, ejection or a coach’s decision.

Besides, player props are like other total wagers. They’re two-way bets with over and under options. So, the sportsbooks paid out the under bets as winners, as they should.

If you bet on a prop expecting to get a refund if said player gets hurt during the game then respectfully you shouldn’t be betting props,” tweeted Circa Sports Sportsbook Operations Manager Jeffrey Benson early Monday morning.

Benson also called out operators, though not by name, for allowing such behavior in the first place.

Enough is Enough

A couple of years ago, I thought that moves PointsBet made with its “Karma Kommittee” were OK because they were for extraordinary circumstances. Like, when it gave a refund after the New Orleans Saints lost in the NFC Championship in January 2019 after a missed pass interference call.

But the movement has since spiraled out of control and likely will continue that way as long as sportsbooks can treat the credits as write-offs. It’s time for the practice to end.

I’m not betting on that, though.

Instead, the next time a star player leaves a game early, we’re likely to see even more of an outcry.

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