Opinion of the Mediation Board,
by The Philosopher.
REALITY joins in this opinion and ruling, as well as offering an additional opinion.
Scott K joins in part in this opinion and ruling, and dissents in part, as well as offering an additional opinion.
The facts not in dispute are these:
Player had been a customer of Book for several months, and had made hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of wagers during this time. He had made multiple deposits and withdrawals, and was up overall, though he had been losing recently.
His account stood at zero at the time in question, except for two pending wagers. Both were money line wagers on NYJ –116. One was for $87 to win $75, and one was for $580 to win $500.
Player called Book to inquire about making a Western Union deposit, and told them that he wanted to use the deposit to bet additional money on the NYJ game, which would be starting shortly. He arranged for $4,000 to be wired to Book by Western Union, using his credit card, and then called Book again approximately thirty minutes before the NYJ game, to inform them of the incoming funds and give them the control number. They took the information, and transferred him to a wagering clerk.
Player made one wager on that call, and one wager on a subsequent call ten minutes later. The wager on the second call involved a baseball bet that ended up as a push; that wager is not at issue here.
The first wager involved another money line play on NYJ –116, the exact nature of which is disputed. Player bet $2,204 to win $1,900.
There were delays with his Western Union deposit that required him to furnish additional I.D., but ultimately the wire went through successfully later the same day and Book received the funds. Book credited Player with a reimbursement of the transfer fees and a $400 cash bonus.
Player wired an additional $2,500 on Monday. He was not given a bonus.
The NYJ won their game straight up. Player’s bet was not graded until the next day. At that time it was canceled on the dual grounds that he had had insufficient funds available for the bet, and that he had bet it as part of an if-bet that was illegitimate because it was correlated.
Book’s website states in their rules that they “reserve the right to refuse, restrict, or limit any wager,” and that they “reserve the right to cancel any wager made on an obviously ‘bad’ line whether due to software or human error.”
The bet screen that player saved shows the wager in question as an if-bet, with the first component being $580 to win $500 on the NYJ –116, and the second component being $2,204 to win $1,900 on the NYJ –116.
Player called Book on Monday to dispute their canceling his bet. They were not able to come to an agreement. He informed them that he intended to take the dispute to Major Wager for mediation.
Over the subsequent weeks, both Player and Book relayed their versions of events to The Major via E-mail. The Major passed these E-mails on to the Board. The Board has also spoken at length by phone to both Player and Book.
Player makes these further contentions, not necessarily agreed to by Book:
Player is a relative newcomer to sportsbetting. He has experience with poker and with investing in the financial markets, but he is not well-versed in all the rules and conventions of sportsbetting. Specifically, he did not know prior to this day what an “if-bet” was, and he had never made one in his life. He knows enough to shop lines and to look for scalps if they are available, and he bets for fairly high stakes, so he might be mistaken for a more knowledgeable bettor than he really is.
Player has a high opinion of Book, has played there extensively with no problems, and continues to maintain an account there even after this dispute. He has even alerted them on more than one occasion when they have posted a bad line, and they have thanked him and given him a few dollars in his account. Throughout, he has always had a very positive relationship with Book. [When later challenged on this, he acknowledged that there had been one past dispute, but stated that clearly it wasn’t a big deal to him or them since he was still playing there.]
Player was told by Book’s customer service that if he sent a Western Union deposit before the NYJ game that he would be able to use that money to bet that game. He was told that he would receive a reload cash bonus of 10% for anything sent by Monday, up to a maximum of $500. He told them he would likely have to break it up into two deposits, one Sunday and one Monday, and he was told that that would not affect the bonus, that it would be the same as sending it all at once.
Player interpreted what he was told to mean that Book would accept his bets as long as he got them the Western Union confirmation number on time, but that the acceptance would be conditional on the money itself subsequently arriving. He had experience with another book handling a similar situation that way for him in the past.
Because he was unfamiliar with an “if-bet,” any mention of an “if bet” or “if play” then, or subsequently between him and the wagering clerk, he took to refer to “if the wire is not canceled or somehow the money not collectable by Book,” then his bet(s) would stand, not “if you win a certain pending play,” then his bet(s) would stand.
So Player did not knowingly make an if-bet. He made ordinary straight bets. They were only if-bets in the extended sense that they were conditional on his Western Union deposit arriving.
Because the situation was ambiguous and because the conversation with the wagering clerk had not been completely clear, he went a lot farther than usual to confirm his bet. He not only reconfirmed with the clerk at the time that the bet was good, but he subsequently called customer service multiple times, including at half time when the NYJ game was tied, to make sure that his bet would be honored, and each time he was assured that it would be.
Part of the reason Player was calling was to follow-up on the Western Union and to provide the additional I.D. and whatever was asked of him to ensure that it went through. He wanted to make sure that the delay would not affect his pending plays that he interpreted to be conditional on this deposit, and was told each time that it would not.
Player had made a bet on the NYJ’s opponent at +130 at another book for a comparable amount, so if this bet were not honored he would be exposed with half a scalp.
Player did not check his pending bets on Book’s website until after the game, so he did not see until then that it had been entered as an if-bet. Even when he finally did discover this, he didn’t realize he was looking at an if-bet anyway, because he wasn’t familiar with that type of wager. He took it to be just a peculiar notation for a straight bet.
If Book is allowed to cancel this bet, then in effect they took a free shot at Player. For if the bet had lost they would have counted it and deducted the money from his account, and he would have never thought to question this, since he had been assured multiple times that the wager would stand.
The next day when Player called to protest about his bet being canceled after the fact, he also asked why he had not received the additional $100 bonus for his Monday deposit to bring him up to the maximum $500. He was told it was because he was up overall and thus was not entitled to a bonus.
If that were sincerely the reason, then he wouldn’t have gotten the $400 bonus the day before, and furthermore, regardless of what their standard bonus policy is in such a situation, they had told him they were giving him 10% up to $500, and thus they are bound by this.
Player informed Book immediately that he intended to go to Major Wager for mediation, so that they would know to keep all relevant tapes of his phone calls and other evidence.
Book makes these further contentions, not necessarily agreed to by Player:
Player is somewhat of a “problem” customer. [Book chose not to go into specifics with the Board for reasons of confidentiality, but did dispute any characterization of him as a beginner or as someone who was naďve in the ways of sportsbetting.] Player knows the angles and will take whatever shots he can in ambiguous situations. From betting into bad lines, to pushing them for bonuses to which their policies did not entitle him, to pushing them to bend rules in his favor, he is a high maintenance customer with whom they have clashed multiple times in the past.
In fact, at one point, they froze Player’s account and intended to send him his funds and bar him from playing there any more. After subsequent internal discussion, they decided instead to let him off with a warning and unfreeze his account.
In short, he knows his way around a sportsbook, and it is very unlikely that he’s unfamiliar with if-bets or genuinely confused about not being allowed to bet on credit at a post-up shop, or anything of that nature. He is a lot savvier than he is letting on.
The tapes of the customer service calls have not been destroyed, but they are not organized in such a way that they are readily available. [The Board was not given the opportunity to hear any of the customer service calls.]
In any case, what Player must have been told was that he would not be allowed to use any of his Western Union deposit money to wager in any form until Book had collected the money itself, not just been given the control number. Book has never deviated from this policy, regardless of what some other sportsbooks might do.
Nothing Player would have been told about if-bets would have implied that he could somehow make a conditional wager based on an incoming Western Union not yet collected. If-bets are conditional only on pending plays made with sufficient funds in the customer’s account; no one in customer service would have told Player otherwise.
The wagering clerk (the same one on both calls) erroneously accepted two invalid if-bets from Player. One was invalid due to the fact that the player bet more in the second component than he would have had available from winning the first component. (He bet from $87 to win $75 on the NYJ, to $480 to win $552 on a baseball total. The baseball bet pushed, so it didn’t matter, but he could legitimately have wagered only up to $162 on the second component. Had the wager won, Book would have been willing to adjust it in his favor so that it was for an allowable amount, and would have paid it off.)
The second if-bet was invalid both for this same reason of insufficiency of funds, and also because it was a correlated if-bet, in fact maximally correlated in that he was betting from a certain wager to itself. (He bet from $580 to win $500 on the NYJ, to $2,204 to win $1,900 on the NYJ.) [The Board did listen to the tape of this call from the wagering line in its entirety.]
The wagering clerk was new and simply made honest mistakes. Book is not obligated to pay a bet that was so clearly accepted in error, for reasons analogous to why sportsbooks are not bound to honor bets placed on obviously bad lines.
As for the bonus, it is not Book’s policy to give reload bonuses to a customer who is ahead overall. At their discretion, they will sometimes waive their policy and grant such a bonus—which they have done for Player more than once—but normally they do not. Player was erroneously given a $400 bonus. He was allowed to keep this even after it was discovered that he was not eligible for a reload bonus, but they are not obligated to then give him an additional $100.
There are two main points of contention here: Whether Player’s bet of $2,204 to win $1,900 on the NYJ on an ambiguous if-bet should be honored, and whether Player is entitled to an additional $100 in bonus money. We will address each in turn.
The question about the ambiguous if-bet is a complex one, because there are important principles that are pulling in opposite directions. The Board is not comfortable latching on to one such principle and setting the precedent that it is to be treated as an absolute, to the exclusion of all others.
For instance, the Board takes very seriously the principle of “Book a bet; pay a bet” and finds that it applies especially strongly in a case like this where the cancellation occurs after the outcome of the wager is already known. But similarly, the Board is also cognizant of the inappropriateness of holding a sportsbook liable for every error it makes, with no limitations on how obvious it is or what the consequences of honoring it would be, especially in a case like this where there is no doubt that a wager connected to itself through an if-bet is something that no sportsbook would ever intentionally accept.
So if there is a precedent to be set by this case at all, it is that issues such as these must be examined carefully on a case-by-case basis, and that the principles to be applied are all prima facie principles of varying weight, not absolutes.
Specifically as to this case, first of all, what wager did Player think he was making, what wager did Book think they were accepting, and how well did the parties communicate their intent to each other? Here is a transcript of the tape of the key wagering call, the one tape that Book made available to the Board:
Clerk: [States name of Book.]
Player: Hi, I sent money by Western Union at—today. Apparently you haven’t received it yet. So I think--I’d like to make an “if” play. The game starts at 1:00; I don’t want to miss the bet.
Clerk: OK, may I have your account number and password please, sir? Please.
Player: Yeah, it’s [gives number].
Clerk: OK, and so, from which of the pending plays do you want to make the if-bet?
Player: I want to bet on the New York Jets on the money line at minus 116, I’m showing here.
Clerk: OK, let me just write down the num--
Player: I guess that’s your line, isn’t it? My account number?
Clerk: No, no, no. I have to write the number. I have to write the ticket number that—from the pending page—bet. OK, it was 116 on the money line.
Player: Yeah, I want to put nineteen hundred dollars on the New York Jets.
Clerk: You want to bet the Jets again? But this time—?
Clerk: --on the spread?
Player: No, I want to bet the money line.
Clerk: Money line again.
Player: Minus 1—
Clerk: OK, minus 116. And you want to risk nineteen hundred?
Player: No, I want to bet nineteen hundred, so I’ll risk—
Clerk: To win nineteen hundred.
Clerk: OK, sir, you have one play on the call. From the pending play that you had before, from the New York Jets, minus 116 on the money line, risking $580 to win $500, if-win only, to the New York Jets, minus 116 on the money line, risking $2,204 to win $1,900. Is this correct, sir?
Player: That’s correct.
Clerk: Can I get confirmed for me, please, your account number and password?
Player: Account number is [gives number].
Clerk: Thanks for calling [Book] sir, and good luck.
Player: OK, so as long as you get the money—is that how this works—the bet goes through?
Player: OK. OK, thank you very much.
Clerk: Your welcome, sir.
Player: The bet’s confirmed?
Clerk: Yes sir.
Player: OK. Thank you. Bye.
Several things to note about this. For one thing, it appears to be the case that Player and the clerk are talking past each other.
Player begins by referring to his Western Union deposit that is currently in transit. (Recall that he has just been transferred from customer service, where he was inquiring how he could put his Western Union deposit into action on the NYJ game.) He clearly thinks that’s relevant to the bet he intends to make. Were he wanting to make a conventional if-bet based instead on one of his pending plays, it would not be relevant at all and he would have never mentioned it to a wagering clerk.
Although he does refer to an “if play,” he never ties it to any pending bet. Even when the clerk explicitly asks him which pending play he wants to use, he ignores that and says “I want to bet on the New York Jets on the money line at minus 116,” and later “I want to put nineteen hundred dollars on the New York Jets,” sounding very much like he thinks he’s making a straight wager, which if it is conditional at all, is conditional on the Western Union deposit he has just mentioned.
He never says he wants the if-bet that the clerk attributes to him, until it is read back to him and he responds “That’s correct.” But throughout the call, including at that point of confirmation, he sounds genuinely confused. In this respect, the tape is consistent with his later claim that he didn’t even know what an if-bet was. Indeed, after the confirmation, he’s still troubled enough that maybe they aren’t understanding each other that he feels compelled to ask “OK, so as long as you get the money—is that how this works—the bet goes through?” indicating that he is still assuming that his bet is conditional on his Western Union arriving.
On the other hand, it is equally clear that at no time does the clerk intend to do anything other than accept a conventional if-bet. Player’s mention of a Western Union at the beginning of the call is ignored, and plays no role in the subsequent conversation. She picks up on the word “if,” assumes he intends to make an if-bet, and proceeds accordingly. It is especially clear on the read back that she has entered the wager as an if-bet. Even when she is asked if this means that the wager is conditional on their “get[ting] the money” and she affirms that it is, it sounds very much like she does not understand the question and is either just saying yes to be agreeable or is thinking Player is asking if the second component of the if-bet will be activated if the first component wins.
At no time does it sound as though the clerk is accepting a wager of “if the Western Union funds arrive, then $2,204 to win $1,900 on the NYJ money line.” This is further supported by the way the wager was displayed on the website on the pending bets screen, where it was clearly written as an if-bet, not as a straight bet, or a straight bet somehow conditional on a certain deposit.
So there is evidently a failure to communicate here.
Another thing to note is that the if-bet that the clerk records is simply nonsensical. The numbers don’t add up. Winning the first component would yield only $1,080, not the needed $2,204. And of course it is as correlated as an if-bet can be, connecting the same team to itself.
Further evidence, by the way, that Player did not, and to some extent still does not, fully understand an if-bet is his later claim to the Board, noted above, that allowing this bet to be cancelled would mean that Book was taking a free shot at Player, in that if the wager had lost, they would have graded his if-bet as a loser and deducted an additional $2,204 from his account. But he’s mistaken. In point of fact, if the NYJ had lost, the original $580 wager would have lost, but it would have been as if the if-bet had never been made. The $2,204 to win $1,900 component would never have been activated.
The Board believes that Player probably is at least somewhat more savvy than he has let on, and that he was less than forthcoming with the Board about his previous disputes with Book. However, on the narrower issue of whether he understood if-bets and whether he intended to make this specific if-bet on this occasion, the Board finds it believable that he was genuinely confused and did not get the bet he thought he was making.
The question, though, is whether the bet he got, not the bet he thought he was making, should be honored. And the bet he got was a blatantly correlated if-bet that he had insufficient funds to cover.
Whose responsibility is it when an error of this nature is made? Should the sportsbook be more meticulous and train its employees better, and pay off its mistakes when it fails to do so? Or should the customer know that the erroneous bet he is being offered is invalid and will not and should not be paid?
It depends on the specific case. And whereas the Board recognizes that a sportsbook is not obligated to honor every truly obvious error that it makes, and that under most circumstances a player should recognize that among the things that would invalidate even an accepted bet are that he had insufficient funds to make it and/or it is a maximally correlated if-bet, there are multiple factors that weaken this principle’s applicability to this case:
1. Book’s stated rules refer explicitly to their right to cancel a wager made on an obviously bad line. The Board believes that this can to some degree be extended by analogy to cases of obvious errors other than bad lines, but its applicability is certainly strongest to that which it mentions explicitly. (Book’s rules also state a more general right to “refuse, restrict, or limit” wagers, but that is different from canceling a wager that has already been accepted.)
2. This wager was canceled well after the game in question ended. While the Board is not prepared to go so far as to say that there are no imaginable circumstances in which a bet could justifiably be cancelled after a game, certainly such cases will be looked at with much greater scrutiny. However warranted it might be to cancel a given wager before a game with proper notification of the customer, this will be weakened somewhat in the case of a game that has already started but with the outcome still in doubt, and weakened much more in the case of a game where the outcome has already been determined.
3. It appears that Book was given multiple opportunities to cancel this wager before or during the game, and it compounded its error by not doing so. Far from trying to get away with something and hoping Book didn’t catch on, Player contacted Book several times before or during the game to make sure his bet was good, and on none of those occasions did Book discover their error and cancel the wager.
4. Although even a beginner can justifiably be assumed to know that one cannot make a bet if one lacks sufficient funds to do so, and that one cannot make an if-bet so obviously correlated as the one in question, and although the Board believes Player to be at least moderately savvy about sportsbetting, in the highly unusual context of this case, Book’s error would not be “obvious” to a reasonable person in Player’s position. Had he had a bet on NYJ +1160 rather than –116 accepted, his claim would be enormously weakened, because it could be assumed that any reasonable person in his position would recognize that this was an obvious error and that he was not entitled to take advantage of it. But in this instance, for the reasons cited above, the Board does not believe that it was insincere or unreasonable of Player to think that he had wagered an additional $2,204 to win $1,900 on the NYJ.
Note that points 3 and 4 especially are based largely on accepting Player’s version of certain events. It is possible that Book could have successfully contested these points had they chosen to make the customer service tapes available to the Board. For example, if customer service did indeed abide by their policy by telling him unambiguously that no Western Union funds could be wagered in any form until Book had actually collected the money, or if customer service clearly explained to him that the only sort of conditional bet he could make would be an if-bet tied to a pending bet, and further explained what an if-bet and its limitations were, then presumably the tape of this conversation would render Player much less able to plausibly claim ignorance.
But because Book did not choose to make any such evidence available to the Board, the Board feels compelled to give at least some credence to Player’s account. (Similarly if Player was the one with the tapes and declined to produce them, the Board would likely incline that much further toward Book’s story.)
In summary, the Board finds:
That no wager of “If the Western Union deposit arrives, then $2,204 to win $1,900 on the NYJ” was ever accepted,
That an if-bet wager of “If $580 to win $500 on the NYJ wins, then $2,204 to win $1,900 on the NYJ” was accepted,
That the accepted wager was in violation of Book’s policies (and accepted sportsbook practices) in two respects, namely that a win on the first component would not produce sufficient funds to cover the second component, and that the two components were correlated,
That Book’s stated rules allow for cancellation of such a wager only by analogy,
That Book did not cancel the wager in advance and with adequate notification of Player,
That Player made more than a good faith effort to confirm his bet multiple times, giving Book ample opportunity to catch its error long before it did,
That Player had a reasonable belief that he stood to win an additional $1,900 in the event of a NYJ victory,
That Player relied on this reasonable belief to his detriment by placing a wager against the NYJ at another sportsbook, and refraining from placing another wager on the NYJ anywhere, thus leaving himself vulnerable with a half scalp, and
That therefore it is fair and equitable that Book grade the wager in question as a winner, and award Player an additional $1,900 for the NYJ victory.
On the second matter of the bonus, the Board is generally inclined to give sportsbooks a great deal of leeway in this area. Indeed, a sportsbook is not obligated to offer any bonus whatsoever, hence the term “bonus.”
However, if they choose to offer a bonus, and if the customer accepts the offer and deposits money based in part on his reliance on this agreement, then they have created an obligation.
Was there such an offer of a bonus in this case? The Board believes that it would be an unwise precedent to grant a customer a bonus any time he claims he was offered one and the sportsbook denies it. If it truly is simply one party’s word against the other, and neither produces significant evidence for their claim (such as a written policy on the website that shows that a given player would be entitled to a certain bonus for a given deposit), then we are inclined to side with the sportsbooks so as to avoid unprovable nuisance claims. In such cases, the burden of proof rests with the customer to show that an offer was made and accepted.
In this instance, Book’s policies did not compel them to offer a reload bonus to Player. For a customer who is currently ahead, they sometimes do and sometimes do not offer a reload bonus, at their discretion. Indeed, Player himself has made numerous reload deposits while ahead overall, and he has received a bonus for some of them and not for others.
Quite frankly, if Book had simply stated “We did not offer him a bonus,” the Board would very likely have ruled in their favor, simply due to a lack of compelling evidence on either side.
However, they did not do so. They chose instead to contest this point on the grounds that it should not matter if they offered him a bonus or not, because they are allowed to change their mind if they subsequently realize that they prefer not to grant a customer one of these reload bonuses, since they are discretionary on their part to begin with anyway, and because the Board does not have jurisdiction over this matter, since the mediation is only supposed to be for the if-bet dispute.
The Board rejects their claim on both counts. As noted above, even a discretionary bonus becomes obligatory once an offer and acceptance occur and the customer sends in his deposit in reliance on this agreement. And there is no rule limiting this Board’s jurisdiction to one dispute per case. Player happened to bring to the Board’s attention two disputes involving the same sportsbook, we gave both parties an opportunity to address both issues, and we choose to rule on both issues.
In summary, the Board finds:
That Book offered Player a 10% cash reload bonus for any funds deposited on that Sunday and/or Monday, up to a maximum bonus of $500,
That Player accepted the offer and deposited in excess of $5,000 on those days, thus entitling him to a $500 reload bonus,
That Book gave him a $400 bonus, and
That therefore Book owes player an additional $100 bonus. (This is, of course, subject to the usual conditions—for instance minimum play through and/or time requirements—that apply when Book chooses to grant a reload bonus.)
The Board wishes to reiterate that there is no single simple principle that will govern a complex dispute such as has occurred here between Player and Book. All facts and all principles must be weighed carefully before coming to a decision.
It is worth noting, however, that as evidenced by our judgment on both matters of contention here, the Board does intend to hold sportsbooks accountable to a significant degree for their own errors. It appears in this case that Book accepted a wager and offered a bonus that they later realized were contrary to their policies or at least that on reflection they would have preferred to undo.
While we are sensitive to the fact that no large organization, or for that matter no single human being, can be expected to function totally error free, we believe that given the total circumstances of this case, it is reasonable to hold Book accountable for the actions of its wagering clerk and its customer service staff in accepting an invalid bet, passing up several opportunities to cancel this bet in a reasonable time, and offering a discretionary reload bonus.
Furthermore, because the Board recognizes that there may be much more to this dispute than we are privy to, if the evidence available to Book that they have not chosen to make available to the Board clearly indicates to their satisfaction that Player has indeed “gotten away with one” here, we certainly do not contest Book’s right to close Player’s account. We cannot countenance their refusing to pay off this bet and bonus, but if they choose to pay Player his money and then close his account, that would not be in violation of our ruling. Nor would it be contrary to our ruling for Book, if they truly believe they have been wronged by Player, to give him a choice of either being paid off on this bet and bonus or being allowed to continue betting at Book, but not both.
Judgment for Player. Book to immediately credit $2,000 to Player’s account.
Additional opinion by REALITY:
A book should not be crediting a Western Union deposit based on just the control number in the first place. If a book wants to take that gamble in an attempt to increase their business, that’s their prerogative, but it is also the exception and not the rule in today’s off-shore business.
The biggest Western Union scam of all is sending the control number.
You’re laying 14 and down by 21 at the half, you just pull the Western Union back.
The days of accepting the control number and giving credit are long gone.
The funds must be in possession of the book, physically in the customer’s account, period.
Player makes it sound like they took the control number and accepted the bet, which they shouldn't have, but if they did he has a legitimate beef here.
If a glitch did allow such a situation to occur in a book where I was running the show and the original Western Union control number was valid with the amount of funds the player originally claimed I would pay this bet no question.
In essence, they extended Player credit.
Player claims he called during the game and was told he had a valid bet.
If the money is not in my account and you won’t give me credit then why did you accept the bet?
This is just an incredibly stupid scenario that can be avoided by not accepting a bet unless the book physically possesses the player’s funds.
In my opinion, the only out would be if the original Western Union was no good and the player submitted another control number when he knew his bets were winners.
They should know if he had a history of this kind of thing, because even the less expensive software packages have a customer service section for notes where you would keep a record of claims, one time exceptions, past post, and bad line wagers made, and of course attempted scams.
The clerk accepted his wager as an if-bet that they should never have taken. The clerk did not specify “If your Western Union arrives before kickoff…”
In fact, I wouldn’t take if-bets after your action is in at all, and this is why.
Tickets get lost.
Clerks and players get buddy, buddy and the next thing you know losing tickets disappear and winning tickets don’t.
You have an option in most softwares to make an 8 team if-bet.
But make all your bets on the call where it is recorded in the database and on audio disc or forever hold your peace.
If Book’s software allowed this correlated if-bet to be entered when he didn’t even have sufficient funds, then they must remain responsible for the clerk’s error.
As much as I want to side with the book, I see Book as culpable here.
Book should stand responsible for the clerks and customer service handling of the situation despite the fact it is in contradiction to Book’s policy.
The clerk and customer service are agents for Book and as such Book should stand responsible for their actions in this case.
Additional opinion by Scott K:
On the tape, when Player stated the bet he wished to make, he used the word "if" before the play. Whether he says he knows what an if-bet is or not, this is what he stated.
His intentions, though, were to make his play conditional on the funds being sent, so I believe he was not taking a shot at Book with an intentional correlated bet.
Book accepted the wager and even though it is obviously a bet books would not want to take, you have to accept responsibility for clerks’ errors. At the book I work for, the software will accept certain wagers that I do not want to accept, mostly involving parlays. We inform the operators that we don't want to take wagers and parlays on certain props/games. If they accept such a wager by mistake, we have to make it good.
I join the Board’s opinion and ruling with one caveat: I would have been inclined to allow Book to cancel the portion of the bet that was, in effect, a credit wager. I feel in this case Book has to make good their erroneous acceptance of a correlated if-bet, but I would not hold them to their error of accepting a bet for an amount in excess of the funds Player had available.
So I would have awarded Player only the additional amount he would have won if the funds realized from his winning wager at $580 to win $500 were then rolled over as the bet amount for the second half of the if-bet (making the wager “$580 to win $500 on the NYJ, if win only, then $1,080 to win $931 on the NYJ”). Since Player’s Western Union funds did not arrive in time, the amount paid should only be for what was available.