DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship Recap: Competition Spoiled by Controversy Once Again

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For the second time in three years, DraftKings Sportsbook held its Sports Betting National Championship (SBNC) from November 5 to 7. Players were required to pay a $10,000 entry fee, $5,000 of which went to the prize pool and $5,000 of which went towards their bankroll. Players were only permitted to place bets on NFL, NBA, and college football for the championship, and there was set to be $2 million in guaranteed prizes for the winners. Like the last time this event was held in 2019, it hardly went off without a hitch, and there were many controversies related to available bets and mismanagement by DraftKings.

Who Won the Event?

A user named tuso323 took down the $1 million top prize and earned a ticket to DraftKings Sportsbook’s Tournament of Champions, an ultimate competition that offers over $100 million in prizes the chance to be named the best sports bettor of all time. In the SBNC, tuso323 finished with a final bankroll of $169,747.17 off that initial $5,000 starting point and beat the second-placed challenger, jetsr2cool, by over $30,000.

With only six total bets placed, tuso323 relied on one massive parlay to jump into first place – they bet $24,900 on the Jaguars +14.5, Bills/Jaguars under 49, and Broncos +6.5 to net over $169,000, most of their total bankroll. In addition to the $1 million top prize, and Tournament of Champions invite, tuso323 gets to keep the entirety of their $169,747.17 bankroll.

SBNC Marred by Controversy

After a lack of consistency hurt the 2019 SBNC in terms of bets available and timing on wagers being graded for the contest, DraftKings attempted to remedy those issues in this year’s iteration of the competition. However, some contestants had a hard time finding bets, and according to one contestant, you were unable to bet on college football games for over two hours and the NBA for over an hour. Some contestants were able to place hundreds of thousands of dollars on bets, while others could not place even $1 on some contests.

After that snafu at the beginning of the competition, DraftKings director Johnny Avello announced that all contestants would be made whole on Saturday morning, seeing them receive the entirety of their $10,000 entry back. In addition, the competition was closed at 1 PM instead of 6 PM on Saturday, leaving bettors upset who were waiting to get a clear picture of the leaderboard before placing their bets.

DraftKings Sportsbook Lost Money

According to Captain Jack Andrews, a well-respected sports betting analyst with a large Twitter following, DraftKings Sportsbook lost over $4.7 million on the SBNC. The sportsbook’s number of entrants needed to avoid an “overlay” was 445, and the final tally was only 215 entrants. That number was expected to rise on Saturday, but issues with betting limits and bets made available held back that final tally. That $4.7 million loss doesn’t include marketing and venue fees.

DraftKings saw 35% of entries come from New Jersey, 18% from Pennsylvania, 12% from Colorado, and 11% from Michigan. As more states begin to legalize sports betting and DraftKings grows its national presence, the SBNC should only grow in popularity. However, DraftKings must find a way to avoid controversy in the future to enhance bettors’ enjoyment and the bottom line for the company.

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. As the United States embarks on an exciting journey towards the legalization of sports betting, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to cover industry news, NFL and NBA odds, and more.

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