Considering the excitement surrounding Aaron Rodgers’ arrival, it’s not a surprise that the New York Jets’ new star quarterback was a popular player to bet on this offseason — both for season-long props and the Jets’ Week 1 matchup vs. the Buffalo Bills.
Four plays in the Rodgers’ Gang Green tenure, those wagers looked like historically bad beats, with the 39-year-old signal-caller suffering a season-ending Achilles tear.
But rather than leaving those bettors emptyhanded, multiple sportsbooks took the opportunity to generate some goodwill. Shortly after the injury occurred, Caesars announced that it would be refunding bets placed on its “Welcome to New York” odds boost with a bonus bet, while DraftKings announced that it will be “refunding all Rodgers futures singles and parlays where Rodgers is an open leg” with bonus bets. BetMGM and Bet365 have since offered similar “refunds.”
REFUND ALERT: pic.twitter.com/D9jMZwRKY7
— Caesars Sportsbook Support (@CaesarsHelp) September 12, 2023
AARON RODGERS FUTURES UPDATE:
After suffering tear of his Achilles tendon, Aaron Rodgers' season is over. In addition to the refunds on last night's game, we'll be refunding all Rodgers futures singles and parlays where Rodgers is an open leg.
Credited inside 24 hrs, digital…
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) September 12, 2023
“Essentially, if you have a bet tied directly to Rodgers, you’re likely getting a refund,” a post on the DraftKings Network reads.
Not everybody, however, is excited with the sportsbooks’ decisions to essentially offer Rodgers backers a do over. Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show, Darren Rovell of the Action Network discussed the matter, which he said sets a dangerous precedent.
“Like, OK, so now someone else is hurt in the middle of a game? It was just more unfortunate because it was Aaron Rodgers?” Rovell said. “What if I bet the over in the game? Well obviously I was relying on Aaron Rodgers over Zach Wilson. So yeah, of course, it’s a horrible precedent. I think at some point, the states, state by state, will say ‘I don’t know how much you can do this. A bet is a bet.'”
To Rovell’s point, it will be curious to see how sportsbooks handle similar situations moving forward. Inevitably, another star player — quarterback or otherwise — will get injured early in a game and affected bettors will wonder why they aren’t being offered the same refunds that Rodgers backers were.
Conversely, it is worth noting that this was an especially unique situation, with a high profile player getting injured four plays into a nationally televised game. Prop bets are also typically refunded if the player who was wagered on didn’t appear in the game and while Rodgers did take four snaps — thus qualifying him — he didn’t record a passing or rushing yard in the game.
Ultimately, the reality is that for the sportsbooks, this wasn’t about what’s fair, but rather leveraging a highly visible moment in Week 1 of the NFL season into positive P.R. and goodwill with their customer bases. It’s not a coincidence that these bets weren’t refunded with the cash initially used to place the wagers, but rather bonus bets that must be used at the sportsbook (typically within a relatively short time frame after first being issued).
The phrase “the house always wins” is a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. In the end, sportsbooks are betting that whatever they lose in bonus bets will be outweighed by the loyalty — and future revenue — they earn by issuing them.
Odds are, they’ll be right.