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Unfair Odds: Montana sports bettors upset with voided bets

Sports Ticket
Posted at 5:53 PM, Feb 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-29 12:34:08-05

Montana sports bettors are speaking out after two separate incidents where their bets were voided by the Montana Lottery.

The lottery did reimburse the bettors what they wagered, but any potential to earn winnings was erased. Montana Lottery said that the bets were voided due glitches within their system that caused the lines to be faulty.

In May of 2023, before the NFL season began, Billings resident Brian Srock placed a bet on the San Francisco 49ers making it to the Super Bowl at +24900 odds. He placed $20 on the bet, which would have won him $5,000.

Those odds were listed in the section on the machine that was designated to pick both teams in the Super Bowl match-up. Instead, only the 49ers, who did qualify for the big game, were listed on the ticket. Srock said he knew it could've become an issue, so in November he emailed Montana Sports Bet to make sure his bet would be rewarded.

"I was excited, but hesitant when I made the bet," Srock said Wednesday morning. "Just because I know how these things can go and I knew I got it at unusual odds."

Srock showed MTN the email he sent and the confirmation email from Sports Bet Montana, the division of the Montana Lottery that oversees sports gambling, that said it was an error on their part, but that he would be paid out if the 49ers made the Super Bowl. When the time came to settle, Srock was denied his money.

"To me, I don't like liars, so it's frustrating," Srock said. "It feels like they just pick and choose when they want to pay you."

Srock received a letter from Sports Bet Montana that instead explained why they wouldn't be honoring his bet. The letter read that the line he bet on was supposed to include the Tennessee Titans as the opponent to the 49ers, and because it didn't, he would be reimbursed the $20 he wagered. The 49ers' opponent in that game was the Kansas City Chiefs, who won.

Srock was understandably upset.

"That's the frustrating part," Srock said. "You're a big business. Do the right thing."

Other Montanans, like Jordan Roberts, shared a similar experience on Monday evening, when the New York Knicks hosted the Detroit Pistons in a regular season basketball game.

Originally, the Pistons were listed as the favorites, even though they have the worst record in the NBA and were playing on the Knicks' home court. Roberts saw the odds Sunday night and placed several bets on the Knicks to win.

"I saw a bet that I thought was fortuitous to take, so I made the bet," Roberts said Wednesday morning. "I can assume they flipped the odds, but it's not my problem to figure out if they did or not."

The Knicks won the game and Roberts would've won more than $2,000, but Sports Bet Montana voided all of his tickets before tip-off Monday night.

"I just think it's very backwards that on my end, all of my bets are final," Roberts said. "But on their end, they get to choose whether it's a real bet or not."

Montana Lottery Content Manager Daniel Iverson said these mistakes are an unfortunate part of the gambling world.

"We're always sorry when it happens," Iverson said. "We do our best, we aim for accuracy and we get there most of the time. The most important thing is making sure they understand the reasoning behind the decision."

Iverson said that when these incidents happen, the best they can do is reimburse the bettor. He said they were aware of the faulty line for the Knicks and Pistons game, but that in those cases, they have no choice but to void the bets.

"I understand why it's frustrating if you think you're entitled to win and we tell you there's an error and we have to cancel it," Iverson said. "We just have to make sure that the book is protected and that the retailer is protected as well."

An unsettling response to Srock, who hedged his bet and placed $1,000 on the Detroit Lions to beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship game and go to the Super Bowl in hopes of securing some earnings. Now he is fighting to have his original bet honored.

"It's a principle thing at this point," Srock said. "It's not even about the $5,000. I just think there's a lot of people that constantly deal with this that maybe don't have the energy to fight it, so I'm kind of standing up for them."