With the spotlight fully back on the NBA as we enter the league’s postseason, I want to revisit something I looked into earlier in the season.
In January, Nikola Jokic recorded a triple-double against the Milwaukee Bucks – no biggie for the league’s triple-double leader. The only problem is his 10th rebound was originally awarded to Jrue Holiday, so his final stat line read 18 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds. Bettors who had money on a Jokic triple-double ended up with a loss on their tickets.
So what happened once the NBA made a stat correction and gave Jokic the triple-double two days later? Well, it was up to sportsbooks to decide whether they wanted to honor the stat correction, and some did according to Action Network. FanDuel granted wins to those tickets with a Jokic triple-double after they were originally losses. DraftKings didn’t change the losses to wins but did refund bettors as if they won. I reached out to both to find out their approach to stat corrections and found their responses to be useful as people get set to bet large amounts of money on player props in the playoffs.
“From time to time, there can and will be errors recorded. Where it is obvious and/or where there is an official correction to an individual stat, FanDuel will continue to work with all relevant bodies to ensure we honor all winning wagers in good faith,” FanDuel communications director Emily Bass told me in February.
A DraftKings spokesperson told me that although player markets and other stat-dependent markets are settled once games go final and subsequent stat changes won’t result in re-settlement, they do offer cash credits on blatant mistakes. “The reason why we won’t re-settle is because we want customers to get their money quickly. A lot of times corrections could come in weeks later.”
So basically, if there’s an obvious stat mistake, you can get your money back – at least at these two sportsbooks. But what if your book doesn’t offer money back, what’s your recourse? It’s to simply hope there aren’t any stat mistakes to begin with. That’s because the NBA won’t overstep its relationships with books to tell them how to run their businesses.
Luckily, the NBA does take its stat-keeping extremely serious, regardless of its impact on sports betting. The league understands the impact stats have in a world of legalized betting and fantasy sports, but also wants to get it right because it sees stats as a historical record of the NBA. They’re a major way fans consume the game. And so the league has a complex system for stat collection that involves up to six people, including five in the arena and an additional auditor at the game operations center. And the league is always looking for ways to improve stat-keeping.
The bottomline is the NBA is a fast-paced game and when judgment calls are made in real time, corrections will eventually be needed. Those corrections are a small minority of the stat collection process, so they’ll just be something bettors have to expect from time to time and live with the decision made by the books they’re using.