FanDuel returns money to gamblers who bet on Blues following controversial call in loss to Sharks

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The St. Louis Blues got totally screwed by an egregious missed hand pass that led to the Sharks‘ game-winning goal in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for the Blues, they won’t be able to get that game back and they now trail 2-1 in the series. 

However, those who were unfortunate enough to place a moneyline wager on the Blues via FanDuel — thus also getting hosed by the terrible missed call — will be able to get that game back.

FanDuel announced Thursday morning that they would refund those moneyline bets on St. Louis due to the controversy surrounding the final sequence of the game. 

In overtime of Game 3, Timo Meier clearly swatted a puck out of mid-air to help his team gain possession leading up to Erik Karlsson’s game-winning goal. After Meier batted down the puck with an open hand, Gustav Nyquist collected it and dished to Karlsson for the one-timer to end it in sudden death.

The NHL rulebook allows some discretion by the on-ice officials, but it’s pretty clear that Meier’s swat provided the Sharks with an advantage that allowed them to retain possession in the attacking zone. By the language of the rulebook, there should have been a stoppage for a hand pass as soon as the Blues touched the puck following Meier’s swat, even if the puck grazed the leg of a Blues defender before Nyquist gathered possession.

But apparently not a single member of the four-man officiating crew saw an issue with the play as it developed and, as a result, it was ruled a good goal on the ice. Even more unfathomable than the missed call is the fact that the play wasn’t eligible to be reviewed under NHL guidelines. A hand pass can only be reviewed if it directly leads to a goal — in other words, if the puck is swatted directly into the net by an attacking player’s hand. 

So the Blues players were left slamming their sticks up against the glass and banging on the door of the officials’ locker room after the game. 

It was an extremely bitter bad beat for the Blues and their fans, but at least FanDuel is willing to soften the blow for bettors. That’s a silver lining that I’m sure some people appreciate, but it brings up the question of whether or not sportsbooks should be so forgiving. 

These types of refunds from sportsbooks are becoming somewhat common these days. It’s probably largely because of how many of them are now competing for the public’s business, and the gesture is seen as an act of goodwill toward customers. But also the free publicity (such as articles like this one) probably doesn’t hurt.

However, just as there’s an inherent risk of getting jobbed by the human error factor when it comes to officiating in sports, there’s also an inherent risk of getting screwed by a bad beat in gambling, whether it be at the hands of officiating or a mind-numbing final sequence. It happens. It’s part of the experience. 

Just as the athletes and coaches have to learn to live with the losses, the gamblers should too. You know what you’re getting into when you put your money on the line; Sports are wildly unpredictable, and that’s a big part of the fun when it comes to being a fan and/or a gambler.

Are we getting to a point where we’re going to start demanding that sportsbooks give us our money back any time there’s a controversial ending to a game and it doesn’t go our way? Because if that’s the case, there have been a handful more games already this NHL postseason alone that could be worthy of some refunds. 

And should the sportsbooks even feel compelled to owe us that? A loss is a loss is a loss no matter which way you cut it and, after all, the bookmakers aren’t the ones making the calls on the ice/field/court/etc. Why should they be pressured to fork the money back over? 

In any case, with major sports leagues, including the NHL, officially getting involved with legal sports gambling since the federal ban was lifted, the refunds following notable missed calls are becoming a pretty big deal.

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