Golf: Tiger Woods' win costs FanDuel US$2 million as sports bookies lose big

Tiger Woods lining up a putt on the 18th green during the final round of the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club, on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. PHOTO: AFP

(BLOOMBERG) - Tiger Woods's historic Masters title on Sunday (April 14), cheered by fans and celebrities around the world, was a big loss for sports books in Nevada and New Jersey.

FanDuel Group, which ran a refund promotion tied to its fantasy product, said it lost US$2 million (S$2.7 million) when Woods secured his first major victory in more than a decade. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lost nearly US$100,000, its worst result ever for the Masters, and William Hill US lost "seven figures."

"It's great to see Tiger back," said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill U.S. "It's a painful day for William Hill - our biggest golf loss ever - but a great day for golf."

Sunday's losses, though bad for many, likely won't come close to offsetting the profits amassed during Woods's down years. Despite a decade of struggles both on and off the course, Woods remained a favourite among the golf-betting public.

It was common for Woods to be the most popular golfer at a tournament, regardless of how long the odds.

"We are still doing well overall with wagers involving Tiger," Jeff Sherman, vice president of risk at Westgate SuperBook, said in an email.

At FanDuel's sports book, 21 per cent of the futures bets placed on the Masters were on Woods to win it all, a slanted total that resulted in a net loss of more than US$1 million.

The company also ran a promotion for its biggest Masters fantasy contest, where it promised to refund all entries if Woods won the tournament. That resulted in another US$1 million paid back to FanDuel customers.

William Hill found itself in a similar spot. A few days before the first round, a William Hill bettor in Nevada placed an US$85,000 wager on Woods at 14-to-1 odds. The bet, which paid out US$1.2 million, was the biggest liability on a single golf wager in William Hill's seven-year history taking bets in the US.

After all bets were paid out, William Hill was out "seven figures," according to spokesman Michael Grodsky.

Not all sports books took a loss. MGM Resorts International broke even on the event, according to Jay Rood, its vice president of race and sports. MGM had its biggest handle ever for a golf tournament.

"We were a small loser to Tiger before the start but were able to fade it over the course of the tournament," Rood said.

Woods will undoubtedly remain a driver for sports books moving forward. After the tournament, FanDuel published new odds on the rest of Woods's career.

Bettors can get 5-to-1 odds on Woods to tie Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major titles (he's currently at 15) and 10-to-1 to break the record.

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