Golf legend Tiger Woods sent shockwaves through the sports world by winning the 2019 Masters. It had been 11 years since Woods had won a major, with his victory on Sunday taking sportbooks around the world be surprise. Furthermore, Wood’s one-stroke victory was his first ever Major triumph when trailing in the final round.
Before the prestigious Major teed off last Thursday, online sportsbook Bovada had Woods listed at 14 to 1 to don the Green Jacket for the fifth time in his career. Woods won 14 Major titles between 1997 and 2008 – including four Masters championships (1997, 2001, 2002, and 2005). However, off the course drama and four back surgeries subsequently led him into an extended decline that lasted more than a decade.
If not for his status as the ultimate public darling among the casual golf betting community, the 42-year old Woods’ odds would’ve likely been tabbed around the 20 to 1 range. But even as a 14 to 1 longshot, Woods winning the Masters in dramatic fashion delivered a crushing blow to sportsbooks in Nevada, New Jersey, and beyond.
Nick Bogdanovich serves as director of trading for William Hill U.S. – the largest sportsbook operator in the Silver State. Nevertheless, he was forced to ask the company’s head honcho for approval when James Adducci came calling with a backpack full of cash.
A 39-year old visiting Las Vegas from Wisconsin, Adduci had $85,000 from a recent sale of Amazon stock and a simple request for Bogdanovich and William Hill’s sportsbook within the SLS casino; he wanted to bet it all on Tiger Woods to win the Masters.
So says Darren Rovell of the Action Network, who interviewed Adduci after his absurd wager delivered a $1.19 million payday at 14 to 1 odds.
According to Adduci – who also spoke to Golf Digest for a feature profile – he had been $25,000 in debt due to a failed business venture when the idea to cash in his stock and bet the farm on a Woods’ resurgence at August National hit him. Last Tuesday, two days before the Masters began, Arducci asked Bogdanovich if William Hill would book action on the first sports bet he had ever placed.
That prompted a call from Bogdanovich to William Hill U.S. chief executive officer Joe Asher, who provided the go-ahead needed for the $85,000 ticket to be sold. Less than a week later, Asher was posing for a celebratory photo alongside Arducci and a novelty check showing off the seven-figure score.
After the dust had settled, Bogdanovich issued a press release to confirm that the big bet – combined with untold wagers placed by public bettors – sparked the worst single-day loss in William Hill history:
“Pretty good first bet.
It’s great to see Tiger back.
It’s a painful day for William Hill – our biggest loss ever – but a great day for golf.”
All told, Arducci won more on the 2019 Masters than 86 golfers who competed in the tournament. Woods earned just over $2 million for his efforts. Meanwhile, runner-up payout of $858,667 were each received by Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, and Brooks Koepka.
Industry losses weren’t limited to brick and mortar bet shops in Nevada by any means. The major online sportsbooks in New Jersey also reported major losses on the Masters.
FanDuel Group reports paying out $3 million on Woods’ win, with $2 million coming from direct bets, and another $1 million stemming from a promotional plan gone awry.
Ahead of the site’s $1 million Mega Eagle daily fantasy sports (DFS) contest, the daily fantasy sports provider pledged to refund the $15 entry fee should Woods win his fifth Green Jacket. And after he tapped in for bogey on #18 to clinch the title, every participant saw their entry fee paid back in full.
Mike Raffensperger, chief marketing officer for FanDuel Group, issued a statement acknowledging the Woods-inspired drubbing his book has taken:
“The Tiger effect is real.
Tiger’s historic win today has cemented him as one of the most iconic figures in sports and we congratulate him on his tremendous achievement.
We’re even happier for our customers who today have over three million reasons to believe there are more ways to win on FanDuel!”
DraftKings bettors took the platform for $1.5 million after oddsmakers posted inflated odds as high as 15 to 1 during the final round.
And BetStars – the sports betting wing of PokerStars – suffered a $360,000 loss for its largest giveback in the company’s American operations after allowing one-time wagers of $10 on Tiger Woods at 100 to 1.