How sportsbooks handled refunds for Bills-Bengals bets after Damar Hamlin injury

Crews clear snow from a parking lot near a sign showing support for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin outside Highmark Stadium on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

The terrifying sight of Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsing on the field and needing immediate and life-saving CPR caused Buffalo’s Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals to be suspended and eventually postponed.

While the immediate attention was rightfully on the wellbeing of Hamlin — who showed positive signs overnight Tuesday, according to an ESPN report — the game’s postponement raised a number of questions, including if and when the NFL would reschedule the game and how sportsbooks would grade bets on the game.

Initially, most sportsbooks — including major players Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel — held any bets on the game as pending.

After the NFL announced Tuesday that it would not reschedule the game this week, however, sportsbooks refunded most bets on the game. The only exceptions were for bets that had already been decided, such as Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd to score a touchdown or for any player to score the game’s first touchdown.

“First and foremost, our thoughts are with Damar Hamlin and his family,” read a Caesars Sportsbook statement.

“We stand with the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, NFL and sports fans everywhere as we send our wishes for Damar’s recovery.

“For those with wagers on (Monday) night’s Bills-Bengals game, Caesars Sportsbook has paid out winning tickets decided prior to the game’s postponement. With the NFL stating the game will not be resumed this week, all remaining open wagers on the Jan. 2, 2023 game will be voided.”

DraftKings released a similar statement, saying, “per our house rules, all wagers on the game that have not been determined, such as spreads and money line, have been voided.”

The company added that daily fantasy contests that only included Monday’s game were canceled and refunded, but DFS contests that included both Sunday and Monday games would be paid out with current standings, with the exception that any lineup that included a Bills or Bengals player would receive minimum winnings of their entry fee.

For most season-long fantasy football leagues, this was championship weekend, with Bills-Bengals the crucial final game. ESPN and Yahoo scoreboards show scores as final, but both have explainers saying that if the NFL should make up the game, scores will update retroactively.

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