PR stunt? Sure as hell sounds like a PR stunt, one that's going to piss off a lot of people who thought they were getting their money back.
Earlier today we reported that SportsBook.ag, an offshore betting site, had contacted customers who had money on the Packers and were robbed by the refereeing debacle, and told them they'd be getting a credit in the amount of their original wager. We based it off the tweets of a Canadian reporter, which were picked up by the New York Times and others. "It's the right thing to do," SportsBook's email said.
That turned out to be far from the whole story. After a flurry of tweets and emails from customers wondering where their refund was, Beyond The Bets got to the bottom of things: SportsBook is only refunding customers who live outside of the United States. For American football wagers, that's a tiny percentage of their take. The vast majority of bettors who got screwed by the replacement refs remain screwed.
Because of the U.S.'s restrictive gambling laws, SportsBook actually operates two different sites. An "American" one, hosted in Antigua and Barbuda, and a global one, which serves the rest of the world, including Canada. The global site offered refunds. The American site did not.
Here's a screengrab of an online chat with one of SportsBook's customer service reps:
SportsBook.ag was more than happy to let the misconception run wild. (We tried repeatedly to get in touch with a spokesperson this morning, and remain unsuccessful.) It's a ton of free advertising for their site, and just about the best PR around. The reality is somewhat less flattering. No, SportsBook is under no obligation to refund anything to anyone, so even paying back their Canadian and Euro customers is a nice gesture. But that's little consolation to anyone who had their hopes raised for a refund, and for SportsBook to refuse to clarify things for confused customers even now, well, that's pretty fucking shitty.