ESPN Bet Criticized For ‘Push’ On Parlay Bet Policy

Written By Dan Holmes on November 29, 2023
ESPN BET Criticized For Push On Parlay Bet Policy

Only weeks after launching in Michigan, ESPN Bet is coming under scrutiny for the manner in which it handles parlay bets.

The PENN-operated sports betting app is voiding any parlay where one leg has a push, even if all other legs were successful. Most other sports betting operators pay a win for such a parlay, simply reducing the odds if one leg pushes.

PENN Entertainment launched ESPN Bet in November in Michigan and several other states. ESPN Bet replaced PENN’s former Barstool-branded betting app. ESPN Bet has proven to be very popular, eliciting more than one million app downloads in its first week available, according to JMP Securities. But its unusual handling of parlay bets may lose them customers.

Parlay betting explained

Parlay wagers are among the most popular types of bets places by sports bettors in the United States. In a parlay, a customer creates one wager made of many separate bets, often for the same game. If each bet (or “leg”) wins, the bettor wins the overall parlay wager, typically with long odds. However, if even one leg loses, the entire parlay is unsuccessful.

However, most US sportsbooks will still pay out on a parlay if one of the legs is a “push.” An example of a push would be if a match ends in a draw when the bettor chose a winner, or when the final score lands exactly on the point spread. Many sports betting apps will recalculate parlay odds if one leg is a push, treating that leg like it didn’t exist in the bet. However, ESPN Bet is voiding parlays where one leg is a push, and returning the stake to the customer.

Even though ESPN Bet Michigan customers are not losing parlay bets that have a push in them, some sports fans are unhappy with the policy. One fan on X (formerly known as Twitter) noted that it makes it difficult to rely on ESPN Bet for MMA betting, where matches often have draws:

Another Twitter/X user complained that ESPN Bet is using an unfair policy that works in their favor no matter what:

 

This is the modern interpretation of what constitutes a parlay

However, the user does not acknowledge that if the customer hits all legs of the parlay they win. Only if one or more leg fails does ESPN Bet keep the stake. Even with a push, the bet is simply voided.

It’s important to point out that the complaints shared above are concerning the modern view of a parlay. Before parlays became popular in the US for sports betting, books only paid out when all legs were successful, and a push was a voided bet. But policies by FanDuel and DraftKings, among others, have created the expectation by sports bettors that a one-leg push should simply recalculate to lower odds and pay out the parlay.

ESPN Bet’s policy does not impact parlays where one leg of a parlay loses. In that case, the customer does not receive their money back because the wager is a loser.

However, ESPN Bet is offering a product called “So Close Parlay Protection” which gives the consumer a safety net if exactly one leg of their parlay loses. In that case, the customer would get their stake back PLUS a $25 bonus bet.

ESPN Bet now an official sports betting partner of the NHL

In other ESPN Bet news, on Wednesday it was announced that the operator and its Canadian partner, theScore Bet, are now official sports betting partners of the National Hockey League.

A press release said, “As official league partners, ESPN Bet and theScore Bet will have access to a host of entitlements, including IP rights, and media and marketing integrations across League programming and premium NHL experiences.”

The news is well-timed in Michigan with the Detroit Red Wings on the upswing.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a Michigan resident who writes about sports betting, sports media, casino and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters.

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