Walled Lake man sues DraftKings, says he was stiffed out of $5K

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

It seemed too good to be true. And in the end, it was.

That's not good enough for a Walled Lake man who has filed a federal lawsuit against sports-betting giant DraftKings, claiming he was stiffed out of more than $5,000 because of a technological glitch that the company only rectified after the wager had been placed.

Lawyers for Ryan Cristman filed the suit Wednesday in district court in Detroit against Boston-based DraftKings over a Feb. 10 wager on the NHL's Boston Bruins. When the Bruins beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, that night, Cristman expected to see $5,586.93, including his original bet of $915.89, in his DraftKings account, but when he went to check, the bet was labeled a loss.

A federal lawsuit filed this week alleges sports-betting operator DraftKings stiffed a Walled Lake man out of $5,000 over an NHL bet in February.

The lawsuit is expected to become a class-action suit, said a lawyer for Cristman, seeking more than $5 million in damages. It's believed to be the first lawsuit filed by a customer against a sports-betting company since online gaming and sports betting became legal in Michigan in January.

"We're in the midst of a comprehensive investigation into the online sports wagering industry and expect that more cases will be filed this year," said Ari Scharg, a partner at Chicago-based Edelson PC, which is leading the case. "We're looking forward to presenting the DraftKings case to a jury."

A representative for DraftKings didn't respond to a request for comment from The Detroit News. A representative for the Michigan Gaming Control Board declined to comment, citing policy not to speak publicly about ongoing litigation.

The case stems to the February bet, when Cristman saw a three-way puck line on the Bruins-Rangers, with the Bruins a three-goal underdog. That seemed strange to Cristman, given a three-goal spread in hockey is significant. The three-way puck line lets you bet on either team, or play the draw, and the bet only includes regulation time.

On the app, the odds on Bruins plus-3 were plus-510, meaning a bet would pay more than 5-to-1, another strange line. So Cristman jumped on it with a sizable wager and then emailed a DraftKings representative to make sure the line and odds were correct.

"Is this supposed to be free money?!" Cristman wrote, according to a screenshot of the email attached to the lawsuit. All Boston had to do was lose by three goals or fewer or even win the game for Cristman to win that bet. "Thank you guys!"

A DraftKings representative wrote back to Cristman, confirming the line and odds, adding, "I wish you the best of the luck."

Then, after the game started, Cristman checked his betting slip — he also had some college basketball parlays to keep an eye on — and saw the line on Bruins-Rangers switched to minus-3 goals, from plus-3. Cristman again email DraftKings, but said in the lawsuit that that message went unanswered "for hours." The game ended in a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation, and Cristman's account marked the bet as a loss, with a red X showing up next to the wager.

After the game, a different DraftKings representative responded to Cristman, as shown in a screenshot, and said the bet would stand as a loss. The DraftKings representative cited "a display issue on the event interface."

DraftKings gave Cristman his original bet back, plus credited his account with a $50 free bet. But Cristman expected more than that, writing, "That DOESNT SUFFICE. I WON MY BET! ADD MY PROFITS!!"

Cristman said his account then was locked for three days — preventing him from accessing his funds and placing further bets — until a third DraftKings rep wrote back, unlocked the account and credited him with two $50 free bets.

Scharg, the attorney for Cristman, said his firm has been contacted by "a number of DraftKings users with similar problems," but doesn't know how many will join the case.

Between retail sports betting, which began in Michigan in March 2020, and online sports betting, which began in January 2021, sports-betting operators in Michigan have taken more than $1 billion in wagers, according to PlayMichigan.com. 

There are more than a dozen operators approved for sports betting in Michigan, with FanDuel, BetMGM, DraftKings and Barstool the most popular, in that order. All online operators are affiliated with Michigan casinos. DraftKings is affiliated with Bay Mills Resort & Casino in Brimley, in northern Michigan.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984