NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. sportsbook has refunded wagers from fans who bet on Duke University to win a college basketball game on Wednesday evening but instead saw the team lose after one of its star players was injured after his sneaker split open.
Feb 20, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) reacts after falling during the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
PointsBet, a licensed sportsbook in New Jersey, said it refunded wagers in the form of credits to be used on future bets after Zion Williamson’s sneaker mishap in a game against the University of North Carolina.
His shoe was made by Nike Inc, shares of which fell nearly 2 percent on Thursday and were last down about 1.4 percent.
Williamson, a freshman center, is the leading rebounder on the No. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils. He suffered a mild sprain to his right knee, according to his coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Williamson’s absence leaves a hole for the team as it goes into the NCAA’s March Madness tournament next month.
March Madness determines the national college basketball championship and is expected to generate significant betting activity in the eight U.S. states where sports wagering is now legal.
“We are in a position to rule on injustices incurred in the betting world and invoke refunds to our loyal customers we feel have been on the wrong side of luck,” Johnny Aitken, PointsBet’s CEO for North America, told Reuters.
He would not disclose the total amount refunded but said it was “in the high five figures.”
The Australian bookmaker opened a New Jersey outlet when sports betting became legal there last year.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May overturned a 1992 federal ban on sports betting outside of Nevada, allowing other states to legalize, regulate and tax it.
PointsBet hopes to offer a number of future wagers on Williamson, including when he will come back into play and what professional team will draft him, Aitken said.
Some consider Williamson the likely top pick if he enters the next National Basketball Association draft.
Reporting by Hilary Russ; Additional reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Tom Brown
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