The FanDuel sportsbook is paying out bets from anyone who selected Alabama to win the college football national championship—even though the game won’t actually be played until January, according to CDC Gaming Reports.
The company said on November 30 that it’s treating top-ranked Alabama as the winner, and paid out single-game bets to bettors’ online or mobile accounts. People bet in person can bring their winning slips to that location to be paid.
Alabama also is being listed as a winner on parlay bets that included the necessity of it winning the title.
Paying out bets early could cost FanDuel $400,000. If Alabama doesn’t win the national championship, FanDuel will pay out bets on whichever team wins the title.
The company says it wants to reward bettors for betting on a team with odds that “were so lopsided it was difficult to make money,” according to the report.
The payout involved all future bets on Alabama to win it all that were made before 5 p.m. on November 30. The Crimson Tide opened at nearly 2-to-1 odds before the season started, or +195, meaning a $100 bet would return $195.
Alabama is now listed at -280, meaning a gambler would have to put up $280 to win $100.
The move to pay out Alabama bets early is a way for FanDuel to attract attention and gain market share in the growing U.S. sports betting market.
FanDuel in September agreed to pay out an $82,000 bet to a New Jersey customer that its computers mistakenly promised on what should have been a low-odds development on a Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders game.