What Can I Do If Unibet Sportsbook Does Not Honor My World Series Futures Bets?

Written by:
steve cooper
Published on:
Feb/28/2024

Unibet has said it looks to wind down its American operations some time in the second quarter, which is during the spring and summer months.  There is of course one small problem.  The sportsbook accepted MLB World Series futures bets.  The World Series won't take place until October, long after Unibet has exited the market.  This has some sports bettors worried they won't get paid should those futures be winners.  To be clear, Unibet has not at this time suggested it will fail to honor these 2024 winning World Series futures.

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Unibet Will Still Be Operational in Europe

To be clear, Unibet will have zero problem grading future bets as losers.  Inevitably there will be gamblers who hit with their futures bets especially if one of the early favorites like the LA Dodgers, Houston Astros and the reigning championship Texas Rangers end up winning, as well as regional teams like the New York Yankees and Mets as well as the Philadelphia Phillies.  Unibet has a presence in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

Should the company say it won't honor a winning futures bet, your first step is to reach out to both the state regulator where Unibet was operating and the European regulator.  Unibet is publicly traded as part of the Kindred Group with its headquarters in Malta. 

Malta maintains one of the most high profile presences in the world of international i-Gaming.  In no way do they want their reputation marred, especially in light of revelations that mob-linked organizations had obtained licenses there.  Malta regulators can assist in reviewing Unibet's business practices to determine if in fact they graded all other MLB team futures placed from the US as losers.  It should be noted that Unibet will still be offering MLB futures in Europe. 

Local US state regulators like those in New Jersey and Pennsylvania will need to be notified as well.  Regardless of how Unibet handled losing futures, your winning future bets need to be paid out. 

Why the Preemptive Warning?

Again, we want to stress that there is a long way to go from when this story hit the Web to when Unibet is obligated to pay out winning World Series futures.  So why are we assuming they won't do so?

First, as already noted, Unibet knew in advance they would be exiting the US market and still accepted future bets on an event where the result would not be known until long after their departure.

Second, a Unibet customer who placed future bets on the World Series informed Gambling911.com employees had zero answers when he returned upon learning that company would no longer be running the sportsbook.

These employees had no idea Unibet was for certain leaving the US. 

"Having no knowledge of Unibet ceasing operations in the US, I asked them when future bets will appear for baseball," the customer tells Gambling911.com.  "They both stated that there are rumors that UNIBET will be getting out of the business, but it is just rumors."

These "rumors" have not only been confirmed by Gambling911.com, but also by Legal Sports Report.

It's possible that Unibet will return all futures bets into an individual's account prior to leaving the US market.  That alone might not be enough to get them off the hook, especially if the team you have to win the World Series is looking invincible.  Bets need to be honored if the regulated sports gambling industry is going to be taken seriously in the US.

One word of caution here is that you will want to reach out to regulators immediately should this situation arise irregardless of what the potential outcome may be.  Otherwise Unibet and regulators can argue that you accepted the return of funds and voiding of the bet.  In this circumstance you don't have much of a leg to stand on months later just because your team ended up winning.  A simple letter addressed to both Unibet and the regulators expressing your displeasure will go a long way should action be required later on.  You'll probably want to think twice about this approach if you're team happens to be losing badly. 

You Stand a Good Chance of Getting Paid

State regulators do not want any bad press.  They are the entity that licensed and regulated Unibet.  They can pay you if Unibet does not, and should have an easier time collecting from that company.  In a perfect world the Unibet licensing fee should be kept in escrow if a situation like this unfolds, emphasis on the word "should".

In the unlikely event regulators refuse to take action, you have a powerful tool at your disposal

It's called small claims court (see Judge Judy for how this process works).  No need to pay any lawyer fees.  You will simply appear before a judge with all your documentation and the regulator will send someone on their behalf to try and defend why they are not responsible for payment. Unibet can also be named among the defendants in your suit. 

You can request as much as $12,000 in a small claims action in the Pennsylvania Magisterial District Court.

Sure there are teams that could end up winning the World Series that pay more than $12,000 depending on your bet (i.e. the Miami Marlins once paid out $100,000 for their World Series victory).  At least you'll get something.

Prior to 2018, all sports bets, with the exception of Nevada, were placed with an offshore sportsbook or local bookie.  There were websites dedicated to assisting with the rare disputes but the courts did not recognize these businesses as being regulated in the US.  Therefore the small claims filing was not an option.  Today it is.  Sports betting is no longer a dirty word in the States.

Mostly Good Experiences Thus Far

As far as Gambling911.com goes, The Virginia Lottery was receptive when we reached out regarding a high profile dispute last summer.

Other regulators have sided with the sportsbook when software glitches caused bets to be accepted and later voided.

Even here there existed an option of filing a small claims suit though the plaintiff in these matters could be seen as having taken advantage of what might be an "obvious" error.  A person coming forward with a court suit must be free from unfair conduct.  Obviously this standard does not apply to someone placing futures bets well before the start of the season.  Even the Dodgers priced at 20-1 odds to win the World Series "by accident" early on would have to be canceled within a reasonable time frame of the bet being placed. 

- Steve Cooper, Gambling911.com

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