Online Bookie Pays Over A Million On Tiger…Oops

OK, all of you degenerate dedicated online wagerers out there need to help me out on this one. Paddy Power, the largest bookmaker in Ireland, jumped the gun on the PGA Championship and paid out approximately £1.2 million to its online bettors with Tiger Woods holding a four-strike lead, before the third round even began. Um … oops?

The wacky betting house didn’t even ask for the money back when Y.E. Yang ended up winning the event; it just went ahead and paid out additional toppins, or shillings, or whatever it is they use for money over there. So, knowing that the house doesn’t do anything without a mathematical advantage or angle of some sort, what’s going on here? It’s like Santa Anita paying your ticket before the horses finish the race. Or is it?

From the PADDY POWER site, late Saturday afternoon:

Just who has taken over at the asylum? Paddy Power has decided that Tiger Woods, with just a four shot lead, is such a certainty to lift the Wanamaker Trophy we’ve paid out on him to win the US PGA Championship early – before a ball has been a hit in the third round and before Westwood can get in contention only to bogey the last and miss out on a playoff. Our customers have collected £1.25 million before the great man even tees off for round three.

In fairness, despite a wobbly start to proceedings on day 2, the world number one manoeuvred through extremely difficult conditions to lead the field by four. Towing the company line, as I did earlier in the week, he won’t be caught. He’s just too good.

Hmm. By early Sunday, that move wasn’t looking too savvy. From the Paddy message board:

Look lads. I feel awful about taking this money when Tiger didn’t win. Whilst appreciating that it was foolhardy of you to offer this, please take it for granted that I won’t enjoy the slap-up meal that my winnings will provide, nor will I enjoy the bottle of fine wine to wash it all down either. — David P, August 17th, 2009 at 11:10 am

Meanwhile, clues begin to emerge.

I’m sure their risk management team were smart enough to lay off some of the 1.5m on the betting exchanges plus add in the marketing/publicity they will generate from it, then it wont have end up costing that much to the firm. — Thomas, August 17th, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Paddy Power, as it turns out, is no stranger to controversy, and they play the publicity game very well. They made a big splash in May by giving in to PETA demands that they abolish their lines on Spanish bullfighting, gaining no small measure of press in the process. They also caused a stir late last year when they offered odds on President-elect Barack Obama being assassinated.

They’ve also offered odds on how many hurricanes will hit the U.S., and on winners of reality shows such as “Dancing With the Stars”. I would imagine in Ireland that there’s a bookie on every corner, so anything a business can do to generate publicity is a positive thing. I wonder how they made out on a certain new Minnesota Vikings quarterback?