Australian sportsbook company PointsBet launched in New Jersey in early 2019 with some swagger, boasting of its unique betting features and the quality of its wagering app. But on Friday, something went wrong in the state where PointsBet first launched its U.S. business.
A since-deleted tweet that afternoon warned that the app would be unavailable in the state — with only the Garden State affected — “until Monday.” A PointsBet spokesman told NJ Online Gambling Tuesday that the app actually went down “for almost 48 hours,” and it was back up Sunday in time for that night’s highly anticipated — and wagered upon — Game 7 of the Boston Celtics-Miami Heat Eastern Conference Finals.
That also meant that PointsBet customers who fancied the New York Rangers Monday night in their own Game 7 of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes were able to place winning wagers on the app.
But unlike other New Jersey sports betting sites, PointsBet was not an option for those who wanted to wager on NBA and NHL contests on Friday and Saturday, as well as MLB games or other events on those dates. The online casino gambling linked to sports betting on the PointsBet platform was also unavailable.
“Our system maintenance tech team identified a minor issue that we needed to address,” said spokesman Jeffrey Altstadter, adding that he had no reason to expect a recurrence of the issue.
PointsBet’s interest in New Jersey
The Australian company was also eager to launch in New York four years ago, but then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo was adamantly against mobile wagering.
In a visit by NJ Online Gambling to PointsBet’s Jersey City headquarters in January 2019, CEO Johnny Aitken said: “We’ve been on the cusp of media deals for New York and New Jersey, but we need New York to fall. Without New York being live, it’s a TV deal where 60 to 70 percent of your audience can’t transact with your brand.”
That same month, PointsBet made news by offering full credits for those in New Jersey victimized by a missed pass interference call that helped the Los Angeles Rams to a fluky victory over the New Orleans Saints in an NFC playoff game. PointsBet made the same offer to players from competing websites, with a screenshot of the losing bet and a signup to PointsBet leading to a site credit for those bettors as well. (In 2020, the company announced the formation of a “Karma Kommittee” that would consider any future bad beats for site credits.)
“We don’t have the brand name to date of a DraftKings or a FanDuel, so going out and spending $100 million on Facebook [advertising], it would be hard to convert that positively,” Aitken said at the time. “We are competing hard on price, with some -105 offers and even some ‘no juice’ on NBA games. Also two risk-free bets at signup, up to $1,000. We really want to go after that big punter, and we’re attracting that client right out of the gate.”
PointsBet now has launched in almost a dozen states — including New York, as of late January. New York has become the nation’s largest mobile sports betting market, pending developments in California, Florida, and Texas.
The PointsBet twist
The operator’s high-risk, high-reward “pointsbetting” option works this way: If you bet $10 on the “over” in, say, an NBA game, and the game goes over the total by one point, you win $10. But if the total goes 10 points over, you win $100 — and if it’s 20 points over, that’s $200 on a $10 bet.
The “catch” is that it works both ways — if you played that over total and the teams come up 20 points shy, then you lose not $10 but $200.
The practice is popular in Australia, which by all accounts is the world’s gambling-per-capita leader. For Americans, it’s worth noting that a “stop loss” feature is available. So you can limit the loss — or win — on a game to whatever predetermined maximum a customer designates, such as $100. If the total goes over by 10 points, the win would be $100. After that, the extra points are irrelevant.