The New York Times is reporting that poor officiating by replacement refs in last night’s Green Bay/Seattle game prompted Sportsbook.com to issue refunds to anyone who picked the Packers.

While the hype is fantastic PR for Sportsbook.com, the story of a mass refunds is not entirely accurate. Thanks to heavy handed American sports betting laws, only bettors outside the US are eligible for the refund.

Late on Tuesday afternoon, Deadspin.com reported that the refund offer only applied to bettors on the Sportsbook.com site which serves non-US customers. Players from Sportsbook.ag, which still handles US action, were left out in the cold.

This rapidly breaking Internet news item shows how the NFL referee lockout is impacting the sports betting world. It also shows how sportsbook affiliates can turn this ugly situation in their favor.

The Trouble with Replacement Refs

Ever since the NFL locked out its referees in the preseason, sports pundits have complained that the quality of officiating would impact the outcome of a game.

Their predictions came true last night when the Seahawks beat the Packers 14-12 after Seattle WR Golden Tate, supposedly grabbed a last second Hail Mary Pass for the winning touchdown.

Replays clearly show that Tate was not in possession of the ball. Despite an official review the refs stood by their call, handing the Packers an ugly loss.

How It Impacts Sports Betting

Not surprisingly, the referee brouhaha has had a big impact on NFL betting patterns. Green Bay was just a three-point favorite last night, but commanded a huge amount of the betting action. (Oddsmakers have already been adjusting lines a half point or so to reflect the replacement refs’ bias in favor of home teams.)

So while the Pack’s loss made for a good night for Vegas sportsbooks, the long-term implications might not be so rosy. After all, bettors aren’t likely to keep plunking down cash on games with this type of inconsistent officiating.

What Can Sportsbook Affiliates Do?

Sportsbook affiliates need to address the replacement referee issue head on in both their content and their promotions.

  • If possible, offer a one-time bad beat refund promotion to protect your players.
  • Create plenty of content that talks about how bettors can adjust their strategies to account for the replacement refs.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you’re offering a refund, offer it everyone or risk losing some credibility.

Finally

With so much controversy surrounding this issue, it’s likely that the NFL will move quickly to bring back their regular officiating crew. After all, Lingerie Football League rejects are not good for the NFL brand.

Until then, sportsbook affiliates should adjust their marketing and content strategies to keep bettors happy.

Are you adjusting your NFL content and marketing strategies because of the NFL referee lockout? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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