Caesars Ontario Sportsbook Headed To Small Claims Court Over NFL Bets

Written By Matthew Lomon on February 24, 2023 - Last Updated on March 3, 2023
ontario sports bettor sues caesars sportsbook over NFL bets

Et tu, Caesar?

That’s likely one question an Ontario sports bettor has for Caesar’s Sportsbook after he claimed the operator unfairly settled a series of NFL bets.

As a result, the bettor, Matthew Buchalter, initiated legal action against the Ontario online sportsbook for breach of contract.

At issue are nine wagers with a total handle of $2300.

Dispute arises out of unexpected on-field emergency

Contentions between litigants came to a head following one of the most jarring on-field scenes in recent memory.

On January 2, 2023, as the Buffalo Bills faced the Cincinnati Bengals in tiger territory, Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed. The emergency, less than 10 minutes into the highly-anticipated primetime showdown, first postponed, then cancelled the game.

(Later, it was revealed Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest. He would recover enough to attend Super Bowl six weeks later.)

Schedule change impacts NFL futures bets made on Caesars Sportsbook

Unfortunately for Buchalter, the cancelled game in week 17 meant the Bengals and Bills would finish the season playing 16 out of 17 games scheduled. As a result, the teams’ regular season ended with 13-3 (Buffalo) and 12-4 (Cincinnati) records.

It seems this put a series of futures bets Buchalter made at Caesars Ontario Sportsbook in question.

Butcher’s bets:

  • Colts best regular season record ($500 stake)
  • Bills under 10.5 wins ($500)
  • Bills under 10.5 wins ($1,000)
  • Bills exactly 15 wins ($50)
  • Bills exactly 16 wins ($50)
  • Bengals exactly 13 wins ($50)
  • Bengals exactly 14 wins ($50)
  • Bengals exactly 15 wins ($50)
  • Bengals exactly 16 wins ($50)

Caesars ended that uncertainty when it settled eight of the wagers as losses – retaining the money risked. However, the sportsbook did void one bet (Bengals to win exactly 13 games), refunding $50 to Buchalter’s account.

Caesars’ action allegedly violates its own terms of service

According to the legal action launched by Buchalter, Caesars’ handling of his NFL bets violated its own terms and conditions.

The fine print, he said, indicates Caesars should have voided all nine wagers. As a result, Buchalter argued, the sportsbook is liable to repay $2,250. ($2300 minus the $50 already refunded.)

For Buchalter, one voided wager isn’t enough. Plus, he said Caesars’ action directly contradicts a “must play 17 games” condition that’s even printed on the bet slip.

Despite this, on January 12, a Caesars representative told Buchalter the company considered all bets with “a mathematical certainty” as wins and losses. Only wagers with an uncertain outcome were voided.

Buchalter escalates grievance to iGaming Ontario, Ontario Small Claims Court

Dissatisfied with Caesar’s response, Buchalter filed a formal dispute with iGaming Ontario, the agency in charge of commercial gambling. In the complaint, he argued that classifying eight of his wagers as losses contravened Caesars’ “House Rules.”

However, iGO rejected Buchalter’s claim, in this case citing “Clause 3” of Caesars’ rules:

“Bets for all markets stand provided at least 55 minutes of play have taken place and an official result is declared unless a result has already been established. If a game is postponed, the game must be played within seven days of the original scheduled date or bets are void. The exception being the final/championship of a competition, in which case all bets stand for the rescheduled game.”

Once again unhappy with iGO’s decision, Buchalter turned to Ontario small claims court with a three-pronged argument.

Prong 1:

The league postponed the game before cancelling (therefore, it did not meet the play within seven days. requirement)

Prong 2:

The 55-minute clause cannot apply to season-long bets. Therefore, “any construction of the House Rules relying on the 55-minute rule…results in a commercially absurd result.”

Prong 3:

The 55-minute of play rule directly contradicts specific rules for Caesar’s Regular Season Team Futures and Regular Season Team Win Total, as well as rules on the bet slips. Thus, iGO’s decision to prioritize general rules over specific in the event of a contradiction is incorrect.

Buchalter asks court to send a clear signal to Ontario sportsbooks

In addition to a return of Buchalter’s contested wagers, he’s seeking legal costs and related expenses, “all other available costs and disbursements available at law.” He also asked the court to penalize Caesars under Rule 19.06 of Ontario’s Small Claims Court “for acting unreasonable.”

“As a new entrant in the Ontario gaming market, the court should send a clear signal that Caesars must honour its agreements with Ontario betters.”

Photo by Shutterstock
Matthew Lomon Avatar
Written by
Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

View all posts by Matthew Lomon
Privacy Policy