Ronaldo's Near-Goal Prompts Payouts from Some Sports Betting Sites, Nothing from Others

The Ronaldo miss and the response by bookmakers highlights the balance operators are trying to strike during such an important customer-acquisition event.

Last Updated: Nov 29, 2022 12:57 PM ET Read Time: 2 min
Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal World Cup
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Well, this is awkward.

There were probably scores of bettors who, on Monday, began to celebrate when Bruno Fernandes sent a ball into the box during Portugal's World Cup match against Uruguay. The legendary Cristiano Ronaldo floated up and appeared to touch his head to the ball, which continued into the net.

Ronaldo, a prolific goalscorer, celebrated like he’d bagged another one. The goal in the 54th minute put Portugal up 1-0, and it was poised to put Ronaldo anytime goal backers up financially as well (among other potentially winning wagers at online sports betting sites).

At BetMGM, for example, Ronaldo to score a goal anytime during the match was one of its most-bet props for the game.

So close

Then the official announcement was made. The goal was credited to Fernandes, not Ronaldo, with video replays suggesting the latter hadn’t made contact, despite being oh-so-close. Bettors who wagered Ronaldo would score, score first, score with a header — all of them were facing the prospect of a losing ticket.

The game ultimately finished 2-0 Portugal, with both goals credited to Fernandes. Sports betting sites such as Betfred and FanDuel settled Ronaldo-related scoring wagers as losses, leaving their players tasting bitter defeat. 

However, at other sites, the trading teams decided to cut bettors some slack. Books such as PointsBet and Betfair trumpeted that they had paid out Ronaldo-related bets, such as scoring a goal anytime during the match. For those punters, the agony of defeat had been avoided. 

Bet365, after initially grading Ronaldo goalscoring markets as a loss, said Monday that it was in the process of paying out Ronaldo-related bets as winners in bet credits “as a gesture of goodwill.”

The bookmaker told Covers on Tuesday that bets on Ronaldo to score first or at any time, to have a shot on target, and to score with a header were all paid out as winners in credit, including boosted wagers.

Bet365’s total payout in bet credits due to the Ronaldo near-goal was worth approximately $3.1 million. That's in addition to the millions of dollars the operator has refunded due to 0-0 draws

More broadly, though, the Ronaldo miss highlights the awkward situation that legal sportsbooks can face. The World Cup is a great time to acquire customers, and giving users a break every so often with a free bet, a refunded wager, or a win that probably shouldn’t have been can help with those efforts.

The flip side of that is the sports-betting business is still a business, and businesses need to make money or they won’t be in business anymore. What’s more, all books have rules that outline what makes a win a win — and if Ronaldo didn’t score, then they don’t have to pay.

Unless, of course, they wanted to. And, in the end, some of them did and some of them didn't. 

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