DraftKings “Never Forget” Parlay: A Reminder For Careful Promo Language

Written By Adam Hensley on September 11, 2023
DraftKings never forget parlay

On a day when Americans remembered one of the greatest tragedies in U.S. history, DraftKings came under fire for an insensitive promotion.

Monday marked 22 years since the September 11 attacks in 2001. And to remember the tragedy, DraftKings issued a “Never Forget” parlay featuring three New York professional sports teams.

It’s safe to say this advertisement didn’t go as intended. Massachusetts sports betting regulators were already strict with promo language. But this ad’s criticism came from fans, not regulators.

DraftKings’ ‘Never Forget’ parlay draws backlash

The parlay consisted of the Mets, Yankees and Jets winning their respective games on Monday.

“NEVER FORGET,” the parlay read on DraftKings’ site. “Bet these New York teams to win tonight on 9/11.”

The Mets face the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Yankees clash against the Boston Redsox, and the Jets square off against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.

The three-leg parlay boasted +651 odds.

On the anniversary of a terrorist attack — a day filled with emotion — it was an odd move to somehow market a gambling promotion. And most people thought so, too.

Many prospective bettors snapped screenshots on their app, including DraftKings Massachusetts. Soon, images of the 9/11-themed parlay circulated on social media, with users deeming the promotion a terrible idea.

DraftKings issues an apology, takes down 9/11 parlay

As social media roasted the sportsbook operator, DraftKings took down the parlay and apologized.

“We sincerely apologize for the feature parlay that was shared briefly in commemoration of 9/11,” a DraftKings statement read. “We respect the significance of this day for our country and especially for the families of those who were directly affected.”

More than 300 people bet on the promotion before DraftKings removed it.

Important reminder for sportsbooks and their promotions

Monday’s gaffe by DraftKings is a prime example of why sportsbook operators must be careful with their promotional language. And Massachusetts is one state in particular that’s taken a firm stance on the subject.

Advertisements that capitalize on the anniversary of terrorist attacks are a first. But in general, sportsbook operators have needed to adjust their promo language to fit responsible gaming guidelines.

Arguably, the biggest instance of this was the Barstool Sportsbook in Massachusetts. Regulators flagged the now-former sportsbook’s “Can’t Lose Parlay” for violating state gaming regulations.

In this case, there can be no gray area regarding misleading advertisements. The parlay, a brainchild of Barstool personality Dan “Big Cat” Katz, combined his weekly picks. Katz is a self-admitted awful gambler, and those who follow him closely don’t take him seriously. But that isn’t everyone, and branding a gambling promotion as “can’t lose” didn’t fly with Massachusetts regulators.

The Barstool Sportsbook wasn’t the only sportsbook to switch things up.

FanDuel was one operator that would run promotions featuring “risk-free bets” or “free bets.” In these deals, new customers would essentially have their first bets insured. Let’s say you wagered $25 and lost. FanDuel would then credit your account with $25 in site credit.

That site credit was previously called a “free bet.” With regulators cracking down on operators, FanDuel pivoted, tabbing the credit now as “bonus bets.” Because in the end, that site credit wasn’t free — a user needed to lose his or her own money before getting it.

Both DraftKings, BetMGM and PointsBet are other sportsbooks that made similar moves.

It’s safe to say, though, given how quickly outcry snowballed and how fast DraftKings took down the “Never Forget Parlay,” we won’t see anything similar to Monday’s deal again.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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