Sports Betting Rules

One thing a lot of sports bettors cannot do is to read through the rules of a sportsbook before making a bet. The time to know the regulations of each sportsbook is before questions raised, and spending a few time to look over the fine print is worth spending.

Almost all sportsbooks follow some common rules, like how long a game must go to be declared official, but there are scenarios in which each sportsbook handles a bit differently, as well.


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Universal Rules

Almost every sportsbook have the same rules pertaining to what makes up an official game. In football and basketball, this is typically within 5 minutes of a full game, means that football games are declared official after 55 minutes played, NBA games after 43 minutes, and college basketball and the WNBA after 35 minutes of play.

While this does not appear to be a matter of concern, there are some cases where a game started and because of unforeseen circumstances was called early.

An example is the 1976 football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the College All-Star team which was called near the end of the third quarter owing to a massive thunderstorm. Even though the Steelers were credited with a 24-0 victory, those betting on Pittsburgh could not cash their tickets because the game did not go the required 55 minutes. There were also some college football games in 2015 which did not play 55 minutes because of lightning in the area.

However, the one sport where the official game rule comes into play more than any other sport is naturally baseball, where the weather can have an influence on the result.

The basic rule is that games are declared official at different points in the game for different bets. For sides, games are declared official after 5 innings, or 4.5 innings if the home team is ahead. If you bet on the Yankees and they lead Seattle 8-3 after 5 innings and it begins raining to the point the game is called, you will win your bet.

Totals and run-line bets are another thing, however, as the game has to go all nine innings, or 8.5 if the home team is ahead, to be declared official. In the case between the Yankees and the Mariners, even if you bet over 9.5 runs you couldn’t be able to cash your ticket, since the game didn’t go the full nine innings. It does not matter that there were already 11 runs scored in the game.

The same holds true for anybody wagering the Yankees -1.5 runs. The game must go all nine innings or run line bets are refunded.

Specific Rules

Once again, baseball plays a vital part when it comes to sportsbook specific rules, with most of these involving the beginning pitchers. Most sportsbooks let you specify the starting pitchers for a bet. If either starting pitcher cannot go, your bet is void.

Other sportsbooks do not give bettors the option of naming starters, or do so only for totals, even though the competition between sportsbooks has made this practice quite outdated.

How sportsbooks handle ties on parlays and teasers is another thing where the rules may differ from book to book. Most sportsbooks drop the number of games in your bet, even though there are some that still follow the old “ties lose” guideline. Naturally, these sportsbooks has to be avoided, or at the very least, make parlay and teaser bets elsewhere.

Local Bookies

Perhaps the most obvious advantage of knowing the rules beforehand is for those dealing with local bookmakers. Many local bookmakers often make the rules up when they go, depending on which ruling is the most useful for them.

In our case between the Yankees and the Mariners above, a local bookie would very well tell the under bettors they lost, if they had more wagers on the under than the over. If there were more wagers on the over, naturally it became no action, as the game did not go the required nine innings. No doubt, some local books told the under bettors they lost and the over bettors they did not have any actions.

Again, parlays and teasers are another matter which should be discussed with a local bookmaker before making your bet. There is nothing more frustrating than finding out a bet you thought you had won is regarded as a loss by your bookie due to their interpretation of the rules.

Those dealing with online sportsbooks will not encounter as many of the similar problems, because the rules are posted on the website for everybody to see.

Spend a time looking at the rules and regulations from your sportsbooks. There will be less surprises and when it comes to sports betting, it is like the old saying that stated, “the best surprise is no surprise.”


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