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Sports Betting Rules

Much like the sports themselves, sports betting has rules that are followed. While all sportsbooks have their unique sets of rules for bettors, many rules are practically universal and are similar no matter where you go. It’s important to know what the basic sports betting rules are along with researching the rules of the individual live or online sportsbook you are betting through before placing a wager. There is nothing worse than finding out after the fact that a game you thought was a winner is graded “no action” by your sportsbook due to its regulations.


A sporting event can be canceled or end early because of weather conditions or other unexpected reasons. What is considered an “official” game for betting purposes will vary from sport to sport and sportsbook to sportsbook. Any baseball game that goes past the middle of the fifth inning is considered to be official and all moneyline bets on them are valid. Run line wagers and totals are required to go at least 8.5 innings to be declared official. This means you can place a wager on a baseball game to go over 7.5 runs and the score can be 7-3, but if the game is called after seven innings due to rain, your bet is graded “no action” as it did not go the required amount of innings.


Basketball, football and hockey games are typically required to be played within five minutes of their full time, meaning that NHL and football games must be played for at least 55 minutes, while NBA games are required to go 43 minutes and college basketball games must be played for 35 minutes. In soccer, matches must play at least 40 minutes of the second half to be considered valid.


Another way that a baseball bet can be voided is if the scheduled starting pitcher is scratched at the last minute. Because the starting pitcher is so crucial to the game, many sportsbooks void any bets on a game where the starting pitcher changes after the line is set but before the first pitch. Some sportsbooks allow you to place your wager using “listed pitchers” meaning the two scheduled starters must throw at least one pitch for the wager to be valid. Other sportsbooks will let you specify an “action” wager meaning that your bet is valid regardless of which pitchers start the game.

Nearly all online sportsbooks will have their individual policies posted on their website. It is definitely worth your while to spend a few minutes reading up on the rules of a particular sportsbook, especially if you bet teasers or parlays, where some sportsbooks will count ties as a loss. A little bit of knowledge will go a long ways in eliminating any potential misunderstandings.