Sports Betting Rules

Before you start betting on sports at an online sportsbook, it’s a good idea to learn the rules of sports betting as laid forth by the site. Not every online sportsbook has the same guidelines, and some are more suitable for different types of sports bettors. Taking a few moments to skim the fine print can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

There are two main categories of sports betting rules. The first are “Universal Rules”, these being rules that pretty much all online sports betting site follow. The second are “Site Specific Rules”; rules that an online sportsbook will lay forth according to its own preferences.

Universal Sports Betting Rules

The following sports betting rules are basic guidelines upheld by most, if not all, online sportsbooks and bookies.

Official Contest: In order for an event to be deemed an official contest, it must last a specific length of time. NFL football games are generally 60 minutes, plus overtime if necessary, but so long as the contest lasts at least 55 minutes, it is considered a full game. NBA games must last a minimum of 43 minutes, WNBA games and NCAA games 35 minutes.

MLB is a sport where length of game most often comes into play. A baseball game can be called often due to weather. In a straight bet, at least 5 innings must be played, or 4.5 innings if the home team is leading. For totals wagers, however, the full 9 innings (or 8.5 innings if the home team is leading) is required.

If a contest does not last the required duration, all wagers are declared “no action”. The bettor is returned his/her wager; no winnings are paid, no losses collected.

Starting Pitchers: Another universal sports betting rule is incorporated in MLB baseball games where a specific starting pitcher is expected to start a game. If that pitcher does not start, the game is declared “no action”.

Site Specific Sports Betting Rules

The following sports betting rules are generally defined by all online sportsbooks and bookies, but may vary in quality.

Minimum / Maximum Bets & Winnings:
The minimum bet and maximum bet allowed on each sporting event should be defined in the site’s sports betting rules. The minimum bet is generally $1, but the maximum bet can range from $200 to $50,000 and up. However, the maximum winnings allowed per bet, day, week or month can affect the actual maximum bet.

An online sportsbook may only pay out a maximum of $25,000 on a single bet, for example. The daily winnings might be capped at $50,000, with weekly winnings of no more than $200,000 and monthly winnings of $500,000. This is just an example, but you can see how a bettor would not be allowed to win as much as $50,000 every day due to weekly/monthly caps. And if a max wager of $2,000 is placed on odds of 15-to-1, you would not win the full $30,000 if the maximum winnings per bet is $25,000.

Tie Bets on Parlays/Teasers:
Online sports betting sites may handle tie bets on parlays and teasers in different ways. The most common guidelines for parlays and teasers involving a tied outcome is to reduce the number of wagers by one for each tie. If you bet on 5 games, and one of them ends in a tie, the number of bets is reduced to 4, paying the odds of a 4-way parlay or teaser instead of 5.

There are some sportsbooks and bookies who will consider a tie to be a loss, resulting in a losing overall bet. Be sure to read this section of the sports betting rules and avoid any site that considers a tie to be a loss.

Nobody likes to read the fine print, but it is provided for a reason.  You can save you a lot of emotional distress and financial heartache to take just a few minutes out of your time to learn the sports betting terms and to observe the official sports betting rules before you get started.