As online sportsbooks flood the playing field of Texas sports betting, you’ll find a wide range of bets to navigate through. You’ll also find promotions, odds boosts, alternate lines, and betting rules that can change from sportsbook to sportsbook.
As boring as it might be, read the rules provided by your online sportsbook—especially if you’re a new bettor. Every regulated sportsbook makes its betting and payout rules clear and available online. Legal online sportsbooks in Texas must follow industry-wide standards that govern how they operate.
To help you figure these out, we’ll explain the common sportsbook rules you might encounter and what they mean for your bets.
What is required for a bet to have action?
“Action” can mean a few different things in sports gambling terms. A bet with action means it’s a valid bet on the outcome of a current contest. When it comes to a bet you’ve placed, you’ll want to be wary of a “no action” bet.
Here are some circumstances that can yield a “no action” bet:
- The game or match you’re betting on is canceled or postponed due to the weather;
- A key player you’re betting on is injured or inactive;
- Something about the game doesn’t meet the sportsbook’s requirements for completing bets, like a baseball game not reaching the minimum number of innings.
This isn’t the same as having a bet rejected. If a sportsbook rejects your bet, you’ll get a different message that asks you to solve whatever problem led to the rejection.
That could be a lack of funds in your account, a change to the odds or lines, or a technical issue.
Sportsbooks can refuse bets at any time and often do. They will usually give you a reason for it, such as deeming the bet improper, an error, or a violation of terms.
What happens if a sporting event’s date, venue or weather changes?
Let’s start with the weather. Some types of sporting events are more susceptible to weather changes than others.
It’s always wise to keep an eye on weather circumstances likely to affect your bets, but that’s not always possible. Delays or cancellations often mean your bet will lose its action.
What happens after that depends on the sportsbook. Some will cancel no-action wagers and ask you to re-make them. Others will hold onto the bet and it will become active again, especially if the game is simply delayed.
Read the rules of your preferred sportsbook to know what will happen to a specific bet.
Date and venue changes can also mean a previously accepted bet is put on hold or canceled, though these are less common. Venue changes are infrequent. For most sports, this will lead to a bet being declared “no action.”
Date changes may also lead to no-action bets if they are far enough away from the originally scheduled date. If the change significantly affects the odds, you may find bets canceled or refunded. For example, if you placed a bet where the specific date is a factor, you would be unable to complete the wager.
What if a game is shortened or canceled?
Usually, a canceled game means your bets lose their action. However, in some situations, a shortened game might not mean that.
Sportsbook rules and regulations vary by sport. In baseball, the minimum innings played may depend on how many were scheduled. Check your sportsbook rules for specifics on what they count as an “official” game.
A common minimum for bets to be paid out is five innings played before the game is called for weather or suspended. Otherwise, nine-inning games are “official” when they reach 8.5 innings. Likewise, seven-inning games are official at 6.5 innings.
In clock-governed sports, like basketball and football, the game is “official” after a certain number of minutes. Volleyball is an exception, as the match has to be completed in full.
Rules for shortened seasons
If you have placed bets further out in a sports season and a team or league’s season is shortened for some reason, you’re likely to see some bets fall to no action. But that’s not the only consideration with a shortened season.
Bets on championship appearances, season win totals or other futures bets might no longer make sense. But most shortened seasons occur in odd circumstances, like during the Covid-19 pandemic. The affected teams and leagues may announce a champion, game winner or other awards based on a shortened season.
In these cases, expect the sportsbook to honor official league announcements.
Breakdown of betting rules by bet type
Before placing your bets, you will want to know any relevant sportsbook betting rules. Here, we break down the rules for the main betting options.
Point spread betting rules
A point spread is set up with one team designated the favorite and the other the underdog. The spread is the point margin by which you think the favorite will win. If the favorite covers the point spread by meeting that margin of victory, the bet on them wins. If not, the underdog bets win (even if the favorite wins the game outright).
Moneyline betting rules
Moneylines are simple yes-or-no bets. The “line” part comes from the live posted odds telling you which competitor or team is favored to win. Of course, you choose the “money” part. The important thing to know is that teams with better odds of winning will also pay out less in winning bets.
These are also called totals bets. The bet is on a game’s combined point total. Based on the number the sportsbook provides, you can choose a total over or under that number.
Live betting rules
You can bet during live games in many cases, though not all. Sportsbooks limit the types of bets you can make during a game, but they can also pay off well. Lines and odds do shift during games, so you will need to pay attention if you’re live betting.
You can make bets like the points outcome for a certain quarter or half, but sportsbooks can limit these bets to a window of time before that. It’s common for people to place second-half bets if they see one team performing much better than another.
You can also bet on in-game happenings, like which team will score next or get a penalty. Note that sportsbooks typically won’t let you bet on extra points scoring like two-point conversions in football.
Overtime betting rules
In general, overtime counts as normal regarding totals, spreads, moneylines and other bets. It would be included in halftime bets, for instance. It would not, however, be counted in bets where it doesn’t logically apply, like those made on the first half or specific quarters.
Parlay & same game parlay rules
Parlays are such specific bets that they take a few of their own rules to maintain fairness. These are bets in which a string of events, or legs, must take place as you bet them to win. For example, you might bet a four-game parlay, but if your second bet loses, the whole thing ends.
If one leg of your bet is on a game or match canceled or called no-action for another reason, the sportsbook will usually cancel that leg and treat it like a shorter parlay instead. That four-leg parlay would just become a three-leg parlay. Ties can also do this.
Same-game parlays are parlay bets where all the bets take place within one game. This could include totals, quarters, halves, prop bets and more. Similarly, you need to win all the bets in a parlay to win it. These are not available from all sportsbooks or for all sporting events, as they are high-risk and don’t always make sense for books to offer.
Game & player prop rules
Prop bets are bets on particular players or events in a game, such as how many points a certain player will score or how long it will take both teams to reach 21 points. Almost anything you can think of might be a prop bet.
Sportsbooks rules usually include conditions under which these become no-action, too. If a player is injured or not playing, they will cancel prop bets on that person.
Grading and paying out bets
Sportsbooks grade bets once they’ve officially confirmed game results. Books usually do this ASAP. You’ll see bets on early quarters, for instance, graded before the game is even done (unless there is some dispute about the scoring).
Live bets, moneylines, spreads, totals and other bets that depend on the game’s completion are graded when the competition is done. Props and futures bets may take some time to close afterward. When a bet closes, it will be marked a winner, a loser, or a push—meaning the bet couldn’t be decided due to a tie or draw, and your money is refunded.
You can expect most bets to close and be paid out soon after an event ends. Of course, longer-term bets like season totals or other futures will not be decided until the season or required time period ends.
If you think something is wrong and your bet didn’t pay out when it should have, you can open a dispute with any legal sportsbook. Offshore or illegal books don’t have to give you any protection in a dispute. Although some may still say they do so, there are few avenues to pursue an illegal sportsbook if you have an issue with them.
Often, bet errors are simply computer or human errors. Legal sportsbooks have detailed policies on when they will pay these out. In some cases, bets may be held up or disputed because of some irregularity in the actual sports event, which can be out of the sportsbook’s control.
It’s best to protect yourself by opening an official dispute if you are in any doubt. This is often in the form of submitting an online ticket or complaint to customer services. Or you can visit an in-person sportsbook location to have an issue personally resolved if that’s available to you.
What happens when sportsbooks make mistakes?
Mistakes can happen at sportsbooks, like anywhere else. Legal books must have clear public policies on what they will do in case of an error. These policies usually are detailed in handling various types of sportsbook mistakes.
Sportsbooks keep thorough records to ensure they can resolve errors quickly and fairly. Still, it can be a good idea to screenshot bet activity or errors in your account to have documentation.
Obvious errors, like impossible odds, wrong name listings, or events listed on the wrong date, usually void the bets in question. You get your money refunded, whether it was your mistake or the sportsbook’s.
More complicated questions of odds or incorrect scoring may mean the sportsbook will recalculate the bet winnings and pay out a different amount than originally stated. It’s always worth reading the policies at your favorite sportsbook to be sure how it will handle errors.
What happens when stats are changed after the game?
Sportsbooks typically state in their rules that once a bet is settled—i.e., paid out as a win, called a loss, a push or no-action—that is the end of the bet and that future changes might affect an outcome don’t count anymore.
This is to keep things simple and clear for stats corrections, which sometimes come long enough after a game that it could cause some real technical issues for betting.
Statisticians can make mistakes, too, but if a bet has been closed by the sportsbook, that’s generally the end of the story, as frustrating as it might be. Still, sportsbooks are sensitive to upsetting bettors who feel wronged by such stats issues and sometimes will issue refunds, provide bonus play credit, or other amends.
What are correlated parlays, and why can’t you make them?
Correlated parlays get their name because they are parlay bets made on two correlated events, such as the first half of a game, plus the final score. In a correlated parlay, if you win the first bet, your odds go up of winning the second one. As you may imagine, this is not a popular bet for sportsbooks to take.
You might sometimes be able to make them in specific situations at your local in-person sportsbook. But in general, you shouldn’t expect to place correlated parlay bets. None of the online major sportsbooks will take one.
Minimum & maximum bets
Sportsbooks set their minimum and maximum bets based on what they think is reasonable for a specific event.
These are NOT the same across the board. You’ll see a noticeable difference in the min/max bet for longer wagers like season total bets, versus a quick moneyline bet on the day.
Different sportsbooks also have different minimums and maximums. Read the rules on the type of bet you want to make at your favorite book.
Bonus bets and bonuses
Nearly every sportsbook offers bonus bets and bonuses regularly to new and returning players based on events, spending, or even holidays. They’re a great promotional tool for the sportsbook and a chance for players to try new things.
However, they do usually come with conditions attached—called a playthrough or clearing requirement—such as how much you have to spend or wager before you can use the bonus. Sportsbooks may also limit when you can withdraw winnings from bonus bets or promotion bonuses.
Each sportsbook does this a little differently depending on the promotion and its policies. Before you jump on what looks like a great deal, read the fine print.
Sports betting rules by sport
Every sport has its own set of betting rules. Let’s cover the main betting rules by sport:
NFL betting rules
- For an NFL bet to have action, the game has to take place within the current scheduling week of the league.
- The minimum game length is 55 minutes for wagers to be official.
- Overtime generally counts for bets unless they are for a specific quarter.
- Extra points and two-point conversions don’t count in scoring bets unless specified.
Check out our NFL betting sites guide for more info.
NCAA football betting rules
- The same rules apply as in pro football betting, except:
- Conference championship and bowl games don’t count toward season totals.
- The scheduling week is different than the NFL, so bets have action on a different timeline.
Check out our NCAA football betting guide for more details.
NBA betting rules
- Games must be played on scheduled dates and locations for bets on them to have action. Venue changes within a city are usually permitted.
- Overtime counts for bets unless they’re for a specific quarter, or otherwise specified by the sportsbook.
- The minimum game length for bets to stand is 43 minutes.
Check out our NBA betting guide for more info.
NCAA basketball betting rules
- Generally the same rules as in NBA betting, except:
- The minimum time of a game for bets to have action is 35 minutes.
Check out our NCAA basketball betting guide for more details.
MLB betting rules
- Games must be played on the scheduled date and at the scheduled time and location for bets to have action.
- For moneyline bets, results are official after five innings are played, or 4.5 if the home team is ahead.
- For totals bets, results are official after all scheduled innings, 9 or 7, are played, or respectively 8.5 and 6.5 if the home team is ahead.
- If you bet specific pitchers and they don’t start or play, depending on the bet, it will lose action.
Check out our MLB betting sites guide for more details.
NCAA baseball betting rules
- Most rules are the same as for MLB betting, including game length rules, except:
- Specific pitchers don’t affect action on bets.
- If a mercy rule comes into effect, bets will be considered complete.