What happens when the sportsbook makes a mistake? This is a bit of a rarity, but while a decent number of books run on algorithms and formulas, they also still rely on humans, who are not perfect.
Whether the mistake is in your favor or not, sportsbooks generally handle these situations on a case-by-case basis, and how they do so may vary from book to book.
Below we’ll take you through some sportsbook betting mistakes and how legitimate, regulated books may handle them.
Most common sportsbook mistakes
While sportsbooks don’t make mistakes often, here are a couple that could come up along with a couple of bettor mistakes:
- Setting the wrong line: A sportsbook can make a simple error where the lines or odds are not what they should be.
- Live betting glitch: Betting on games as they happen has become popular, but the algorithm could have a glitch that throws the numbers off one way or the other.
- Picking the wrong side: If you’re not paying close attention, you could accidentally pick the opposite side of the bet from what you wanted.
- Betting without realizing the odds changed: This is especially important to track in live betting because lines and odds move so rapidly.
Can you remove a bet you made by mistake?
Let’s say you wanted to bet on the Dallas Cowboys as 3.5-point underdogs in their game with the Philadelphia Eagles. But you’re in a rush and accidentally select Eagles -3.5 and place the bet before realizing it.
You could simply bet double what you accidentally wagered on the Eagles on the Cowboys, but you will lose a percentage of money by doing that due to the vig or juice, which is the standard -110 odds on each side of a point spread. That is not the most ideal scenario, but there are additional workarounds.
Sportsbooks may have a cash-out feature that allows you to get at least some of your money back after placing a bet. If you are able to catch your mistake quickly enough, there is a chance you could cash out the full value of the bet for a complete refund. This scenario typically requires the spread to be exactly the same. If the numbers move in either direction, you are likely stuck with the bet or can cash out for a smaller payout.
Regardless, make sure you are patient when placing your bets and double-check any wager you make to ensure you are betting on the outcome you would like.
What happens if a sportsbook makes a mistake on a betting line (posts the wrong odds)?
If you are scrolling through the betting board and recognize one line is significantly off from what you would expect it to be, it is possible there was some sort of glitch that is showing the incorrect numbers.
What happens in such a scenario can vary from book to book. Some sportsbooks will void the bet entirely, while some will honor bets on the mistake, which can go a long way with bettors.
Can you take advantage of sportsbook mistakes?
While it is possible this could all be a waste of time in the end, there is no downside to trying to bet on a sportsbook mistake. The best-case scenario would be the sportsbook honors the bet despite its mistake, which could give you a free victory.
The worst-case scenario would be the sportsbook says there was an error in the system, and all wagers on that specific bet are void as if they never happened, giving bettors their money back.
How often do sportsbooks make mistakes with odds?
While it doesn’t happen often, there are odds for just about everything in the world of sports, and with that much going on, there are bound to be some mistakes. An extremely small percentage of the sports betting experience will show a mistake from the sportsbook, but there have been well-documented cases of this occurring.
It is always fascinating to see how sportsbooks decide to handle their mistakes. On one hand, losing money based on an obvious mistake is not fair in their eyes, so they could decide not to honor the bet.
However, another line of thinking is to honor the bet and provide good public relations with your customers and other bettors whom you would like to become your customers.
Online sportsbooks compete fiercely for users, including offering huge sign-up bonuses, and they may be willing to take a short-term financial hit to attract customers — also knowing they are likely to beat the bettors in the long run, anyway.
What do you do if a sportsbook mistake doesn’t pay out?
There is little you can do in this situation. Sportsbooks will usually have policies in place that they cannot be held liable for errors, so expect not to receive a payout if you win a bet based on the sportsbook’s mistake.
You can likely find this language in a rules and regulations section or FAQ page of an online sportsbook. If, however, you feel you should have received a payout, you can contact the regulatory authority that oversees sports betting in your state.
What is the biggest sportsbook mistake ever?
There have been a few notable examples over the years, but a high-profile mistake came in 2018 by FanDuel Sportsbook in New Jersey. The Denver Broncos trailed 19-17 and were looking to connect on a game-winning field goal late.
In an obvious error, FanDuel listed Denver as a +75000 underdog to win the game on the live moneyline, even as the Broncos were in the red zone. Sports bettor Anthony Prince recognized this and placed a $110 bet on the Broncos that would pay out $82,610 if they pulled off the victory. Denver won the game, and initially, FanDuel declined to honor the payout and offered Prince $500 and tickets to three New York Giants games.
FanDuel eventually paid out the full winnings to Prince and other bettors who placed bets at the same inaccurate price. In the end, all of those bettors made some easy extra cash, and FanDuel might have netted some extra customers for the move.