Nevada sportsbooks are required to post the house rules where patrons can see them.
At the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino SuperBook, the house rules are posted to the left of the betting counter on the wall that separates the buffet from the sportsbook. Bettors may ask for their own copy of the rules at the counter.
The six pages of rules cover everything from teaser odds to rain-shortened baseball games to suspended football games. Jay Kornegay, the LVH’s race and sportsbook director, says that almost all of them have come into play at some point.
One of the most controversial rulings came two years ago this week, when the final score of the USC-Utah game was changed after the game ended.
A quick refresher, courtesy of the LA Times:
The game ended with USC apparently winning, 17-14, and failing to cover the 8½-point spread.
But two hours after time expired at the Coliseum, the Pacific 12 Conference determined that there had been a miscommunication between field officials and the official scorer in the press box and that USC should have been credited with a game-ending touchdown, making the score 23-14.
During that two-hour window, the SuperBook paid out all tickets on Utah. Once the score was changed, they paid all USC tickets. It was a bookie’s nightmare.
“In that case, we viewed it as a corrected score, because the correction was recognized that day,” Kornegay said. “If it would have happened after the close of business, it would have been an overturn.”
The SuperBook does not recognize overturns or protested games. Had the change been made the next day or after the close of business, the final score for wagering purposes would have been 17-14.
Kornegay said he and his staff are constantly reviewing and tweaking the rules to make them clearer and to adapt to new situations as they arise. One such instance occurred in 2003, when a game between the Dolphins and host Chargers had to be relocated to Tempe, Ariz., due to wildfires. The SuperBook’s rules at the time required games to be played at the stated venue for action. Now, games must be played in the “same city or geographic area, but not restricted to a specific arena or stadium.”
“Unfortunately, a lot of people just don’t know the rules,” Kornegay said. “It’s kind of a buyer-beware situation, because you should know the rules that you are betting into. The point of our rules is to make it where it’s not subjective. We go by the rules. People always say, ‘You only did that because you were going to lose a ton.’ Of course, that’s not true. Whatever the rules are, that’s what we go by.”
If you’re one of those who doesn’t know the rules, here’s a brief primer on some of the most often misunderstood rules. Please note that while the majority of rules are consistent from book to book, others do vary. Next time you’re at a sportsbook, ask for a copy of the house rules. If nothing else, it makes for good toilet reading.
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Rules Sports Bettors Should Know
- Both NFL and college football games must go 55 minutes to be considered action.
- If a game is stopped due to weather or other reasons before 55 minutes have been played, neither the side or total is considered action. This rule came into play in last year’s Florida State-Savannah State game. The game was stopped due to inclement weather in the third quarter with the heavily favored Seminoles leading 55-0. All bets were refunded.
- Professional basketball games must last 43 minutes to be considered action.
- College basketball games must go 35 minutes.
- In 2011, a brawl between Cincinnati and Xavier forced the game to be called with 9.4 seconds remaining. Both the side and total were ruled as action.
- Major League Baseball games must go five innings (4.5 if home team is leading) before being deemed official.
- If you bet on the Cubs to beat the Astros, and the game is rained out in the sixth inning with the Cubs on top, you win.
- Baseball games must go a full nine innings (8.5 if the home team is leading) for run line and totals bets to be considered action.
- For example, if you bet the Cubs run line and Over 8 and the game is rained out in the sixth inning with the Cubs leading 9-0, both bets are canceled.
- Hockey games must last 55 minutes to be considered action.
- In Motor Racing, the driver must start the race for action. Wager is on the driver only, not team or car.
- In golf, the golfer must tee off to start the tournament for action.
- Teaser ties equal refunds.
- This is one of the rules that vary, but most shops will at least refund any teaser wagers in which one of the games ends in a push.
- If a bettor places a three-team wager, wins two of the bets and the other one ends in a push, the teaser will be paid at odds of a two-team teaser.
- At the Wynn, however, teaser bets that include a push are refunded. Executive director John Avello says that will change next year, after the book’s technology is updated.
- At some shops, teaser bets that include a loss and a push also are graded as refunds. It’s particularly important to confirm the teaser rules and payouts at your book of choice.
- Overtime periods are counted in the final score for totals.
- Overtime periods are included in second-half bets.
- No refunds on futures wagers, unless otherwise specified.
- Money-line parlays, like those in baseball, are calculated by multiplying the decimal equivalent for each team’s money line in the parlay by the amount wagered. Maximum payoff on any single money line parlay is 200/1.
- Sportsbook tickets are honored for 120 days after the day of the event.
- Many Vegas sportsbooks will not let you buy on or off the key number of 3 in football.
- All bets are final. Once the ticket is printed, it’s an official bet. (Mistakes can be corrected at the window at book’s discretion.)
- Reminder: Check your tickets before leaving the window!
Note: The majority of the above rules are directly from the SuperBook’s house rules. Please check your sportsbook’s rules carefully to avoid confusion.
COMMON OFFSHORE RULES (Some apply in Vegas, too)
- Wagers made against an obvious erroneous line, even if a result of human error, may be ruled no action or voided.
- Correlated plays, those where one outcome directly affects another, are not allowed. (This is especially common when parlaying props.)
- Football parlays involving a single game are permitted if the ratio between the side and total is greater than 3-to-1.
- In golf futures and head-to-head matchups, wagers on golfers who do not tee off to begin the event will be graded “no action.” In matchups, if you bet on a player who tees off but withdraws mid-round, you’re out of luck. It will be ruled as action. (Call it the “Peter Hanson rule.”)
- Dead heat rules apply in golf. (You should familiarize yourself with them.)
- In tennis, a match has action once a ball is served at some books, while at others, a set or even two sets is required. All bets will remain pending until completion, regardless of delay, next-day completion, etc.
- If games are canceled or suspended in Grand Salami wagers, the bet will be graded “no action.”