How Does Your Sportsbook Handle Future Wagers with Cancellations?General News
Sports bettors and sportsbooks have been adjusting to life during the coronavirus pandemic for almost nine months now.
First, they dealt with the wide-scale shutdowns of sports back in the spring. Then, they dealt with the return of sports in entirely different situations. The bubble environments for the NBA and NHL, and no fans in MLB stadiums forced bettors and sportsbooks alike to approach the games from a different angle.
That has continued through this fall with the NFL and NCAA football. What is normally a huge factor in football betting, home field advantages have been practically non-existent. Some teams have banned fans altogether, while others are limiting fans to a rather small amount compared to normal.
Now, with the coronavirus spreading again throughout the country, bettors and sportsbooks are having to deal with another aspect of the NFL and NCAA football -- canceled games and their effect on futures bets.
For those bettors who have solid futures wagers and are wondering what will happen if games (or a season) gets canceled, read on.
What Sportsbooks Did in the Spring
The good news for sports bettors is that they don't have to be as anxious now as they may have been in the spring. That's because there is a blueprint for how sportsbooks plan to handle futures wagers in the event that games are outright cancelled.
When the MLB announced in mid-June that it would only play a regular season of 60 games, many of the major sportsbooks announced they would refund all futures wagers on team win totals. The house rules at most of these sportsbooks stated that 160 games at a minimum needed to be played for those wagers to count.
Some of the major sportsbooks in Las Vegas also decided to refund all futures wagers on playoff props and player props. Others let those prop wagers stand, since a season was still technically happening.
The futures wagers that stood across the board were those on teams winning the league pennant and the World Series. It didn't matter how many games were played in the regular season, as long as a National League, American League and World Series championship actually happened.
These sportsbooks took the same approach with the NHL and NBA, which had shortened seasons.
What Will Sportsbooks Do This Fall?
Thus far, the NFL has only had to reschedule games due to a COVID-19 outbreak. They haven't had to cancel any outright, although that could change in the coming weeks.
The Baltimore Ravens games versus the Pittsburgh Steelers for Week 12 was already pushed back twice, in fact. The league is hoping it will still be able to play it on Wednesday afternoon of this week.
It's likely that the NFL will have to deal with more outbreaks among teams for the stretch run. And once teams get eliminated from playoff contention, the league won't have as much motivation to reschedule any games that need to be moved. In addition, there won't be nearly as much leeway in terms of timing to move games.
So, how will sportsbooks handle futures wagers if games do get canceled? It may be different for each sportsbook, so make sure to check your book to see what its house rules are.
Generally speaking, if the season doesn't get cancelled outright, futures wagers on the Super Bowl winner, MVP and such will likely be honored.
Team totals wagers will likely be refunded if a team doesn’t play all 16 games, though. This could be good if your team has next to no shot at covering your wager, but it could also be bad if they've already won or lost enough games to guarantee your bet will win.
More Potential Chaos Coming
Sports bettors and sportsbooks are likely to face similar situations as more sports get set to start their season. NCAA men's basketball just recently began its season, and there's no guarantee it will be able to finish. The NBA will begin a shortened season later this month, and the NHL hasn't come to an agreement with its players on a return-to-play plan just yet.
If you're looking to make a futures wager on any of these sports, make sure to check your sportsbook's house rules to see what will happen in the event of game cancellations. It could be an important factor in what bets you place, and where you place them.