The online sportsbooks, just like any other business in the service sector, will have plenty of house rules to which their customers must abide. And while the experienced bettor knows to check out those rules beforehand, many beginners simply assume that they are just a bunch of gibberish the sportsbooks write just because they don’t have anything better to do. And then the time comes when they find out that those rules are quite strictly enforced…Don’t place yourself in such situation – make sure that, at the very least, you become familiar with the general rules of the sportsbook, not to mention the betting rules for your preferred sport. Here we will try to shine a light on the most important general rules (or “house rules”) at the online sportsbooks, although you are highly encouraged to always check the actual wording at your particular sportsbook of choice.
One of the first rules at the sportsbooks you should definitely pay attention to is the standard business “right to refuse”. And while most offline businesses will hang a sign that they can refuse service to anyone (the legality of which is always in question), the online sportsbooks take it a bit further. The betting sites not only reserve the right to refuse service, i.e. any bet, but most of them also note that they reserve the right to limit any bets without prior notice. Why is this important? Well, while this sounds like the typical “legalese”, in reality it is one of the most used rules by the sportsbooks to weed out certain types of bettors. For example, arbitrage bettors, those using computer programs and scripts, bonus abusers, and in some horror cases, even sharp bettors and bettors who are just very good at placing the right wagers at the right time. That’s why the history of the sportsbook is very important – you don’t want to end up at a sportsbook that would limit your bets to $5 the minute you start winning, it just doesn’t make any sense.
And while we are on this wavelength, another rule the sportsbooks tends to enforce vigorously stems from the play-through (rollover) requirements of their promotions or bonus offers. You can find out more about what is the rollover if you are new to online sports betting, but in a nutshell, when you take advantage of one of the bonus offers at the betting sites, you are required to make a certain amount of wagers before you can withdraw that free money. Makes sense, otherwise people would just claim the bonus and withdraw right away. But if you are a beginner, you may think that you can beat the system by simply using what is known as “reverse activity”, i.e. betting both sides of a wager just so you can reach the rollover requirement with little to no risk. As you can see, there is a term for it, which means that the sportsbooks are well-aware of this tactic and keep a close eye for it. Most sportsbooks will have rules specifically stating that this type of betting is considered an attempt to defraud the sportsbook, and most likely your account will be closed right away.
Something else to keep an eye for, although it happens very rarely, but when it does it’s quite the stinker, is the “line error” situation. Sometimes a line will be posted on a game or event where the odds are clearly a mistake. Bettors who happen to catch it would quickly take advantage of the error (it’s only natural), but the sportsbooks have a rule for that. All of them would void all such bets, when they are deemed to have been placed on erroneous odds. Yeah, it kinda blows that you couldn’t pull one over the sportsbook, but such is life. Again, this will seldom happen, but when it does, you bet that some of those bettors would go online and try to make a big stink over it. But that’s not the biggest issue, the problem is when some shady sportsbooks begin to use this rule as a way to get out of paying on large wagers. This wouldn’t happen at the top sportsbooks, but some of the questionable ones would use the “line error” quite often to skip on paying out big winners.
Naturally, there are thousands of other rules, specific to each sport, which the betting websites would post for their customers to adhere to, and they may differ from sportsbook to sportsbook. We can’t’ cover them all in this article, but we highly encourage any bettor to peruse before placing wager, in order to avoid a surprise. And, of course, we don’t have to tell you that all sportsbooks reserve the right to change their rules at any time and without notice (advanced or otherwise). In general, this won’t really impact the customer often or a lot, but it’s a good practice to double check the sportsbook rules should you have any doubt about a specific wager or procedure.