As legal sports betting pops up in various states, those new to sports wagering are working on getting up to speed. There’s a lot to take in, the odds to bet types and much more.
While devoting time to pick winning bets seems like an obvious first step, you shouldn’t overlook the rules of sports betting.
Many legal sportsbooks in Illinois share a lot in common regarding guidelines; however, you should watch out for some quirks. Read on as we explore what rules for sports betting you need to know.
Basic sports betting rules in Illinois
First things first, there are specific rules in Illinois when it comes to sports betting. It’s all part of the legislation that was passed in 2019. These rules cover who can legally bet on what sports and so on:
- Users must be 21 years or older to wager on sports.
- There is no in-state residency requirement, but users must be within state lines to use Illinois sportsbook apps and websites.
- Bets are only permitted on sporting events, so there’s no wagering on entertainment fare, such as the Oscars.
- You can’t bet on in-state college programs online, but betting on other college football and basketball teams is permitted. You can only bet on in-state college teams in person at retail sportsbooks.
- If you’re employed by a sports league, you won’t be able to place bets on that sport.
- A person who is on a self-exclusion list for gambling will not be able to play.
Also, keep in mind that you should always be taking your business to sportsbooks that are legal and regulated in the state. All of our recommended places to play meet those guidelines, and the Illinois Gaming Board keeps an up-to-date list of approved operators online.
What are house rules?
Each legal, regulated sportsbook has a clearly defined set of rules that cover numerous aspects of the book’s operations. Known as the house rules, they lay out what bettors need to know on topics such as placing bets or settlement of results.
All sportsbooks list their house rules on their website. For example, DraftKings Sportsbook has a dedicated section labeled “General Betting Rules,” while BetRivers Sportsbook a “Sportsbetting Rules” link in the page’s footer.
The rules are there so that you know what to expect as a sports bettor. While many of them are basic and relatively standard knowledge for bettors of all experience levels, others are a bit more complex and cover random and unexpected situations that could arise.
For each sportsbook you plan to play on, it’s good practice to review the house rules and any other terms and conditions. By doing so, you’ll not only know what to expect but also potentially save yourself from confusion or frustration when a random occurrences arise.
General sports betting rules
The general betting rules will cover the placement of bets. They outline when bets are considered live action, situations that may lead to changes or voided wagers and much more. Here are the standard rules you need to know:
- All bets placed in advance of an event are considered live as soon as the event gets underway. If the event is not completed as advertised or shortened to a point where a winner can’t be declared, then bets will be considered void and refunded.
- In the event of a delay or postponement, the bet may remain active as long as the contest is expected to be completed in a reasonable time frame, such as within 24-48 hours. When it’s a complete cancellation, bets will be voided and refunded.
- Illinois sportsbook odds and lines may change after you place your bets, but you’ll be locked in at the posted numbers at the time of placement. The only change would come via a complete cancellation, in which case the bet would be voided.
- For player props, placed bets will be live if the player suits up, but voided if the player is scratched prior to game time. Futures bets on individual players may be void in the case of a season-ending injury.
- The terms and conditions for each bet type appear in the sportsbook house rules. It’s the responsibility of the user to know how they work. If you place a bet in error, you must address it with the sportsbook immediately, and are subject to its discretion.
Before placing any bet you are unfamiliar with at an online sportsbook or app, you should fully understand the terms and how it will be settled. If you take the time to do that, you’ll gain a sense of whether it works for you and your wagering strategy.
Bet settlement policy
Bet settlement covers all of the ins and outs of how sportsbooks pay out on wagers, such as when bets are official and determination of the final result. Much of what you need to know is straightforward, but unusual circumstances can arise. Here’s some additional information:
- All bets are settled based on official league data and statistics. In the event that the contest is not completed or enough of it hasn’t been finished to determine a result, the bet may be voided or held open if the game will end soon.
- Since results and settlement are based on official data, the sportsbook will not entertain complaints based on what the user feels is an error in judgment or a bad call. The result is the result, for better or worse.
- Sportsbooks will treat spreads and totals wagers that land exactly on the number — i.e., a spread of three points, 204 total points — as pushes. There is no winner, so you’ll receive the bet amount as a refund. You can treat it as a tie for tracking purposes.
- Sportsbooks settle bets based on the odds at the time you placed the wager. Any movements in one direction or another will not have any bearing on your bet’s potential payout.
- Sportsbooks will not settle futures bets until the result is actually in the books, so be sure to have a long-range perspective going in. In the event of the complete cancellation of an entire event or season, the sportsbook will void and refund the bet.
For same-day events, settlement happens quickly after the event becomes official. In the event of a multi-day competition, the sportsbook will settle the bet upon total completion. On futures wagers, the result needs to be final before you receive a payout on any winning tickets.
Sports betting terms and conditions
The sportsbook terms and conditions can be all-encompassing and touch on a number of categories. However, there are also some things to know:
- The sportsbook reserves the right to void wagers that bettors have placed at odds that it posted in error. It doesn’t come up often, but mistakes happen even on the sportsbook side from time to time.
- If a customer has a complaint with a book, the first step is to attempt to resolve it via available customer service options. As needed, you can also file a complaint with the Illinois state gambling board.
- In the event that a sportsbook finds that a customer is ineligible to play — i.e., underage, excluded or prohibited party, etc. — the user account will be closed. If this happened due to an error on the part of the sportsbook, you could certainly pursue a resolution.
- For bets that customers have entered after the event has gotten underway — or after the opportunity has passed with live sports betting — the sportsbook will void the wager and is not on the hook for any payouts.
- Syndicate betting, in which several users team up to place a series of bets, is prohibited. If the sportsbook suspects that you’re engaging in such an activity, it can suspend your account until a review is completed.
Terms and conditions at online sportsbooks and apps are lengthy and filled with legalese. As such, many users don’t take the time to digest what they say fully. You should take the time to do so, either at the time of account creation or soon thereafter.
Other sportsbook rules and regulations
The previous three categories cover the majority of what you need to know. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that there may be some anomalies that come up that all sportsbooks don’t treat the same. Examples include:
- How much of the game needs to be completed for the sportsbook to consider it official.
- The way the sportsbook handles player props for injuries that come up during a game.
- The length of postponements or delays for which it will still consider bets to be active.
After you gain a bit of seasoning, it’s normal to find that sports betting is pretty routine and what happens is par for the course. That said, strange situations can and will pop up, so it’s a good idea to educate yourself on how the sportsbook handles such things.
Betting rules for different sports
In addition to the general house rules, sportsbooks will also have regulations in place for individual sports. Much like with the other rules, terms and conditions, it’s typically lengthy and filled with lawyer-speak.
Naturally, the rules protect the sportsbook from liability, but there are some key bits of information on how the book handles bets and settlements when it comes to the major sports. Here are some of the highlights:
- Football (NFL/NCAA) and Basketball (NBA/NCAA): Review how the sportsbook handles player props for players who fail to suit up or play, or injuries during a game.
- Baseball (MLB): Bet types can vary, including a listed pitcher option, so be sure to review before clicking submit.
- Hockey (NHL): Wagers can revolve around regulation time only or include extra time. Once again, be sure to review before placing hockey bets.
- Soccer: In addition to straight winners, there is a “draw no bet” option in which soccer bets are treated as a “push” in the event of a tie.
- Golf: Most books require at least 36 holes of a tournament to be completed in order to settle bets.
- Tennis: The majority of tennis wagers require at least one set to be completed before the sportsbook considers it official.
- NASCAR: Races that have been shortened due to weather or other events but are then deemed official by the ruling body will be settled accordingly.
- Fighting (UFC/Boxing/MMA): Bets on postponed fights can be considered live for 30 days but voided entirely if a fighter is replaced.
While these rules cover many of the top situations you have to watch out for, we must stress the importance of reviewing the rules of the sportsbook. Sportsbooks take great pains to dot all of the i’s and cross all of the t’s, so the answer to those unexpected and unforeseen circumstances are almost always covered.
Bottom line on sports betting rules
Just as there are rules for each of the games and events you can wager on at legal, regulated sportsbooks, there are also rules for betting. Sportsbooks keep a full set of house rules on-site, as well as general terms and conditions.
The responsibility of knowing how things work falls on you. The top online sportsbooks do a decent job of laying out all the information. You’ll usually see a dedicated section for house rules and terms and conditions with info also available in the help area.
By taking the time to familiarize yourself with the workings, you can save yourself some confusion — and potentially even frustration — down the road. While many sports betting results and happenings are clear, others aren’t always as apparent.