Basketball Betting Rules at Canadian Sportsbooks

In the world of legal online sports betting, there are do’s and don’ts that all bettors need to follow.

Many of these rules are basic in nature and explain how you can place bets and whatnot. Others go deeper on specific instances that could come up and impact your bets.

We have you covered right here with what you need to know about NBA betting rules you’ll find at legal online sportsbooks in Canada.

When does an NBA bet officially have “action?”

Action is another way of saying that you have a bet on a game. For the bet to officially go live, the game needs to get underway as scheduled and play to the end, in general.

We’ll cover what happens for delays and postponements in a bit. In a nutshell, any major changes to the originally scheduled game will lead to “no action,” as in the sportsbook will void and refund your bets.

Sportsbook rules for NBA date or venue changes

In the event of game postponement, the sportsbook will remove the contest from the board. The sportsbook will cancel and refund any wagers that you placed before that happens. For a venue change that doesn’t impact the scheduled start time, you can expect to see some shifts in the game odds.

For the most part, a venue change will only happen when a game itself is rescheduled. As an example, if the schedule called for the Toronto Raptors to welcome the Boston Celtics to town, and the Raptors couldn’t due to an arena issue or some other reason, the game could move to Boston to take place at a later date. It could also simply take place later in the season on Toronto’s home court but with a whole new set of odds.

What happens if a game doesn’t finish?

Sportsbooks will take no more bets on a game in the event of cancellation or postponement. Bettors who placed their wagers in advance of that will receive refunds.

If a game ends with less than five minutes on the clock, bets may end up as action. Those with more time remaining will be no action. However, if the plan is to resume the game, action can still happen if it resumes within 48 hours of the original start time.

How sportsbooks deal with a season cancellation 

A complete cancellation of an NBA season would lead to sportsbooks pulling all bets associated with it off the board. This will include any pregame wagers, as well as futures bets. Bettors will receive refunds for any voided bets.

For a shortened season, such as from the original 82 games down to 40 or so, sportsbooks will void futures bets such as team win totals and player props, as those lines were based on a full schedule of games. However, bets on the NBA Finals winner and other outcomes that don’t depend on full-season numbers will remain action as normal.  

NBA house rules by bet type

There are also specific sportsbook rules for all of the different NBA bets:

Point spreads

Place a bet that incorporates the game’s margin of victory.

  • Bet settlement depends on the official final score of the game.
  • A margin that lands exactly on the listed spread, with the favourite winning, will be a push.


Bet on which team will win the game, regardless of the score.

  • Delayed games generally must pick up again within 48 hours of the initial start time to remain action.
  • Cancellation or lengthier postponement will result in voided bets.


Bet on the combined total number of points in a game.

  • Official game data and statistics serve as the final word for bet settlement.
  • Totals that land exactly on the listed number will result in a push.

Live betting

Wager on the game as it’s in progress.

  • Quarters and halves must finish for bets to be action.
  • For races to X number of points, sportsbooks will void bets if neither team reaches the target.


Combine multiple wagers on one slip.

  • For multi-game parlays, game cancellations will be void while the remainder of the slip will play out at adjusted odds.
  • Combo limits apply for same-game parlays and may vary by sportsbook.

Game props

Bet on smaller aspects of a game, generally separate from the final overall score.

  • Quarter and half bets depend on the results for that period of play.
  • When a non-listed outcome happens for a multi-choice wager, the bet is a push.

Player props

Proposition bets on the performance of individual players.

  • If a team rules a player out before the game starts, bets involving that player will be void.

Many of the rules for NBA betting are standard practice across the industry. However, there may be some quirks in how top sportsbooks like DraftKings Sportsbook in Canada, BetMGM Canada and Caesars Sportsbook in Canada handle things. As a result, you should always check the house’s basketball betting rules before you start wagering.

Does overtime count for NBA bets?

When you view today’s NBA betting lines at online sportsbook sites, the odds are generally for the game in its entirety, including any overtime periods in the majority of instances, but there are a few exceptions:

  • Bets on individual quarters and halves.
  • Fourth-quarter bets may or may not include OT.
  • Wagers that specifically appear as 48 minutes or regulation-only.

If it’s a bet that doesn’t include OT, you can expect the sportsbook to clearly indicate that. Outside of that, when you’re placing bets on NBA games, you should assume that the results and settlement will include what happens in any overtime periods.

NBA bet settlement procedures

Online sportsbooks settle NBA bets as soon as the outcome is final. When you win, you can expect to see your winnings in your account quickly. Slight delays can happen, but things tend to move quickly.

Official game results and statistics will dictate whether you’ve won your bet. While you may personally quibble with the final result, don’t expect the sportsbook to listen if you lose a bet because of a foul call you disagree with, for instance.

Ties can happen for certain bets, such as a point spread or total that matches the final score exactly. In these cases, the bet is a push. Since the bet doesn’t have a winner or loser, the sportsbook will refund all bets.

Can you make correlated plays for NBA betting?

Correlated plays refer to outcomes that are closely tied together, such as a team winning the fourth quarter and the overall game. Sportsbooks won’t allow you to place bets that are highly correlated, as it’s a lose-lose situation for them.

NBA same-game parlays continue to grow in popularity. Bettors now have many more options for what they can tie together on one betting slip for a single contest. However, limits do apply, and sportsbooks won’t allow certain combos. Online sportsbook algorithms will quickly pick up on bets that the book doesn’t allow, and you’ll receive a notification on the slip.

Minimum and maximum bets for NBA games

If you want to play at micro-stakes such as $0.10 or $0.50, many online sportsbooks will gladly take your business. On the other side, sportsbooks tend to set the limit at a maximum payout:

  • Caesars: $2 million
  • BetMGM: $1 million
  • DraftKings: $1 million
  • FanDuel: $1 million

There also may be house limits that depend on the type of bet or sport on which you are betting. The slip will immediately notify you if the book doesn’t allow you to place the wager.

What are the rules for sportsbook promotions?

Promos and bonus offers are common at online sportsbooks, but not all such promos are equal. Follow the link to look at some of the best options and the rules for each:

Do sportsbooks refuse wagers?

A sportsbook has the right to refuse a wager, but it’ll generally only do so for specific reasons. Outside of the below instances, it’s not something that will come up all that much:

  • You wager more than the sportsbook allows for that type of bet.
  • The bet would result in a larger payout than the book allows if you ended up winning.
  • The bet is no longer available.
  • You’re not permitted to play at that sportsbook or have been banned.

If your bet is fine on the above criteria, review the bet and see if the odds and betting lines have changed. Once you accept the difference, you should be good to go. If you’ve done that and you still can’t bet, customer support can provide you with an answer on why your bet won’t go through.

How do sportsbooks handle mistakes?

Sportsbooks can slip up here and there, such as posting the wrong odds or line. Once the sportsbook discovers the error, it will pull that bet off the board and adjust it. The book will also void and refund any bets that used the incorrect number.

The book may not do this in the event of a minor mistake, but don’t expect that to happen if it’s an error that would open up a substantial liability. As always, payouts that look like they’re too good to be true very often are. Depending on the error, a sportsbook could turn it around and make a goodwill gesture to pay out when the mistake is on the small side.

Dispute resolution at an online sportsbook

All of the top legal online sportsbooks have customer support departments that you can reach out to for assistance. They’re there to help if you’re having trouble with the software, getting a deposit or withdrawal to process and more.

If you’re not getting the assistance that you need, you can always attempt to speak to a supervisor to straighten things out. Sportsbooks want you as a customer and will work with you for reasonable complaints.

For matters that escalate to the point that you’re simply getting nowhere — or you’re not receiving a satisfactory answer — you have the option of reaching out to the regulatory body for sports betting in your province.

A legal sportsbook will have a direct link to the proper authorities on its website. From there, you’ll be able to log a complaint. This is a protection that all customers have in place when playing at legal sportsbooks. That said, complaints need to be for a valid reason, such as a failure to pay out on winning bets or funds that are inexplicably missing from your account.

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