NFL Betting Rules at Online Sportsbooks

As NFL games play out, both the players in that game and people betting on it have rules they need to follow. Yellow flags may not fly in your direction, but your wagers can suffer if you fail to follow the rules.

It’s on you as a bettor to understand the rules at legal online sportsbooks. We have you covered in this guide. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about NFL betting rules.

What is necessary for an NFL bet to have action?

If you hear bettors say they have action on a game, that simply means that they’ve placed a bet on it. In advance of game time, the bet is pending. After the opening kickoff, it becomes a bet that is now live.

So what happens in the event of a game cancellation? We’ll cover that in a bit. For the abridged version, you may not have action on that bet any longer, as the sportsbook will likely cancel it (depending on the specific bet).

You’ll receive a refund of your bet if that ever comes up. For now, just remember the following: If you’ve placed a bet before the game, and that game goes live, you have action on the contest that will settle at the outcome.

What happens if there’s a date or venue change?

Changes to the NFL schedule are pretty rare, but they can happen. A game that’s scheduled for a Sunday could be pushed to Monday, or inclement weather could force the league to move a contest to a new city, for example.

Since the NFL is a weekly sport, there’s generally no betting impact on games that take place within the same schedule week. For games that move to a later date in the season, sportsbooks will generally void and refund any bets. Odds for that contest will be back up during the new week.

If the venue changes, betting odds for that ame will remain up at online sportsbooks, but you can expect to see some movement in the posted numbers due to perceived changes in home-field advantage.

What about cancellations and shortened games?

As opposed to outright cancellations, the NFL will move the date or venue of a game as necessary. NFL games play through the elements, whether rain, snow or wind. The exception to that is lightning in the vicinity of the stadium. That has led to some delays through the years, but the contests resumed once the lightning passed.

For betting purposes, top sportsbooks such as DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars have the same basic note in their football betting rules: for NFL bets to be final, at least 55 minutes of game action need to be completed.

What would happen with a condensed or cancelled NFL season?

In the unlikely event of the cancellation of an NFL season, sportsbooks would void any pregame bets for the next slate of games. You would receive your bet back. Season-long NFL futures bets would receive the same treatment since the final result didn’t happen.

If the regular season ends up just truncated instead, it’s more of a mixed bag. Super Bowl, division and conference winner bets would settle as normal. Sportsbooks would void bets on NFL team win totals and season-long props, however, since those lines depend on a full season of play.

NFL house rules by bet type

Beyond the basic types of bets, there are also rules for all of the main NFL bets that you should be aware of. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about these football betting rules and regulations:

Point spread rules

Standard pregame bet that depends on the final scoring margin.

  • The spread or odds may move after you place your bet, but you’ll be locked in at the time you wagered.
  • Settlement depends on the official final score.

Moneyline rules

Bet on which team will win the game.

  • Unless expressly noted otherwise, the wager will use the final game result, including any overtime.
  • For a game that ends in a tie, the bet will be a push, and you’ll receive a refund.

Over/under rules

The sportsbook will set a line for the total combined score of the game, and you can wager whether the actual total score will be over or under that line.

  • Totals and odds may move after you bet, but your wager will be based on the numbers at the time you wagered.
  • Settlement is based on the official final score of the game.

Live betting rules

Bet on games as they’re in progress, with odds and lines that will change depending on what’s happening.

  • If there’s no definitive outcome within the bet’s time frame, the wager is a push.
  • Fourth-quarter and second-half bets may include overtime.
  • Sportsbooks may void next-play bets if the listed play doesn’t occur, such as a team going for a two-point conversion in lieu of an extra point.

Parlay rules

Combine multiple wagers from the same game or multiple games.

  • Sportsbooks may cap the maximum legs per parlay, potentially at 10 to 12 or more.
  • You can’t combine all wagers. NFL betting rules may vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, but you’ll see a note on the bet slip for disallowed combos.
  • You can’t bet on both sides of an outcome on a single slip.

Game prop rules

Bet on various side aspects of a game.  

  • If you bet on something happening, and what ends up happening was not an option to bet on, your bet will result in a push.
  • Quarter, half and double result bets may or may not include overtime. Check the bet terms to find out for sure.

Player prop rules

Wager on the accomplishments of individual players within a game.

  • Sportsbooks will void and refund bets on a player whom the team has announced won’t be playing.
  • At the majority of books, players must play at least one snap for props on them to have action.

While there’s a lot of uniformity within sports betting, it’s important to remember that there may be some slight differences at various books, such as DraftKings, BetMGM and FanDuel. As such, be sure to review the house rules for wherever you plan to bet on the NFL.

Does overtime count for NFL bets?

Yes, unless the bet terms expressly state otherwise, NFL betting results include what happens in any overtime periods. While the majority of bets cover the game in its entirety, there are a couple of exceptions:

  • Second-half bets may or may not include overtime.
  • Bets that a sportsbook lists as 60 minutes or regulation only will not include overtime.

Outside of the above, you should assume that your bets include overtime. Games can end in ties during the regular season as only one overtime period takes place. Postseason games continue until there is a winner, which may require multiple periods.

How do sportsbooks grade and settle NFL bets?

Settlement of NFL bets takes place as soon as the outcome is final. For pregame bets, you can expect to see settlement happen quickly after the final whistle, with winnings arriving in your account as soon as that happens.

Sportsbooks settle wagers based on the official game results and statistics. As a result, they won’t entertain any complaints if you disagree with a ref’s call, for instance.

Ties can happen during the regular season, so there may be no winner or loser as far as the moneyline goes. Meanwhile, spreads and totals can land exactly on the listed number, such as a final score of 27-23 for a four-point favourite in a game with the over/under line at 50 points.

For all of the above cases, bets will result in pushes, which is simply a betting term for ties. You will receive a refund of your bet in full. As for settlement times, expect to see any winnings within a couple of minutes. If there’s a lengthy delay on a payout for a bet that you’ve clearly won, reach out to the sportsbook’s customer service for an update.

What’s a correlated play for NFL betting?

When it comes to betting on the NFL, a pearl of wisdom from the real world applies: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. While sports bettors would love to have an easy way to boost potential winnings, the chances of that happening are minute.

Sportsbooks generally frown on correlated plays. Essentially, this refers to an instance where if one thing comes true, another is likely to, as well. For example, a full-game spread bet favouring the Green Bay Packers by 7 points while the first-half line is at Packers -3.5.

Sportsbooks tend to not allow plays that have a high correlation such as the above, but the lines have started to blur a bit as same-game parlays have become more popular.

That said, it’s not the wild west. Sportsbooks will still draw the line, and they will note any wagers that you can’t combine on your bet slip. If you stumble across two outcomes that are highly correlated, don’t expect to be able to get the wager to go through.

Minimum and maximum bets at online sportsbooks

Many online sportsbooks have low minimums and allow bets at micro-stakes such as $0.10 to $0.50. Maximum bets can vary by wager and sport, but books often have specific rules in place on a maximum payout you can receive:

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

If you go to place a bet for which the payout would be over the limit, such as $100 on a massive 10-leg parlay, you may not be able to. You’ll have to adjust your bet for a lower potential payout.

Rules for sportsbook promotional offers

There are rules for claiming sportsbook bonuses, as well. Be sure to have a good understanding of the terms and conditions for any of the offers that you’re interested in. See review pages and terms & conditions for:

Can sportsbooks refuse wagers?

While sportsbooks like to take in as much action as they can on live NFL odds, they do reserve the right to refuse wagers. For the average bettor who plays recreationally or even at a decent clip, this likely won’t come up too much, but here are the circumstances where it could come into play:

  • If you try to place a bet that’s for more than the sportsbook accepts.
  • Also if you attempt to place a wager that would generate a payout greater than the maximum the sportsbook allows.
  • The sportsbook has removed what you wanted to bet on from the board.
  • If the sportsbook has banned you from betting on it.

Last but not least, your account has to have enough available funds to cover the wager that you’re attempting to place. If none of the above applies, your wagers should go through, but you can always reach out to customer support with any questions.

What happens if a sportsbook makes a mistake?

Similar to refusing wagers, sportsbooks technically have the right to cancel pending wagers at any time. Generally speaking, they would only do so in the event of an egregious error, such as if they inadvertently listed a clear NFL favourite as the underdog or for obviously incorrect betting odds.

For errors that are minor in nature, the sportsbook may honour the bet as a goodwill gesture to users, but it does still have the right to void it. For bettors, the best advice is to have a full understanding of the rules and general sportsbook practices.

What do you do if you have a dispute with an online sportsbook?

If a legitimate situation of this nature comes up when betting on the NFL, your first step should be to contact customer support for that sportsbook and attempt to resolve it.

For legitimate complaints, expect to receive assistance or at least additional clarity. However, don’t expect the book to accede to unreasonable requests, such as paying out on a bet that turned into a loss in the final seconds.

If a dispute goes further than that, you have the right to contact an overseeing body for sports betting in your province, such as the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Legal online sportsbooks will provide direct links on their websites and apps to where you can go for complaint resolution.

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