MLB Betting Rules for Shortened Games: When Bets Do — and Don’t — Get Refunded
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
- Many sportsbooks have changed rules for delayed and shortened games for the abbreviated 2020 season, requiring them to go 8.5 innings before becoming official for betting purposes.
- That's instead of the normal five innings games need to go to be final for bettors, even if MLB declares it an official game.
- Moneyline bets have traditionally been official once the game goes five innings, but wagers on the over/under, team totals and/or runline get refunded if the game doesn't go the full nine innings -- even if the game has already gone over.
Editor’s note for the 2020 season:
In such an unprecedented season, both Major League Baseball and bookmakers have unique rules. For example, any game that gets suspended before five complete innings will resume at that point at a later date instead of starting over.
Many books are also requiring a game to go a full nine innings (or 8.5 innings if the home team is leading) for action on a side (similar to standard total rules) instead of the usual five. If the game is not completed, all bets will result in a push.
As always, check your specific book(s) to familiarize yourself with their specific rules.
Originally published July 24, 2018:
Imagine sitting down on Monday and deciding to bet on the Pirates runline (+1.5 runs) at +125. You saw too much value on a Pittsburgh team that had won nine straight games.
And you weren’t afraid to take on Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, as the two-time Cy Young winner hasn’t looked like himself lately. So you locked in your bet and were feeling good.
After a short rain delay, neither team scored in the first inning, but then Josh Harrison hit a two-strike, two-out homer to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead.
— MLB (@MLB) July 24, 2018
The Pirates added another run in the second to go up 4-0. You could almost smell the money that +1.5 ticket would bring home. That score held until a second rain delay in the third inning.
Now, you started to worry.
Two primary wagering rules apply when baseball games get called early:
- Full-game moneylines become official once the game goes five innings — or if the home team leads after 4.5 innings.
- In contrast, wagers on the over/under, team totals and/or runlines don’t become official until the teams complete nine innings — or the home team leads after 8.5 innings.
(Note: These should apply at most legitimate shops, but always check the rules of your specific book.)
When play resumed at “The Jake,” you still held out hope none of this would apply.
The Pirates picked up right where they left off, tagging Kluber for three more runs in the top of the fourth to go up a touchdown. It suddenly turned into a Steelers-Browns game.
The Pirates maintained that margin into the sixth inning, then things got mildly dicey when the Tribe loaded the bases with only one out. However, starter Trevor Williams wiggled out of the jam without any damage.
Holding a +1.5 ticket with a seven-run lead through six innings is as good as it gets.
But then a THIRD rain delay! It suddenly hit you that they might call the game after a third delay in the seventh inning of a blowout. You knew neither team would protest much.
So you waited …
And waited some more, while frantically monitoring radars, MLB Network and social media.
You eventually saw the game was called, meaning you wouldn’t cash your Pirates +1.5 (+125) ticket — despite officially winning the game 7-0! Instead, you simply got your money back.
Over 8.5 bettors also weren’t pleased, as they also settled for a refund. While you can’t assume a game will go over, it likely would’ve cashed. At least the over didn’t already hit, which would’ve been even worse. I previously wrote about fixing that exact scenario, which has happened before.
Unless you bet the first-five innings or either moneyline, you had your bet refunded — even if you bet Pirates team total over 3.5, the worst beat of them all.
On the flip side, those who bet the Indians -1.5, Pirates team total under 3.5 or even the under 8.5 couldn’t be happier, as the (likely) losing wagers got refunded.
(If you had all three of those, go buy a lottery ticket tomorrow.)