Picture this: you’ve done all of your research and placed your bets before a game you’re really looking forward to. Life happens and you get sidetracked, but you log in to see how it’s going. You notice some extra money in your account that you weren’t expecting. After you start digging, you realize it’s not good news.
Few things in sports betting can be more frustrating than putting in a lot of effort for nothing. Cancelled bets come with the territory. While cancellations aren’t frequent, being prepared for the possibility can help save you plenty of headaches down the road. Here’s what you need to know.
Placing a bet at legal online sportsbooks
Before diving into the dreaded bet cancellation, here’s a quick refresher on how to bet online in Ontario. The industry’s top sportsbooks invest heavily on the tech side with the goal of providing a seamless experience.
After you log in and find what you want to bet on, you’ll see the odds for the main bet types. If you click through the main listing, any other available bet types will pop up. To place a bet, you simply click on the odds for your selection.
It goes right onto the bet slip once you do. Afterward, you just have to plug in your stake and verify that everything is correct. The sportsbook will display your potential return, and you’ll click submit to actually place the wager.
Once it’s placed, you can find your betting history on the website or app, typically in a section labelled “My Bets” or “Open Bets.” After the bet gets settled, it’ll move over to your betting transaction history.
Why do sports bets get cancelled?
If a sportsbook cancels a bet after it has been placed, rest assured there’s a good reason for it. As for-profit entities, they’re not in the business of just arbitrarily cancelling bets to keep customers guessing.
Here are the main reasons why it happens:
- Event cancellation or postponement: For many sports, complete cancellations of scheduled contests are rare, but it can happen. Postponements due to weather concerns or other circumstances are known to happen in certain areas. For a general rule, a slight delay or temporary stoppage in play shouldn’t impact your wagers. But a complete reschedule or outright cancellation will lead to bets being cancelled.
- Incorrect odds display: While sportsbook operators are very good at what they do, that doesn’t mean mistakes never happen. There are times when the odds display doesn’t align with oddsmaker intentions. Books reserve the right to cancel wagers that are placed at incorrect odds, but they generally only due so for a really egregious mistake, such as odds of +100/2.0 being displayed as +10000/101.0.
- A prohibited wager placed: If you go to place a bet at a legal online sportsbook that isn’t allowed, you’ll typically receive a message that the bet can’t be placed. While it doesn’t happen much, it’s possible a wager that’s generally not permitted could slip through the cracks, such as a parlay that includes multiple sides from the same contest. Once the book catches the error, the bet will be cancelled.
- Bet pulled off board: Bets can be temporarily pulled off of the board due to various circumstances, but you generally won’t have to worry about it being cancelled unless the event itself is off. For example, betting markets for a CFL game could be pulled as oddsmakers adjust to news that impacts the game. There are bets that can be completely pulled and cancelled as well, such as a season-long prop on a player that goes down to injury.
- Miscellaneous: Last but not least, there are various other random circumstances that could lead to wagers being cancelled. One of the more notable occurrences has to do with suspicion of fraud or concerns that a game isn’t on the up and up. For individual bettors, if you bet on the major leagues and sports, then there’s not much to worry about. But random overseas events can sometimes have match-fixing concerns.
While those are the main reasons, there could be an anomaly that leads to a bet cancellation. When a bet gets cancelled, the amount of your stake will be refunded to your account quickly.
Which sports are most likely to have cancelled bets?
The cancellation of a sports bet can come at just about anytime due to unforeseen circumstances. But some games and events are more prone to being impacted. Here are three specific areas to watch.
- MLB games: Of the major North American sports, MLB is the only one for which the postponement of games is commonplace. The vast majority of home stadiums are outdoors, and games can be called for heavy precipitation. The CFL and NFL could cancel a game due to weather, but it would have to be an extreme event.
- Outdoor events: Any other event held outdoors is also subject to the whims of Mother Nature. For example, golf tournaments could be delayed due to torrential downpours or heavy winds. Tennis matches could be postponed until the weather improves. Checking the forecast is a solid addition to any research routine.
- UFC and boxing: For combat sports, fight cards are booked pretty far in advance. Betting markets will open before the event as well. But as the fine print always says, cards are subject to change. If a fight gets cancelled due to injury, failure to make weight or any other circumstance, any placed bets will be cancelled and refunded.
Biggest factors to watch
As you gain seasoning with sports betting, you’ll get a sense of which games or events could be cancelled before you actually place your bets. The following three factors should make you perk up and pay attention.
- Weather: For many sports, the weather would only matter for really extreme circumstances, while others can easily be impacted. If you regularly wager on MLB, golf or tennis, then be sure to check the weather forecast habitually. Potential trouble spots will become readily apparent once you do.
- Venue or schedule problems: Once in a while, something can come up at a stadium or arena, such as faulty plumbing, and lead to a postponement. Weather also factors in here, as a state of an emergency situation could make travelling to a venue impossible. It’s pretty rare to have a random scheduling conflict that leads to a delay, but it has happened.
- Injury: For team sports, an injury to a single player simply means the squad has to adapt to their absence, as does the betting public. You don’t have to worry about bets being cancelled here with the exception of season-long player props. For individual sports, the absence of a participant could easily impact wagering and the odds.
Exceptions for team sports include the “listed pitcher” bet in MLB. If there’s a change in starters after bets are placed, wagers will be considered void and refunded. On the individual side, the absence of a single golfer will not lead to a tournament being cancelled. But any head-to-head bets will naturally be pulled.
The same holds true for tennis, NASCAR and UFC: the event will still go on, but bets specifically related to that participant will be impacted. If it happens to be one of the key favourites for an upcoming tournament or race, expect to see the odds temporarily pulled as oddsmakers adjust.
Can you cancel your own sports bet?
Bets are considered placed once you click the submit button, and they’re regarded as live once the game or event actually gets underway. Unfortunately, you can’t cancel the bet after it’s placed and in advance of game time.
If it’s a legitimate error, as in placing a bet that’s way out of range with your normal stakes, you can always contact customer sport at the sportsbook and ask them to help you out. They may do so as a goodwill gesture on a standalone basis, but don’t expect them to do it regularly.
While not exactly a “cancel” option, many books provide the “cash out” option once your bet has been placed. However, the initial offer will typically be for less than the stake of your bet. Still, there are times when you can cash out for the exact amount.
Mistakes happen to all of us, but you can limit them for placed bets by simply taking the time to review that all is well before you click the submit button. It takes just seconds of your time and is more than worth it as it can prevent unnecessary problems down the road.
What is a “push” in sports betting?
A push is sports betting lingo for a tie. For example, betting the moneyline on a game that winds up as a tie will be treated as a push. The same holds true for bets such as spreads and totals that wind up landing exactly on the listed number.
Using a CFL game as an example, if you bet on the Toronto Argonauts as three-point favourites over the Ottawa Redblacks, a final result of 30-27 in favor of the Argos results in a push. For the bet to be settled, the margin needs to be over three points in either direction.
Over in the NBA, if you bet on a total set at 209 points for a game between the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics, a final score of 109-100 means that bettors on both the Over and Under side have themselves a push.
When a bet is graded as a push, there’s no winner. The amount of your stake will be returned to your account. For those who track their betting results, you can treat it as a tie for record-keeping purposes.
House rules at online sportsbooks
All of the legal online sportsbooks have house rules that need to be followed. Some will have a dedicated section for rules on their websites or apps. Others will include them in the FAQ or help sections. Among other things, house rules cover what you need to know about how bets are placed or settled. Here are a few important points to remember.
- Bets will be considered action once the game or event gets underway. A slight delay will not impact the wager, but a complete cancellation or postponement will.
- Wagers will be settled based on the odds at the time of bet placement regardless of any changes in the numbers afterward.
- Sportsbooks will not entertain disputes on results you disagree with, such as an officiating call or miscalculated stat.
It’s the responsibility of the bettor to know the house rules wherever you play. Many of the rules are very basic and straightforward. Others cover circumstances that may only come up here and there. Be sure to take the time to review the house rules wherever you play so you have a full understanding of what to expect.
Tips for avoiding cancelled bets
There’s no way to completely guarantee one of your bets will never be cancelled, but you can certainly lessen the instances. Here are three simple tips that can help limit your cancelled bets.
- Watch out for strong possibilities of cancellation: If the forecast looks very uncertain, or there’s something else that could impact the contest, then you always have the option of taking a pass on the game or event. When it’s something that you really have to bet on no matter what, then accept the risk of cancellation and move along.
- Always double-check your bets before clicking “submit”: This is good practice regardless of the situation. You can limit the number of mistakes that you make by simply taking the time to review your wagers. On cancellations, if you know it’s a bet that will get blocked by the book, then why bother placing it?
- Understand the house rules wherever you play: Bettors need to have a full understanding of the rules of the road wherever they play. Once you do, you’ll be that much more likely to spot the potential trouble spots and then decide how you want to proceed. If you place the bet on something with an air of uncertainty, a cancelled bet is possible.
Sports Betting 101
- Alternate Lines Explained
- Best Leagues and Sports Teams to Bet on
- Hockey Betting 101: Puck Lines, Moneylines or Totals
- MLB First 5 Innings Bets vs. Full Game Bets
- NBA vs NFL Betting: Similarities & Differences
- Online Sportsbooks with Cash Out Betting
- Single-Game Betting vs. Parlay Betting
- Three-Way Moneyline Bets
- Touchdown Prop Bets
- Understanding Vigorish & How it is Calculated
- What are Grand Salami Bets?
- What is a Betting Exchange?
- Where Do Sports Odds Come From?
The bottom line
Bets can be cancelled by sportsbooks for various reasons, including the complete cancellation or postponement of an event or an error with the odds or bet placement. When a bet gets cancelled, it’s essentially the same as a push or tie.
Your betting stake will be refunded when it happens. If you’re not a fan of bet cancellations and want to avoid them as much as possible, review the above tips to limit the instances dramatically. Still, they happen to the best of us at times.