There’s a little-known baseball sportsbook rule that can leave bettors scratching their heads when checking scores and their slips.
If a game is suspended in the middle of an inning, anything that happens the next day – and in the first half of that inning – may not matter. According to the fine print at online sportsbooks, a game that is suspended later than the conclusion of the fifth inning will be decided by the score at the end of the latest full inning completed at the time of the postponement. If the visiting team was able to score in the top half of the inning and maintains that lead when the game is resumed, those events will be wiped clean.
This was seen early in the 2021 MLB season in a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks. The host Reds held a 4-3 lead at the end of the seventh frame. The D-Backs then scored twice in the top of the eighth inning to take a 5-4 lead. Play was called due to rain and snow before Arizona wrapped up the 5-4 win to complete nine innings the next day. Reds moneyline bettors were deemed winners by BetMGM Sportsbook because of this rarely seen rule. Some of those that bet D’Backs moneyline were shocked to learn they did not win their bet.
Baseball sportsbook rule fine print
Checking out the regulations BetMGM, DraftKings Sportsbook, and FanDuel Sportsbook, all three have a rule for deciding baseball moneyline bets for games that are called early. All three revert to the final score at the end of the last full inning and will disregard anything that may happen in the top half of the next inning, even if the lead changes.
Each book varies greatly though in how they handle moneyline tickets for suspended games that will resume on a different day.
If a game is called or suspended, the winner is determined by the score after the last full inning, unless the home team scores to tie or take the lead in the bottom half of the inning, in which case the winner is determined by the score at the time the game is called.
For Money Line bets to stand, a minimum of at least 5 full innings must be played, unless the team batting second is leading after 4 ½ innings for bets to stand. If the game is called after this point is reached, and a result is issued, then the winner is determined by the score after the last full inning, or at the time the game is called if the home team ties the game or takes the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
In the event of a suspended baseball game, a bet is declared void on a cancelled or postponed game which has not started, or in the case of a result not having been issued within 12 hours of the scheduled start time.
In the event of a shortened game, results are official after (and, unless otherwise stated, bets shall be settled subject to the completion of) 5 innings of play, or 4.5 innings should the home team be leading at the commencement of the bottom of the 5th innings (the “4.5 Innings Rule”). Should a game be called, if the result is official in accordance with this rule, the winner will be determined by the score after the last full inning completed (unless the home team score to tie, or take the lead in the bottom half of the inning, in which circumstances the winner is determined by the score at the time the game is suspended).
With MLB games being suspended and continuing the following day, however, these bets are still active.
What it means for bettors
There are two sides to every coin and every bet slip. What was a bad beat for Diamondbacks backers was a win for those with a bet on the Reds.
The rules for suspended games that will resume differ at each book. Know the rules for each before placing your bet. And perhaps, check the weather forecast.