How Online Sportsbooks handle players betting bad lines

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A Sportsbook Review reader recently submitted a complaint involving the handling of an NHL prop bet.

The player wagered $100 on what was a clearly erroneous line: +325 odds for an NHL player not to score in the game.

The odds should have been reversed at -325, such that to win $100, a risk amount of $325 would have been necessary.

Instead, the player wagered $100 for a payback of $325 that a player would go scoreless.

When the player's wager was ultimately voided, he became irritated and stated that he did not know bad lines exist in the world of sports betting. The player believed that if a book hangs a line, however inflated it may appear, that it was intentionally displayed.

The situation brings up an interesting question: What is standard operating procedure when online sportsbooks inadvertently hang clearly off lines?

Read the small print
All online sportsbooks make clear in their terms and conditions that bad lines will be voided when discovered, though some include verbiage that they reserve the right to re-grade the wagers at the intended odds, although this is left to the discretion of the sportsbook.

The player ended up receiving a bonus of $31 (what he would have received if he risked $100 at the correct odds) to settle the complaint. However, the online sportsbook would have been well within their right to not offer any form of compensatory credit due to the rule in place, and consideration of how wide the error was.

Even online sportsbooks that offer smaller wagering carts in comparison to others spread a minimum of several hundred markets per week, including proposition markets, in-play betting markets, on top of all the regular straight up sides, money lines, totals markets, so human error is bound to occur.

Resist the urge to take a shot
Legitimately flipped odds are easy to spot and players should resist the urge to take a shot. Sportsbooks may be inclined to limit or ban a player who engages in shot-taking, though if a player otherwise has a clean bill of health he or she may not be shown the door for an unintentional mistake, as was the case in this example.

Exceptions to the rule
Let's say an NFL money line was hung at +175 all week, but a key player was ruled out and the odds changed to +210, and all but one online sportsbook updated their odds. Should a player's bet on the revised odds be voided?

In this example, commonly referred to as a linesman being "asleep at the wheel", it is unreasonable to void wagers for failing to stay on top of standard line movement. However, players will not endear themselves to their online sportsbook by repeatedly taking advantage of these opportunities where a human has most likely screwed up. If you value your sportsbook and are happy with their service, speed of payouts etc, it is best to avoid placing yourself in that scenario if you don't want to risk being booted over a single +EV opportunity. Smart handicappers should be able to beat the house legitimately without chasing steam and angle-shooting whenever possible.

If you are a player who has a wagering dispute with an online sportsbook, submit a sportsbook complaint form with SBR.

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