What is Line Manipulation at Sportsbooks?

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Occasionally Sportsbook Review receives complaints from sports bettors who are accused of the practice known as "line manipulation".

There are many wild ideas floating out there about what line manipulation actually refers to, if it's the act of arbing, steam chasing, bonus whoring and betting both sides: such confusion surfaced in a recent sportsbook forum post made by a player who was accused of this practice.

This report breaks down what line manipulation is really all about.

What is line manipulation
Line manipulation is making a bet for the sole purpose of moving the line.

Example: Let's say a bettor handicaps that the bookies are wrong and an NBA total trading at 196.5 should actually be at 194. The player then max wagers at 196.5 and shortly thereafter the line adjusts to 195, after a succession of more max wagers the line is all the way down to 192 points, and the player begins hitting the over at 193.

Using betting tools like the NBA half-point calculator, players can measure the value of each total point and further maximize +EV (expected value).

At online sportsbooks known for catering to the average public or recreational bettors, this type of practice is likely to draw an account closure, or wager limiting.

Sportsbooks that accept professional action may not have a problem with this at all, especially in a major market like the NBA or NFL.

When line manipulation back-fires
If a player starts teeing off on stagnant markets, which depending on the online sportsbook may be managed automatically, for the sole purpose of moving the line, this player is going to quickly find that their action is unwanted and be treated as more of a pain in the rear.

An example here is a player continually wagering the under on 3rd division soccer as soon as the line comes out, re-betting tiny enough amounts to see if the amount of one-sided bets will move the line. Then once the line moves once or multiple times after cycling through rinse/repeat mode, the player hammers the intended side for all he can, and because the limits are lower than major sports, invites a buddy to do the same and split the profits.

Players often complain about small wagering limits on obscure markets, it's the type of player who is described above that causes online sportsbooks to protect themselves with smaller limits than that offered with major markets.

When a sportsbook drops the hammer
Sportsbooks can close accounts for whatever reason they please. However, barring extreme cases of outright fraud (such as insufficient deposits or stolen funds), booked bets must be paid. As long as a sportsbook pays a player their whole balance, then there are no issues. In the case of players being in the midst of rolling over a sportsbook bonus, then the industry standard is for the bonus to be prorated.

Players who require assistance with sports betting sites that they believe have unfairly handled their accounts are encoruaged to submit a sportsbook complaint form with SBR.

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