Sports Betting Rules: Popular Terms & Rules

We explain some of the most popular terms and rules used in sports betting so that you're fully prepared to place your bets.

Jon Young
Jon Young

Last Updated: 2024-06-07

A. Tzamantanis

5 minutes read

Sports betting rules needn’t be confusing with our basic guide. We’ll show you how to navigate the best sports betting sites so you understand your parlays and point spread from your moneyline and matched bets. We’ll also pinpoint a few house rules you must follow when betting with any online sportsbook. See our free betting tips for more insights.

Common Betting Types 


Here are some of the most common betting rules on sports for placing wagers. In general, all bets are valid for the end of regular time (full-time) in a game or match. Your bet won’t be carried forward if a game goes to extra time.


The futures bet is a wager placed on the outright winner of a league, championship, or tournament, oftentimes months or years ahead of time. 

Special Rules: The odds are fixed from the moment you take the bet. Your bet won’t be altered if the sportsbook changes the price. Cash Out may be available so that you can settle the wager early. 

In addition, season-long futures bets may be declared void if the number of teams/players has changed, or the competition format has changed in any way. 


The moneyline is a straight Home-Draw-Away winner bet on a single game. 

Special Rules: The moneyline is only valid for regulation time. Any extra time played won’t count toward settling your bet. 

Point Spread

The spread is a bet on one or other team to win after being assigned a points handicap or advantage. All handicaps are calculated based on the result from the beginning of the game to the end. 

You can also bet on ‘Teasers’ at some online sportsbooks. These are point spread bets that let you choose your own spread – the sportsbook adjusts its odds accordingly. 

Totals (Over/Under)

This is a wager on the total points or goals in a game related to the sportsbook’s point. As with 1X2 or moneyline bets, official match data is used to determine the final result. 

Special Rules: Overtime may apply in American Football markets


A parlay is a series of bets that must all win for the wager to come in. You can also combine several bets in a system of doubles, trebles, and so on. 

Special Rules: Sportsbooks limit the number of games you can combine in one series of bets. 

Correct Score

This is a wager on the correct score in a match or game. Added-on time in regular time (e.g. injury time) is considered part of the game and your bet will stand. 

Special Rules: The correct score is determined at the end of regular time (e.g. extra time is not included). 

Team Props

A team prop is a bet on one team that doesn’t relate to who wins the game. For example, you can bet on Total Team Goals/Points, or the Team to Lead at Half-Time. 

Special Rules: Games must be completed for a team prop to stand. 

Player Props

A player prop is a bet on an individual player’s performance. The wager can cover total goals, cards, or stats like Total Rushing Yards and Total Passing Yards. 

Special Rules: Sport betting rules on player props are strict. Bets are void and stakes are returned if a player doesn’t start the game. A bet stands if a player starts a match but doesn’t complete it. 

Other Important Rules at Online Sportsbooks  

bet365 American Football rules – sports betting rules

Source: bet365

All good online sportsbooks employ some common betting rules. You’ll also find a comprehensive list of sport betting rules on the sportsbook.

Bet Acceptance

A sports bet is effectively a contract between the sportsbook and you, the gambler. The odds will be honored if they have been advertised on the sportsbook and a legitimate bet has been accepted and confirmed. You can’t withdraw the bet once it’s been placed, unless the sportsbook accepts it in error.

Bet Settlements

Bets are settled according to official scores and results from the sport’s governing bodies (e.g. NFL, NHL, MLS, etc). The sportsbook can also find information first-hand via live streams.

Bet Deadlines

There’s no ‘past posting’ at online sportsbooks, that is, placing a bet after a match or game has begun. Wagers will be locked out if you try to place them once the game begins.

Cash Out

A Cash Out lets you settle a bet early before the game ends. Cash Out is usually restricted to real-money bets only, never free bets. The Cash Out is settled at the odds stated by the sportsbook when your wager is settled.

Sporting Event Cancellations

A bet is declared void if a sporting event is postponed or cancelled. Your stake is refunded, but your wager may stand if the game is rescheduled within the next 24-48 hours. You may also have your bet voided if the sportsbook was experiencing technical difficulties when you placed the bet.

Licensed sportsbooks are also looking for syndicate betting and will void bets if they suspect foul play. A syndicate comprises a group of bettors who only place bets through one customer. 

In-Play Betting

Live betting carries its own set of strict rules. You can accept the odds of any market after the sportsbook has changed it in real-time. In general, markets are momentarily frozen after a goal to give the sportsbook time to adjust the odds. Once the in-play market has been unfrozen, you’re free to place your bet. 

Maximum Payouts

Online sportsbooks impose minimum stakes for all bets and payout limitations. That means your total payout (minus the original stake) may be limited for both single bets and multiples. As with all betting rules, you’ll find the maximum payout levels listed on the sportsbook’s T&C page.

Final Thoughts

Sports betting rules are implemented to deter abuse and to clarify wagering for honest bettors. Ensure you understand the rules for every bet you make before you place it. You’ll find full betting rules on sports at all our top-rated online sportsbooks.