Coronavirus: How books are handling pending futures bets

WIth the college basketball season coming to an abrupt end, and the NBA and NHL suspended, here is how sportsbooks are handling pending futures bets.
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Sportsbooks are refunding all futures bets on NCAA basketball, but NBA and NHL futures bets -- wagers on who will win the NBA title, Stanley Cup, conferences, divisions, MVP and more -- are merely "on hold" until the leagues decide whether to resume their seasons.

"They're still 'live' until they actually cancel the season," Jeff Stoneback, director of trading for MGM Resorts International sportsbooks, told SportsLine.

Added William Hill US: "All bets remain 'action' as long as a winner is officially declared."

Season win totals are a different story.

"For that they've got to play the full schedule," Stoneback said. "Those would be refunded if they don't play the full schedule."

The Westgate LV SuperBook also requires NBA teams to play 82 games to pay out season win-total bets, while Caesars Sportsbook requires NBA teams to play at least 81. FanDuel and PointsBet, however, said they would pay out bettors whose teams already cleared their win total, even if the rest of the regular season was canceled.

For example, the Grizzlies are 32-33 and passed their 27.5 over-under with ease. Same for the Thunder (40-24), who are way over their 31.5 total. If the regular season is cut short, many books would refund those bets rather than pay them out.

Books remain open, though with shorter hours and far fewer employees. Customers can still bet on horse racing, UFC and NASCAR, and futures in many sports, but not MLB win totals. Those have been taken down until it's determined how long the season will be.

But the biggest impact came with Thursday's cancellation of the NCAA Tournament -- the biggest wagering event in sports.

"The way the sports world reacted," Stoneback said, "this thing is really serious. It's something we've never been through before."

Larry HartsteinSenior Analyst