Now that Massachusetts online sports betting is legal, Boston Bruins fans can finally wager on their hometown hockey heroes.
Sportsbooks have some rules when it comes to NHL betting odds. You don’t want to lose money because you misunderstand a sportsbook’s rules. Here’s a quick walkthrough of all the basic sportsbook rules for NHL bets.
What is necessary for an NHL bet to have action?
Fifty-five minutes of play must have elapsed for NHL games to be official in the eyes of sportsbooks. Any bets on an NHL contest that reached at least 55 minutes and had a result should stand unless the sportsbook states otherwise.
All bets on a specific period require the full 20 minutes to occur. Any futures bet requires a percentage of the season to occur unless it is a percentage-based bet.
When a sportsbook voids a bet for any reason, that bet is “no action.” An example would be a futures bet on a team’s total wins but the team doesn’t meet the minimum game threshold. Sportsbooks also have the power to refuse a bet for many reasons, including suspicious behavior or an error.
Basic NHL betting rules
Here are the basic house rules for wagering on the NHL at online betting sites in Massachusetts:
Date or venue changes
Teams must play the game on the scheduled date for regular-season NHL games. Otherwise, the sportsbook will void the bet for that day. The location must also stay the same, so if the Boston Bruins have to play an emergency game in Hartford, Connecticut, it would nullify any bets people had placed on the game when it was set to take place at TD Garden.
Shortened or canceled games
Depending on the sportsbook, bets may remain valid on a canceled or suspended game if the game continues within a specific time frame. For example, some sportsbooks set the limit within 24 hours, but for others, it might be within 72. Sportsbooks will void a bet if the date for the game changes outside of the sportsbook’s time restraints.
For NHL player prop odds, the rules may be different depending on the sportsbook. Some places may count the bet if the player has officially logged time on the ice during a shortened game or has caused you to win a bet that isn’t time-dependent, such as scoring a goal in the game.
An NHL player prop involving someone who hasn’t touched the ice in a shortened game will be void unless the sportsbook states otherwise. Shortened games under 55 minutes may cause related bets to have no action.
Any futures bets related to a shortened season are often at the mercy of the sportsbook. If a sportsbook says that 100% of a team’s scheduled games must occur for the bet to count, the bet will not have action. If it’s a lesser percentage, the bet will stand assuming the team has played at least that many games.
Bets on conference champions, division winners and the overall Stanley Cup winner are valid as long as the series or season concludes, even in a shortened season. However, a shortened playoff series may change this, depending on the sportsbook’s rules.
NHL betting rules by wager
Here are the NHL sportsbook rules for betting on hockey games for the main specific wagers:
The hockey version of a spread bet. So if today’s Bruins odds say they are -1.5 goal favorites for the game, they must win by at least two goals for puck line bets on them to win. If the Bruins are +1.5 underdogs, they cover the spread if they win outright but also if they lose by just a single goal. A line at 1.5 is standard for puck line bets.
A moneyline bet on a team requires that team to win the game for the bet to win. Overtime and shootouts count unless the bet specifies otherwise. A shootout awards the winning team one goal toward its score, not the number of goals scored in the shootout.
Over/unders are bets on how many total goals the two teams will combine to score in a game. Overtime periods and shootouts count here. When a game enters overtime or a shootout, it means there will always be at least one more goal.
All live bets that you make for a period apply only to that specific period. The period also must play to the end for the bet to have action. Third-period bets do not carry over into overtime periods unless the sportsbook states otherwise.
The results of overtime and shootouts count toward most team-based bets, such as the next team to score. However, while stats like overtime goals count toward a player’s stats, shootout goals do not.
Betting on a game will include subsequent overtime and shootout results unless you bet on a draw option or an “in regulation time” option. In the event of a postponement during overtime or a shootout, the game generally has the same rules as any other shortened game.
Parlays and same-game parlays
If a sportsbook voids any leg of a parlay or same-game parlay, the rest of the parlay may still have action, with new odds that account for the absence of one of the legs.
A player who enters a game at any point is live for a period-specific bet, even if that player cannot play in that specific period. For example, a third-period goal-scorer bet would end up void if the player on whom you bet left the game due to injury or ejection in the first period.
Game and player props
Prop bets on specific games have the same rules as any other NHL game bets. If an event occurred but the game was incomplete, the sportsbook may void the bet.
For player props, they all settle based on official data and statistics from the NHL. If a team rules out a player before the game, sportsbooks will remove props on that player from their boards. Injuries and playing time aren’t a factor, so the bet is live as soon as that player steps on the ice.
How sportsbooks grade NHL bets
A graded bet is any bet that a sportsbook has marked as a win, loss or push. Payouts don’t occur until the sportsbook grades the bet. For a game, that can mean after the clocks hit zero. For futures, it usually means the end of the season, even if it’s a winning bet before then. A prop bet can sometimes be more ambiguous, leaving it difficult to grade.
Legal sportsbooks are much safer in cases like these because they’re bound to laws regarding fairness and transparency. A legal sportsbook may also welcome the good press of paying out on a disputed bet.
What happens when sportsbooks make mistakes?
If a sportsbook posts incorrect betting odds, several things may happen. The most likely is that the book will correct the mistake and offer a refund or deny the payout if it didn’t notice until bettors had already won. Sportsbooks usually have policies in place to protect themselves from errors. Sometimes, people get lucky, and the sportsbook awards them the full payout anyway.
A famous example came in January of 2022 when Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors started a game while injured to celebrate Klay Thompson’s return from injury. Bettors placed under bets on Green-related props because sportsbooks kept options on him, although it was well known that he wasn’t playing the entire game.
BetMGM and FanDuel ended up paying out all winning bets in full, even though Green didn’t log a full minute of playing time.
What happens to bets when stats change after the game?
All bets use official stats, so when statistics change, bets can, too. A player retroactively receiving an assist can turn a losing bet into a winner, but whether a sportsbook pays out is up to the book. It can choose to uphold the first decision or pay winning tickets retroactively.
What are correlated plays, and why can’t you make them?
Correlated plays are when you make two bets that have a close relationship. Essentially, if one of the bets wins, it’s very likely the second one will, as well. An example would be parlaying the Bruins on the moneyline and the puck line as underdogs.
If Boston, or any underdog, wins on the moneyline, it’d have to cover the puck line, too. Sportsbooks typically do not accept correlated plays because it could cost them financially.
What are minimum and maximum bets for the NHL?
Sportsbooks will often have a minimum and maximum on how much you can wager. These limits may change depending on the sportsbook and the type of bet you are placing.
At BetMGM, for example, you can place bets starting at $0.50, while at FanDuel the minimum bet is $5. While some places, like BetMGM, don’t have a maximum bet amount, sportsbooks can refuse a bet for being too large, at their discretion.
Rules for sportsbook bonuses
Many sportsbooks have special offers to entice people to sign up, such as deposit bonuses. Typically, though, bettors will not be able to withdraw the bonus money right away. Books will tend to require you to wager a multiple of the bonus (sometimes just 1x, sometimes more) before the money and any winnings from it are yours.
- FanDuel MA Sportsbook bonus: Refundable first bet up to $2,500.
- Caesars MA Sportsbook bonus: Up to $1,250 in first-bet insurance.
- BetMGM MA Sportsbook bonus: Refundable first bet for up to $1,000.