With so many sports putting things on hold amid COVID-19 concerns, futures bets are now in limbo.
All the major sports leagues throughout the country have issued some sort of change related to the situation.
Some, like the NBA and the MLB, have put their seasons on hold indefinitely. Others, such as the NCAA, have canceled things altogether.
However, plenty of bettors throughout Indiana have already placed futures wagers on those leagues. Since it could be months before sports resume and gamblers get the results of those bets, Hoosiers have been left waiting to see how sportsbooks will handle the situation.
Most Indiana online sportsbooks keeping futures active
With no specific statewide rules in place for a situation like this, each of Indiana’s sportsbooks can tackle the fate of futures bets however they like.
The reactions from each sportsbook generally follow the lines of predetermined company policies.
Indiana’s sportsbooks have already refunded wagers on now-canceled events like March Madness and XFL games. However, futures wagers on suspended events are being handled differently. Bettors will have their money tied up for some time.
BetMGM is in that group as well. All four of those sportsbooks are waiting on more news from leagues before they make a final decision.
Here’s a excerpt from BetMGM’s statement on the situation:
“In relation to any league futures or season wagers, we request your patience. When we have more clarity, we will make an announcement on how these bets will be treated.”
In the case of the NBA, those bets remain active because the season is suspended, rather than canceled.
For example, if you placed a futures bet on an NBA game, those sportsbooks will be holding onto your stake for awhile since theoretically, the game will be made up at some point.
That situation could be a frustrating one for some. Since it isn’t clear when play will resume, bettors might have their money tied up for months.
Keeping futures active could put gamblers in a tough spot
So, what’s the argument for refunding all futures bets rather than keeping them active?
Keeping all types of futures bets active could potentially be unfair to the bettors.
Using the NBA again as an example, a gambler might have placed a basketball bet on an Indiana Pacers game that was originally scheduled to take place recently.
If that bettor placed a Pacers bet based on something like how many rebounds Domantas Sabonis would grab, that presents a unique situation for the sportsbook.
If that game doesn’t take place until July, the situation could be drastically different than it would have been if the game was played at its originally scheduled time.
Maybe Sabonis is out of shape by the time play resumes? Maybe he’s just rusty after several months without basketball?
Changing circumstances like that could swing the result of the bet since there’s so much time in between when it was placed and when the game is played.
It’s just one more thing that sportsbooks will consider before making decisions like this.
Sportsbooks might also decide to refund game-specific bets like that while keeping futures on things like the eventual NBA champion active. However, each sportsbook has the discretion to make those decisions. They reserve the right to void or refund almost any bets that they please.
BetRivers and BetAmerica haven’t announced their plans for futures wagers yet. Both could easily follow the same path as the rest of the state’s sportsbooks.
Until sportsbooks know exactly when and how sports will resume, it will be hard to make a final decision on futures.
Indiana doesn’t have rules in place for futures bets
Since the Indiana Gaming Commission hasn’t issued any guidance for them, sportsbooks can call the shots on their futures wagers.
The books are under no obligation to refund gamblers for futures bets, even if the circumstances change down the line like in that Pacers’ example.
Some sportsbooks might go down that road anyway, regardless of the lack of obligation. There’s just no way to know how things will shake out for sure until more information comes to light.
If the NBA announces that its season will resume in August, the sportsbooks might decide that that’s too far down the line for comfort. In that case, they could end up refunding bettors rather than keeping things active.
It’s all subject to change as the situation develops since things are in uncharted waters right now. As sports leagues release more information, things could change over the coming weeks.
Ultimately, gamblers who placed futures wagers will have to wait until sportsbooks make a final decision.