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Here’s what COVID forfeits would mean for season win total bets

A forfeit does not equal a win at Las Vegas sportsbooks, but bettors are advised to read the fine print, especially when it comes to season win totals.

The NFL and college football have raised the possibility that teams will forfeit games this season if they are not able to play because of coronavirus outbreaks. That’s a further step from last season, when some college games were canceled and several NFL games were moved around the schedule.

But even if a team is awarded a victory because its opponent is not ready to play, bettors won’t cash in. Sportsbooks are unanimous that game bets will be refunded in the case of a forfeit, under traditional rules that state a football game must go 55 minutes for action.

That’s mostly the case for season win totals as well. Most sportsbooks said Friday that a forfeit would not count for a win total bet, and a game that was not actually played would result in a refund. (Win total rules usually stipulate that a team must play its full schedule of games, 17 this season for the NFL and usually 12 in college.)

Those rules come up almost every season in college football when a nonconference game is canceled because of the weather. Even if a team has already clinched going over or under its win total, if it doesn’t play a full schedule, the bet is refunded.

“As always, there’s going to be a lot of education and communication for our guests,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said.

The South Point, Station Casinos and the Westgate all said season win total bets would be refunded if a game is forfeited. The Golden Nugget and William Hill did not respond to an inquiry.

MGM Resorts director of trading Jeff Stoneback said he was “not sure yet how season wins will work.”

One sportsbook going its own way is Circa Sports. Sportsbook director Matt Metcalf said Circa placed a stipulation on its NFL season wins that forfeits count for a team’s win-loss record. Circa doesn’t have college win totals on the board yet.

Westgate sportsbook director John Murray said he’s not too worried about forfeits affecting the season.

“No way NFL teams forfeit games,” he said via text message. “College … maybe.”

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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