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Minimum Game Minutes Required for a Bet to Count

November 30, 2020
UNLV lights out game

A football game must have a certain number of minutes played in order for a bet on it to count as official. This is a sportsbook rule which rarely comes up. In fact, in my experience in the sports betting industry (23 years) I can only remember it coming into play once.

The year was 2002 and UNLV was hosting the Wisconsin Badgers. I don’t remember the actual spread but it was UNLV getting maybe 2 TD’s or so. The game was winding down and Wisconsin held a 27-7 lead. It was late in the 4th quarter and it was apparent UNLV was not going to cover. Suddenly the screen went black. Did the TV turn itself off? Nope. You could still hear the announcers talking.

Before long it was announced that there was a catastrophic power failure and the game was called shortly thereafter. Sports bettors suddenly wondered if their bet counted. This is when everyone learned about the 55 minute rule. Sportsbooks require that a game be played at least 55 minutes in order for there to be action. All bets were refunded. And if I remember, the sportsbooks were pretty happy as they had about 2-1 action ration on Wisconsin.

The conspiracy theories started flying mainly because the game was in Las Vegas. The one I heard was most was that someone who had placed a very sizable wager on UNLV had a friend or relative in the power company that would shut off the power before the 55 minute mark should he get the order to do so. This article by the Las Vegas Sun assures everyone that there was indeed no conspiracy and that the power actually did in fact fail accidentally.