In the absolute vast majority of cases, the result of a sporting event is unequivocal, undeniable and evidential.
A horse crosses the line in first place, one football team outscores another, golfers sink the final putt… these are universal truths that are logged by the sport’s governors.
When it comes to betting, all flutters are settled ‘as per the official result’, but what happens in those rarest of instances when this official result is changed after the fact?
Explaining the Official Result In Betting
To avoid uproar and anarchy, bookmakers have it written into their terms and conditions that they settle their bets based upon the official result as confirmed by some kind of authority in each sport.
So the official results are those you see reported on the vidiprinter (football) or published in reputable horse racing media such as the Racing Post.
Bookies use terms that protect them in all instances, so even when an official result isn’t available they will settle bets ‘by reference to all publicly available evidence’ – that is terminology used by a number of leading firms.
Others declare that they can settle bets using their own ‘reasonable opinion’, where there is any confusion or lack of transparency in the actual final result.
This applies to betting outcomes that are clear and obvious. But what about when the official result is open to interpretation.
Rules for Shot, Tackle and Pass Betting
A goal is a goal. A corner is a corner. A red card is a red card.
But when is a shot a shot? What happens if the goalkeeper makes a save from a ball that has rebounded off somebody’s backside? What if the wind catches a long-range pass and sends it towards goal?
All of these eventualities are hoovered up by Opta, the football data company that all UK bookmakers use as their guide to settling markets.
So, if you bet on shots on target, passes completed, tackles made and other subjective markets, the bookies will take their official result from Opta’s stats feed.
What Happens When an Official Result Is Later Changed?
There are scenarios when the official result will be changed. Often, this will be down to the disqualification of a horse/team/player, and so the outcome that has been recorded as official will be updated accordingly.
Now, this is something of a grey area for punters. The terms and conditions of most bookies will protect them from having to resettle bets if they don’t want to, and so if your bet would be settled as a winner as per the ‘new’ result, you won’t necessarily be paid out as such.
That said, betting is very much a PR-centric game in the modern world, and in some high-profile cases your bet might actually be re-settled as a winner at the bookies’ discretion.
Happily, if a bookmaker settles your bet as a winner that, due to a result change, effectively becomes a loser, it’s rare that a bookie will reach into your online account (or come knocking on your door at home!) and take their money back.
Th exception to all of the above is where an official result is changed within 24 hours of the event finishing due to a reporting error – all bets will be re-settled accordingly.
First Past the Post Betting
Here’s an anomaly you might want to consider.
Although it’s something of an old-fashioned concept, many bookmakers still offer ‘first past the post’ betting – that is, they pay out on the horse that crosses the line in first place, regardless of any subsequent result changes.
There are some exemptions to the rule, which include where a horse takes the wrong course, where a jockey has carried the incorrect weight and even some sub-markets like betting without the favourite. These instances are settled via the official result only.
One tip, if anything in this article concerns you, is to seek out bookies that pay out on the ‘double result’ – here, punters are paid out on both first past the post and adjusted official results, regardless of whether your selection is the recipient or the victim of a disqualification.
Can Bets Be Resettled?
So can bets be resettled? The answer is yes, as long as your bookmaker is willing to act in good faith, or you have backed a horse with a double result bookie.
However, you should note that there are instances where a betting site does NOT have to resettle your bets where covered by their own terms and conditions – and if they aren’t concerned about negative publicity on social media!