How Do Shortened or Cancelled Seasons Affect Futures and Prop Bets?

The sports betting market has been very quiet in recent weeks due to most sports leagues being temporarily paused because of the coronavirus outbreak. For sports investors, this is, of course, a disappointment, but luckily it only means a temporary pause in opportunities instead of catastrophic losses to the values of portfolios.

One question that has been in the minds of many sports investors is what happens to all the futures and props that people have invested in.

When talking about futures and props in the sports betting market in this context, we have to distinguish between the various types of investment opportunities that are available, because the current situation affects them in different ways.

So, let’s look at three of the most typical types of investments and break down the possibilities of what’s going to happen next.

Season win totals

Team specific season win totals are a very common and popular type of investment. Basically, investors can choose to go over or under the number of wins for a team that bookmakers are listing before a season starts. As is the case with most over/under opportunities, the odds for either side are usually listed at -110. 

In the NBA, season win total opportunities might look like this, for example:

 

Milwaukee Bucks 57.5 wins

LA Lakers 50.5 wins

 

Let’s say that you had invested in a portfolio of NBA win totals and already had the chance to make a bunch of MLB win total investments as well for the upcoming season. The NBA season is currently suspended, and the start to the MLB season has been postponed. What will happen to these investments now?

This is probably the trickiest one out of all the investment types we’re covering. Most sportsbooks are currently saying that they are keeping win total investments open for now while waiting for further guidance from the leagues that have postponed play.

This is understandable since nobody currently knows how the situation will play out. Depending on how things develop in the coming weeks, it could still be possible that the NBA and the MLB are able to complete their full regular seasons.

The likelihood of that happening might be low though according to many experts, and we might be looking at shortened seasons. If that would be the case, many sportsbooks would rule out and refund all season win total investments due to having rules in place that all regular season games must be played in order for these types of investments to count.

For some investors, this could be a bad beat due to having win total investments that have already crossed the threshold or were extremely likely to do so. 

For example, the win total we listed for the Lakers above at 50.5 wins was the real number you were getting from bookmakers before the start of the season. Currently standing at 49 wins with 19 games remaining, the Lakers were almost 100% certain to exceed that win total. 

Some sportsbooks have taken a more customer-friendly approach and stated that they will pay out any season win totals that have already been fulfilled, while refunding others if seasons are indeed shortened. Now’s a good time to observe which bookmakers are treating customers the best and remember that when choosing where to take your action.

Season awards

Who’s going to be the MVP, the rookie of the year, scoring champion, or the coach of the year? This category covers investments in who will claim various season awards.

In this category, bookmakers list odds for individuals based on how likely they think their chances of claiming a trophy are. 

Let’s take another example from the NBA and look at MVP odds from before the season was suspended:

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo -325

LeBron James +200

 

For these types of investments, the future looks to be much clearer compared to season win totals. If a season is not fully cancelled and awards will be handed out by leagues, the investments stand.

This could be bad news for investors who have recently taken long shots. To use the NBA MVP example above, many analysts working in sports media had recently started talking about LeBron James having an actual case for MVP this year. 

While Giannis Antetokounmpo’s case looked very clear when looking at the numbers, the public’s opinion on LeBron’s chances had started to turn, and his odds had gone down significantly in the weeks leading up to the suspension of the NBA season. 

The narrative was that LeBron still had time to catch up, especially since Giannis had just suffered a knee injury, and should have a fair chance at the award if the Lakers would end up having the best record in the league. 

The consensus among NBA analysts right now is that most of the remaining regular season games are not likely to be played. This in turn effectively kills LeBron’s MVP case.

If a league season should be cancelled completely, investments will be returned if no awards are handed out.

Season winners

Who will win the league or a conference? Which teams will make the playoffs? This category looks to answer those questions and basically plays out in similar fashion to season awards. 

For example, these were the odds for winning the NBA championship that three of the favorites were getting before the season was suspended:

LA Lakers +200

Milwaukee Bucks +225

LA Clippers +300

Again, if a league season does not get fully cancelled and a champion will be determined, these types of investments stand. And in case of a full cancellation, investments will be refunded.

Hopefully that answers your questions regarding your futures investments! 

While we wait for sports to return, make sure to check out John Todora’s new book – “Zero Correlation Investing – The Score Metrics Secret”. It is currently on sale for a limited time, so go grab a copy and get prepared!

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