Postponed & Abandoned Events

Tearing Up ContractFew things are more frustrating in sport than when an event gets postponed and this is even more annoying when it happens at the last minute and you have had a bet on the event in question. Just to make things even worse, in our experience, events tend to get postponed when we’ve got a really cracking bet on at great odds, although we accept that could be our selective memory at work! Just as, if not more, irritating, are abandoned events, where the match, game, tournament or event started but was called off before the scheduled finish for whatever reason.

Here we take a look at why events might get postponed or abandoned and what happens to your bets if they do. This can (and does) vary from event to event, sport to sport and bookie to bookie, but we’ll take a look at the most common scenarios. That said, if you are able, the best and easiest course of action in the event of a postponed or abandoned event is to simply contact the bookmaker with whom you struck the bet and ask them what will happen to your wager.

Fixture Called Off - Does My Bet Stand or Is It Void?

Sporting events can be cancelled, postponed or abandoned for a variety of reasons. Exact rules vary from sport to sport and between operators on bet settlement but as a general rule of thumb:

  • In fixtures with fixed times such as football or horse racing, if completion on the scheduled date at the scheduled venue is not possible and a result cannot be fairly or officially given, bets will be void.
  • Where an official result is given after sufficient play, such as with cricket's Duckworth-Lewis adjustment, bets will stand.
  • In tournament matches that can have retirements for example through injury such as tennis, there will be minimum play requirements before a walkover result is honoured for betting purposes. Where these aren't met, bets will be void.

Why Events are Postponed or Abandoned?

Events can be postponed or abandoned for a wide variety of reasons and almost all of them can apply to either the postponement of an event prior to its commencement or the abandonment of a match or contest after it has got underway. The most common reasons, though this list isn’t exhaustive, are:

  • Weather - the weather is probably the most common cause of abandoned and postponed events, with rain, snow, freezing conditions, wind and just about any other extreme weather showing that Mother Nature is more than capable of disrupting our sports bets!
  • Injury or illness - injury or illness can cause either of our dreaded outcomes, more commonly in individual rather than team sports, but possibly in team events too, for example in the case of a very serious injury (or even a death)
  • Crowd trouble - crowd trouble and pitch invasions are another possibility when it comes to postponed but more probably abandoned sporting events
  • Security concerns - security worries, for example over a possible or existing terrorist attack are increasingly relevant

Football Postponements That Hit The Headlines

In 2012 the FA cup match between Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers was stopped and then abandoned before half time after the collapse of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba. The player suffered a cardiac arrest but was saved. The game was replayed ten days later.

More recently the Borussia Dortmund team bus was attacked with explosives prior to a Champions League quarter final tie with Monaco. The suspect was quickly arrested and the match was replayed the following day.

What Happens to my Bet if a Match is Postponed?

Circled Date On Calendar

As with the reasons for postponement and abandonment, what happens is often also the same in both eventualities, but we shall consider the two scenarios separately for the sake of clarity, starting with postponed contests. As previously said, this can vary, according to the sport, the specific market within the sport and even from one betting site to another.

However, the most general rule is that bets, more than likely, will be voided, with stakes returned to your account. Again, as a general rule, the longer the time between the original scheduling of the event and the new postponed date, the more likely you are to have the original bet voided, rather than it being allowed to stand.

Time Limits May Apply

Most bookies, on most sports, have a time limit of between 24 hours and 48 hours. If the event, be that a game of football or a horse race, is rescheduled within that timeframe, often the original bets will be allowed to stand. However, with racing, the most common rule is that bets will be allowed to stand on a race provided the overnight declarations stand. In this scenario, where the race has not been reopened, initial bets will invariably remain open. That said, some betting sites may allow you to request a refund (effectively voiding the bet) prior to the start of the new race.

Some bookies also have a further time restriction, which tends to be more stringent, on how long the authorities have to announce any new date. For example some bookmakers may say that the new start date and time must be announced within 12 hours of the postponement, such that even if the event takes place within the designated timeframe mentioned previously, bets will be made void if the new date is only announced outside of this stricter deadline.

What Happens to my Bet if a Match is Abandoned?

Again, this is something that varies and there is even more variation than when we consider postponed events. Many sports, for example golf and cricket, will go on the official result. For example, if a golf tournament is cut short by bad weather, bets on the outright winner will almost always be settled according to the official result. Where no winner is announced, bets will invariably be void. Similarly in cricket, where play is abandoned due to rain or bad light, bets will be settled based on the match result, whether that is decided by the Duckworth-Lewis method or some other means and again, if the match is declared to have no result, bets will become void.

In some instances an abandoned event will follow the same protocol as a postponed contest, with bets potentially standing on the rescheduled event, assuming the bet had not already settled and the new date is within the relevant timeframes the bookie stipulates.

More commonly an abandoned event will lead to a void bet, with stakes being returned and those bettors who felt their bet was looking good left licking their wounds, whilst those whose bets were not doing so well are thankful for a lucky escape. However, there are yet more variables, with certain sports having very specific rules concerning the amount of play there has been in relation to the legitimacy of the bet and again these vary from bookmaker to bookmaker.

Check Your Tennis T&C's

The best example of this is probably tennis. In the event of an injury to one player it might be assumed that the bets would stand on the match result, despite the abandonment, and be settled according to which player progressed. However this is not the case and there are a range of rules, with some bookmakers voiding bets entirely no matter what. In contrast others may deem the bets valid if just a ball has been served, whilst some require that at least one set be completed and yet others that two sets must have been finished.

What the example of tennis shows more clearly than anything else is that unless you have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the rules at all the bookies, the easiest way to get an answer regarding your bet is simply to contact the relevant bookmaker’s customer service team. Almost all of the best betting sites have 24/7 customer support, with most offering a live chat facility, so getting a fast and definitive answer couldn’t be much easier.

What Happens if an Event is Cancelled?

Having said that, when it comes to events that are cancelled altogether, the scenario is rather easier to explain and whilst cancellations are rare, they do happen, yet again, for a variety of possible reasons. If an event is cancelled all bets will be voided and you will get your money back. Even in this seemingly cut and dried case, however, it is possible that extreme or highly unusual circumstances or bets could lead to an alternative action from the bookmaker. In this instance, or if your money is not returned and the bet is marked as a void, again, contacting the site directly is the advisable course of action.

The Cheltenham Festival That Never Was

The highlight of the horse racing jump season is seen by many as Cheltenham's showpiece fixture known as The Festival. This event was cancelled in 2001 with the British countryside in the midst of a foot and mouth disease epidemic. Originally organisers switched the fixture from March to April to comply with restrictions, however it was abandoned altogether when a case was reported close to the Gloucestershire racecourse.

What About Settled Markets?

This really only applies to abandoned matches, as generally speaking no markets will have started, let alone settled, if the match or event hasn’t yet at least got underway. In general, markets that have settled prior to an abandonment will mean your bet stands and will thus be settled as a winner or loser even though the match itself is ultimately called off before its completion.

Tennis Markets

There are lots of examples that can illustrate what we mean so let’s consider a bet on who will win the first set in tennis. Even if the bookmaker with whom you placed the bet voids most bets unless the entire match is completed, bets on who will win the first set will invariably stand, assuming the first set has been completed prior to the abandonment of the match. Similarly, bets on Player A to win 3-0 in sets will be deemed losers, not voided, if Player B wins the first set and the match is abandoned in the second set.

Football Markets

Looking at an example from football, most bookmakers will allow first half bets to stand if a game is called off after the first period is complete. The same applies to goalscorer bets, such as first scorer bets, although anytime goalscorer bets will be void unless they are winners prior to abandonment, whilst all last goalscorer bets will be void, even if your player happened to score the last goal before the match was called off.

What About Accumulators?

Like cancelled events, the impact of abandonment, postponement or cancellation on accas or multiples is, compared to the other possibilities we have looked at, a relatively simple scenario. With matches, events and bets that have been allowed to stand, the accumulator simply works as normal. Where one or more leg has been classed as a void bet, that leg is simply disregarded, with the wager continuing as if, for example a double was a single, or a treble was a double. In the event of multiples the stake for the void single leg will be returned, as well as for all relevant combinations involving it.

The only complication to this is where bets have been placed on some form of promotional or bonus coupon, for example one that required a minimum number of selections in order to gain a bonus payout or higher odds on each individual leg. For example, if your acca was on a football bonus coupon for seven-folds and upwards and bad weather has decimated the fixtures, causing the postponement to an unknown future date of three of your nine picks, you would no longer be eligible for the bonus coupon. Your six remaining matches would simply be settled at the standard odds.


On the one hand, this is a very simple area of betting and regardless of what happens, bets either stand as normal, or are voided with stakes returned. However, as we have seen, with so many different possible scenarios and variables, including many imponderables we haven’t even touched on, contacting your bookie is generally the best option. Moreover, the sooner you do that, the more options you are likely to have and the less chance there is for any misunderstanding or disappointment.

That said, whilst all this uncertainty may be enough to make you think betting is all too much of a, well, gamble, in reality the vast majority of bets will simply settle as normal. Thankfully postponements, cancellations and abandonments are rare and more often than not the only query will be whether you won or not – and hopefully you did!