What Does a Settled Bet Mean & When Does a Bet Settle?

HandshakeAnother key piece of jargon in the betting world is the word ‘settle’. When a bet is placed, it will be classed as ‘unsettled’ or, if the event in question is ongoing, ‘live’.

A bet becomes settled after the result of the race, fight, match, event or tournament you are betting on is known and is made official. Only then can be a bet be settled, i.e., any winnings handed out to successful punters.

Once settled the result of the bet has been locked in and the wager is considered to be completed.

How Long Do Bets Take to Settle?

Settled Bet Example

Even when a result is known, some bets don’t settle very quickly. In the case of a football match, there are no worries as when the final whistle blows the result is known regardless of any complaints and those backing the winning team can be paid out immediately.

But, in the case of horse racing for example, a result isn’t official as soon as the runners pass the post. In that sport, the result is only official after the jockeys have weighed in and only at that point, if no problems have occurred, is the result official meaning bets can be ‘settled’.

This is done because jockeys have to weigh out before the race and their weight, along with that of the saddle cloth etc, recorded as being correct. In case anything has become detached and the horse has received an unfair weight advantage, jockeys are required to also weigh in afterwards to ensure fair play.

In general terms then, bets are usually settled very shortly after an event is over. But it’s important that all bets are settled completely correctly, meaning that in some cases it may take a little longer.

Other than the weighing in procedure, there are reasons settling can take longer than ideal. Technical issues may arise within horse racing, Formula One and a few other sports that may lead to a result not being official for a number of minutes. Stewards’ enquiries lead to the same thing.

Some punters may believe a bet has been settled when their selection, let’s say mathematically, cannot be caught. However, until the entire event is over the result is not official and a bookmaker may wait before paying out.

Some delays in settling bets may simply occur on busy days. When many events are taking place, usually on Saturdays, if a system is overloaded it may not record bets as being settled for a few minutes, maybe even up to half-an-hour but eventually any correct winning bets will be paid out.

Technical glitches do occur from time to time which also lead to correct winning bets not being settled, so while this is rare, if you firmly believe your winning bet should have been paid out there is nothing wrong with contacting your bookmaker to correct this ASAP.

Delays in Settling – Example

Waiting For Payout

There are many examples we could give for bets not being settled promptly. Despite decades of the punter v bookmaker battle, some situations can still arise that neither party is prepared for and that leads to inevitable delays.

A great example would be the victory of Modern Games in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf race at Del Mar in November 2021.

His stablemate had crouched down in the very next stall, kicking out and causing potential injury. To make it quicker and easier to get Modern Games out of the stalls, the starter opened the gates and allowed the horse and jockey William Buick to escape.

As the horse hadn’t ‘broken through’ the gates, he should not have been disqualified and it was the starter’s wise choice to do this.

Administrators however hadn’t communicated with the starter, and so made the hasty decision to disqualify Modern Games. As America deals in pool betting, once Modern Games had been apparently disqualified, he was removed from the betting and could not be put back in, as it would have a detrimental effect on the betting pool as it now stood.

Under the rules of racing however, he was allowed to compete and was communicated to the crowd as a horse “racing for the purse only”. In other words, he could race and could win prize money, but didn’t exist in the betting!

You know what comes next; Modern Games won the race! In the States, that was just tough luck for his supporters and indeed loud booing was heard in the stands as he crossed the line. In Britain however, he had been backed on fixed odds coupons and had won the event fair and square, meaning punters expected to be paid out.

Initially, some major bookmakers listed him automatically as a ‘loser’ which led to immediate complaints via social media. Eventually after one bookmaker stated publicly that they would be paying out on the winner, and on the second horse who was the official ‘winner’ in the betting market, all others followed suit and settled all bets on Modern Games as winners.

This example just goes to show that not every base is always covered as far as ‘settled bets’ goes, and that from time to time a situation will arise that puts the breaks on a bet being settled promptly.

Settled Bets Relating to Offers and Promotions

Bet settling is a big deal when it comes to bonuses and the like, as the situation can often become muddied.

You may only have a limited time to claim a free bet, in some cases seven days after joining a bookmaker, yet you may realise that the qualifying bet you have made won’t settle in time.

Not to worry however. Most bookmakers will indeed release your free bets and/or bonus money as soon as your qualifying bet is struck. As long as the bet meets the basic qualifying criteria, your credits can be released and can be used in time. Do always check this with your bookie if you have any doubts.

This is something to be careful with. If your bookmaker has stated that a qualifying bet must be settled before free bets are released, then it’s up to you to keep an eye on the timing.

Ante-post bets may qualify in some cases, but may not take place until days, weeks or months after the bet is struck.

Also, you may be allowed to make a qualifying bet on a golf tournament or cricket match for example, and this is something the timing of which can scupper your free bets.

You may have four days left to claim your free bets, and so you might back England to beat Australia in a five-day test match. Regardless of how well this is going, if the game goes the full five days your bet may not settle in time and the free bet offer may disappear.