The competition in the gambling industry is very high and that is in favour of the punter as the bookmakers are forced to run promotional offers to attract new customers. Matched betting help us to take advantage of bookmakers’ bonuses and offers.
Matched betting involves betting in two or more different bookmakers at the opposite sides of the same market. That way we are taking advantage of the free bets or completing the bonus rollover requirements without risking any money.
In other words, to complete a matched betting offer successfully we place back bets to win with the online bookmakers and lay the same bets on a betting exchange, effectively cancelling out the risk.
How Does Matched Betting Work? – An example
It involves using a betting exchange such as Betfair or Smarkets to make the process RISK FREE. At a betting exchange you can both “back” and “lay” a selection. Let’s go through what these terms mean.
You back a selection when you think that something is going to happen. Back bets are placed at bookmakers. You lay a selection when you think something won’t happen. Lay bets are placed at a betting exchange.
As you can see from the above example it doesn’t matter what the result of the game is because you will still get a return from either the bookmaker or the betting exchange. This process of “BACKING” and “LAYING” makes matched betting RISK-FREE.
An example of an offer would be – “Bet £5 with us and we will give you a £20 free bet”
If we use the example above of place a £5 bet and get a £20 free bet then we would place a BACK BET of £5 at the bookmaker and then also place a LAY BET of £5 at the exchange. Now one of these bets is going to win and we will end up with the same amount as we started with. The whole point of that £5 bet was to QUALIFY for the £20 free bet.
We repeat the process and apply some mathematics to lock in a guaranteed profit from the £20 free bet. We can do this because we don’t have to use our own money to place the back bet but the bookmaker still pays out if the bet wins.
What do I need to do to get started?
In order to start, you need is a bank account with a debit or credit card or an e-wallet like Skrill or Neteller. Skrill and Neteller are online payment systems, specialized in providing e-wallets for the online gambling industry. You can use them to quickly deposit and withdraw funds to/from your online bookmakers’ accounts.
We recommend you use a debit/credit card for your matched betting activities as online bookmakers often tend to exclude deposits made using Skrill, Neteller, and other e-wallets from being eligible for sports betting promotions.
Generally, bookmakers will need a copy of your passport (or driver’s license or national ID) and a copy of a utility bill less than 3 months old to verify your account and to be able to process with withdrawals. It’s a good idea to have these on hand when doing matched betting, so you can minimize the time it takes to verify your account.
Ideally (although not necessary) you should use an email address just for matched betting.
When it comes to sports, football is certainly the best sport for matched betting, especially if you are starting out. Horse racing is another very popular sport with matched bettors, although odds can move very fast near the start of the race.
While you can search for your bets manually, this can be very time-consuming. So the best way to get started is with the help of a matched betting finder. These are subscription-based services that scan the bookmakers for potential offers and then they provide their members with the bets that should be placed to take advantage of them. If you are a beginner it’s worth starting with these services as the cost is relatively small for the benefits that you are getting.
What types of bonuses bookmakers are offering?
There are 3 types of bonuses that bookmakers are offering and can be used for matched betting:
- Free bet with stake not returned (SNR). A bet generally placed using free bet money that will return you only the winnings, but not the original stake. The majority of free bet offers are stake not returned.
- Free bet with stake returned (SR). A bet generally placed using bonus money that will return you both the original stake and the winnings. All deposit bonus offers are stake returned.
- Sign up or deposit (reload) bonus. This is the most common bookmaker offer. You are getting an x amount of money for opening an account and make a deposit or for reloading your balance.
Also, bookmakers are offering some types of promotions that cannot be used for matched betting (0% vig on certain events for example).
You can read more in my article about the different types of bookmaker bonuses.
Why online bookmakers offer bonuses and free bets?
The betting market is super competitive and online bookmakers offer bonuses and free bets to attract new customers, tempt existing ones to bet more often, but also to reactivate dormant accounts. In fact, the majority of all bookmakers offer bonuses to customers that reload their accounts (deposit money into an existing account) as well as offer special promotions in connection with major sporting events.
Will I run out of bookmaker sign-up offers?
New bookmakers launch weekly offering very generous sign up offers meant to take your business away from existing sites and as long as you maintain your betting accounts in good order, you will be able to use the matched betting technique to continue profit from the bookmaker offers.
Is matched betting legal?
Matched betting is completely legal and can be done in every place of the world where betting is legal and bookmakers are offering bonuses.
Graham Sharpe, spokesperson for leading UK bookmaker William Hill, interviewed by The Telegraph said the betting industry does not have a problem with matched betting: “There’s no illegal element. It’s a free bet and you can do what you like.”
Of course, this is not always the case and bookmakers don’t always like that type of betting and will try to limit your activities. Bookmakers don’t like losing and certainly don’t like losing to advantage players. Hopefully, there are some methods that you can use to avoid getting gubbed by bookmakers.
Is matched betting the same as arbitrage betting?
No, matched betting as a concept derives from arbitrage betting, but while for matched bettors finding events where a matched bet will generate a small loss is acceptable (since the goal is to profit from the free money offered by bookmakers), arbitrageurs or arbers only bet when they can make a sure profit regardless of the outcome.
I have written a more detailed article on what is arbitrage betting.
Is it legal to open multiple accounts?
No you can’t. It’s perfectly fine as a player and potentially long term customer to take advantage of sign up offers bookmakers use to entice you, but avoid have your account linked to other accounts as bookmakers check computer IPs, cookies, addresses, but also who is placing the same bets, at the same time, and will ultimately confiscate winnings (and some time deposits) if they suspect you are a bonus abuser.
What about opening an account in my wife/husband’s name?
Most online bookmakers allow only one promotion per household, however, there are some betting sites that don’t have restrictions. Always check the bookmaker and promotion’s terms and conditions.
Is matched betting suitable for everyone?
The best part of matched betting is that it can be performed by anyone. You do not have to be a gambling expert and you can start making money even without having any betting experience at all. Also, the starting bankroll is very low compared to other betting activities.
How much money do I need to get started?
If you are completely new to matched betting, we recommend you start from the beginner offers using small stakes.
Once you feel comfortable with matched betting and have successfully completed the first few offers, you may want to consider adding to your bankroll (which at this point should have increased anyway from winnings) to be able to tackle more than one offer at the same time and for larger amounts (think £200 offers rather than £25).
Also if you use a matched betting service you will need around £20 per month to cover the subscription cost.
How much time should I put into matched betting?
It’s completely up to you, but at the very least 20 minutes per day and a couple of hours on Friday or Saturday.
There are many matched betting software available that can find the bets for you and also do the calculation of the stakes. That takes the hard part of work out of you and minimizes the risks of losing money.
In any case, before starting any betting activities and risk any money, you should first develop a proper betting mindset.
If it is that easy why isn’t everyone doing it?
First of all, it involves opening accounts on bookmakers. Many people are biased against gambling and they do not want to be involved in betting activities.
Even though it’s a risk-free method there is always the possibility of individual errors and many don’t want to take any risks.
Furthermore, a starting bankroll is required and many don’t want or even don’t have money to set aside for gambling activities.
Finally, it requires some effort and time to place your bets. Thanks to the matched betting services this is reduced significantly but you still need to put some effort and supervise your bets.
How much money can I make from matched betting?
There are hundreds of offers available for both new and existing customers which means you can always make a profit again and again. As to how much you can earn it is all depends on how much effort you put in. So simply put, it is in your hands. If you want to make more money just complete more offers. It’s that simple. Also, the higher the starting bankroll the higher will be the profits.
For every free bet, you place you can make around 80% of the free bets value back as profit. So if you placed a £20 free bet you could expect to lock in £16 without risk.
If you are based in the UK, you can realistically earn £1000-£1500 from the sign up offers and another £500-£700 every month from specials and reloads.
If you are based in another country, the amount will vary depending on the number of bookmakers that you will be able to access. Although the total number of offers available to non-UK players may not be as large as the ones available to UK residents with can still make money from matched betting if you are coming from another country. Louis from thearbacademy.com has stated the best ways to exploit bookmaker bonuses if you are based in Australia.
You ca nread more in my article on how to do matched betting if you are outside the UK.
Discipline and access to up-to-date information and new promotions guarantee that some matched bettors make more money than others. That’s why using a matched betting finder can be crucial to your overall profitability.
Do I have to pay taxes on the money I make from matched betting?
We are not tax experts, but we understand that in most countries profits made any form of betting are tax-free unless they are your only source of income. If you want to be sure, you need to speak to a tax advisor in your country.
Matched betting pros
Matched betting is very popular among bettors for the following reasons.
- No experience needed. Even if you have not placed a bet before you can start easily making money. You don’t have to be a gambling expert to take advantage of bookie promotional offers.
- 100% risk-free. Unlike arbitrage or value betting, you have total control of the risk involved. Only if you make a mistake in the stakes placed you are going to lose money.
- Small bankroll. The bigger the bankroll the more you are going to make. But you can start with as little as 50 euros and take advantage of small free bets.
- Little effort. You just have to log in to your accounts, place the bets and collect the profits. Very little work is required especially if you are using a matched betting software.
- High returns. A typical return for a matched bet is around 80%. At arbitrage betting, for example, the average return is around 3%.
- Low risk of being limited. When placing matched bets you are not hammering the weak bookie lines. The profit is made in a different way than value betting or arbitrage betting, therefore, you can stay easily under the radar. You can read more here on how to avoid getting limited from the bookmakers.
- Matched betting products. Fortunately, there are many products available to help you with the calculation and the finding of matched bets. Also, the subscription costs are very low.
Are there any risks in matched betting?
Sometimes bettors can come across some matched betting problems. Below is a list of the largest pitfalls of matched betting:
- Lack of available offers. Unlike arbitrage or value betting where you can find bets every day, bookmaker offers are rare especially after completing the sign-up bonus. Many bookmakers nowadays are making promotions that cannot be matched (0% vig on certain events for example).
- Being gubbed by the bookmaker. That means that the bookmakers will stop offering promotions if you are continuously taking advantage of them.
- Being completely limited by the bookmaker. That’s a rare case but there is the possibility to be completely limited by the bookmaker. If you are consistently winning and make withdrawals bookmakers will mark you as an unwanted player. You read this article on how to avoid bookie limitations.
- Geography. Unfortunately not all the bettors from all countries will have the same matched betting opportunities. The sign-up bonuses are common in all countries but after that the free bets and other offers are rare. Also, all the available matched betting products are targetting UK bettors only.
- Complicated terms and conditions. Terms and conditions are there to protect the bookmaker and can be complicated especially for the beginner. Without the help of a matched betting service, some well-hidden terms and conditions can be hard to spot. High bonuses may have some very strict rollover requirements so you have to pay much attention to this if you want to withdraw your earnings at some point.
- Personal mistakes. Placing wrong stakes or making wrong calculations is the only way to lose money in matched betting. Bookmakers won’t allow you to cancel a bet once it has been accepted. However, if you have placed a wrong bet, you can rectify the error by placing an opposite bet on a betting exchange. Other human errors include depositing money using a forbidden payment method, claiming a free bet after it already expired or from a country where the promotion is not available.
- Partially matched bets. If your lay bet is partially matched and the odds have moved away making it unlikely that it will be fully matched, you need to cancel the existing lay bet and recalculate the stake and liability using a matched betting calculator before placing a new lay bet at the new odds. Never leave an unmatched bet to go live as you are taking unnecessary risks.
- Technical issues. Losing the internet connection and being unable to match a back bet with a lay bet is a possible risk.
- Unknown bookmakers. There are many cases of rogue bookmakers disappearing with player funds. Such bookmakers make large offers to bettors in order to lure them and deposit money. You should be very careful before depositing a large amount of money in obscure bookmakers.
Matched betting is the best way for newbies to start their betting activities. Although bettors from the UK will have the most opportunities, matched betting can be performed at any country of the world as long as bookmakers are offering bonuses.
This is the best way for bettors who want to start arbitrage or value betting to build their bankroll.
I hope that you have found my article informative. If so, feel free to share it or leave a comment below.