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What is arbitrage betting?

Arbitrage betting is a betting strategy where you seek opportunities to guarantee profits.

By placing a variety of bets across different platforms and taking advantage of discrepancies in bookmaker odds, it is possible to guarantee profits using the arbitrage betting system. Because odds vary between bookmakers, you can exploit that discrepancy and create a valuable betting opportunity. Online betting sites may accept a large bet on one side of the market, and may offer reduced odds on the other side to balance their risk. You can exploit this and secure betting profits by betting on both outcomes.

It takes experience and industry knowledge to know how to seek out and exploit opportunities with arbitrage betting. And the profits may only be in the 2-3% range (but as low as 1% and sometimes as high as 8%). So, the lure of the guaranteed win is hard to resist and it an effective betting strategy.

Arbitrage betting and probability

It’s important to understand the role of probability in all betting, especially arbitrage betting. Your opportunity for guaranteed profit occurs when:

  • The sum of all probabilities is less than 100% when backing
  • The sum of all probabilities is greater than 100% when laying

You can use arbitrage betting with both betting exchanges and with bookmakers. Our arbitrage betting calculator helps you determine the potential profits and the stakes to place.

Arbitrage betting using bonuses

You can also use bonus bets to create a guaranteed profit, a process that is called matched betting. There are various ways to perform matched betting and not all are risk-free, however, once you have earned a bonus bet, it is possible to create an arbitrage opportunity by staking correctly on all outcomes of an event.

Arbitrage betting example

Melbourne Victory is playing the Central Coast Mariners.

  • Bookmaker A offers 7.00 on Central Coast Mariners to win
  • Bookmaker B offers 17.00 on a draw
  • Bookmaker C offers 1.30 on Melbourne Victory to win

By using our arbitrage calculator to canvas potential for all three outcomes, we can specify that if we bet $100 on the Mariners to win, the calculator will recommend bets for the other outcomes:

  • Central Coast Mariners win at $100 x7.00
  • Draw at $41.18 x 17.00 (round up to $42.00)
  • Melbourne Victory win $538.46 x 1.30 (round up to $540)

Potential outcomes of the match with a total stake of $682:

Outcome Bookmaker A ($100 at 7.00 on Mariners) Bookmaker B ($42 at 17.00 on draw) Bookmaker C ($540 at 1.30 on Victory)
Mariners Win Win +$700 Loss-$42 Loss-$540
Draw Loss -$100 Win +$714 Loss -$540
Victory Win Loss -$100 Loss -$100 Win $702.00

You can see that regardless of the outcome, you’ll win approximately $700.00 on a total betting investment of $682.00 (gains of roughly 2.5%).

Pro Tip:

Round up bets so you’re not betting unusual amounts. You can also weigh the bet in favour of the most likely outcome – the favourite winning the game, thus securing increased profits in that case.

Bookmakers and arbitrage betting

Arbitrage betting is not illegal. It is simply a strategy for taking advantages of betting opportunities that the market presents. Unsurprisingly, bookmakers are not fans of arbitrage betting. So, if they spot attempts to use arbitrage betting they can can take steps to prevent it. They may cancel your account, and in some cases, suspend access to your deposited funds if they find you have breached their terms and conditions.

Pros and cons:

Pros Cons
It’s the holy grail of betting – a sure bet Due to the small margins, you need to bet large sums to make good profits
Guaranteed returns and no risk You need to spend time looking for the opportunities
The work involved is worth the returns Bookmakers limit stakes, meaning you could be unable to place the stake you need

Arbitrage betting risks

There are risks associated with arbitrage betting that you may not foresee when you see an opportunity. We list these risks below:

  • Prices can change on you, leaving you exposed
  • Bookmakers can cancel bets when they realise they’ve made a mistake in the odds they’ve offered, leaving you exposed
  • You need to juggle bets amongst several different bookmakers and hold accounts with all of them
  • You need a good reliable internet service – a system crash in the middle of placing arbitrage bets can leave you exposed