Numerous websites and software tools have popped up which claim to allow you to spot guaranteed profitable betting opportunities, by taking advantage of the differing prices on outcomes in the same market between different bookmakers. We explained how you could start to find the best value markets at your favourite bookmaker. This involves working out the overround on a particular market. The lower the overround the better. However, these websites and tools take this a step further, and claim to be able to find opportunities (by placing bets at multiple bookmakers, on different outcomes in the same market) when there will effectively be no overround, and in fact the book will be less than 100%. This is called arbitrage betting. We strongly recommend you avoid arbitrage betting. Although, the opportunities they spot will be real (if you are using a reputable service), we still recommend you avoid this form of betting. There is usually a fee involved to use these services, and even though the opportunities to make a profit might be there in theory, in practice they are difficult to profit from.
Why avoid arbitrage betting? Your account may be closed, or bets revoked.
- Bookmakers generally hate arbitrage betting. Many share data for numerous reasons, and this helps them spot arbitrage betting. Depending on their T&Cs, they could refuse to honour bet(s) and/or close your account.
- Even if they weren’t sharing data, if there is a good arbitrage opportunity (which if the service you have paid for works, it should spot), lots of people will be placing the same bets as you in the same time period. It will not be hard for bookmakers to suspect arbitrage betting, and revoke bets if that’s their policy.
- Bookmakers who care about responsible gambling may also close your account, if they see you are making huge losses at their bookmaker – even though you might be winning overall across all your accounts at different bookmakers.
Even if bookmakers didn’t have problem with arbitrage betting (which they do), there are numerous other problems which mean you should avoid arbitrage betting. Here’s some more reasons to avoid arbitrage betting:
- It is possible that you place one part of your arbitrage opportunity at one bookmaker, and when you go to place the other bets to make your arbitrage opportunity work at one or more other bookmakers, the odds have changed. Odds can fluctuate at any time. If other people have spotted the arbitrage opportunity, bookmakers may be receiving a lot of bets on something, and the odds will likely change (not in your favour).
- If you spot a brilliant arbitrage betting opportunity, and wish to place large bets, and only have a short amount of time, it can be difficult to see if your bet has been accepted (as some bookmakers only accept smaller stakes automatically, whilst larger stakes need to be manually verified by their traders – this process is usually quick, but not instant). This means you may not be sure all the parts of your arbitrage have been placed.
- It is possible that in the short space of time that you have to place your bets, you make an error – such as calculating incorrectly the amount to bet on each outcome/bookmaker. Even if your software/tools correctly calculates your amounts to bet for you, you could also incorrectly place your bet, as each bookmaker could have different user interfaces. Of course, your error might work in your favour – but, you certainly don’t want to be relying on that.
- Successful arbitrage betting often requires several accounts at different bookmakers. This can take up a lot of time maintaining the different accounts, making sure they are all funded. Also not all bookmakers will be well known to you – less reputable bookmakers often making depositing easy, and withdrawals painful. Of course you will have to be wary of any scams, from unknown bookmakers.
In conclusion, we urge you avoid arbitrage betting altogether, and not pay for any tools/software to help spot arbitrage opportunities. Instead, we recommend you stick to looking for bets you think have value, at whatever your favourite bookmaker is.