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Finance glossary

What is matched betting? How it works and strategies to minimize associated risks

Bristol James
5 Min

Matched betting is the process of placing strategic bets to win regardless of the outcome. Most matched betting strategies involve taking advantage of free bets, which are commonly found through sign up and bonus offers.

Matched betting involves more math than gambling, as the outcomes are predicted to guarantee a win. This can be done by using elaborate calculations or placing multiple different bets. Companies try to regulate matched betting with specific rules for free bets and bonus offers, but completely eliminating this type of betting strategy is difficult.

Matched betting can apply to numerous different sectors of betting, like sports betting, casino bets, and bingo rooms. This makes matched betting a prime target for fraudsters looking to take advantage of illegitimate gains.

For example, let’s say a customer needs to place a qualifying bet to receive a free bet for signing up. The customer decides to make a $50 bet on a basketball team to win the championship. Once the bet is placed, the customer receives their free bet. The customer then uses their free bet to make a $50 bet that the same basketball team will lose the championship. Regardless of whether that basketball team wins or loses, the customer still has a winning bet.

How does matched betting work?

Here are the general steps involved in matched betting:

  1. Find a free bet offer. This is commonly from a sign up offer or bonus.
  2. Meet the criteria to place the free bet. This usually involves making an initial bet.
  3. Take the free bet with the bookie.
  4. Find and place the opposite bet on an exchange.
  5. Wait for the event to end.
  6. Win money regardless of the outcome.

Matched betting is a loophole to avoid losing money, which is why many bookmakers and exchanges attempt to block these types of transactions. As a workaround to bookmakers blocking free bets, some matched betting experts will place a bet on one platform and the offsetting bet on another platform.

How does matched betting differ from arbitrage?

Matched betting and arbitrage have some key differences. Matched betters use bookmakers’ free bet offers, while arbitrage betters go through complex calculations to beat the odds. Arbitrage betting is frowned upon by bookmakers, but not prohibited like matched betting.

Moreover, arbitrage is more difficult to identify since players are generally only making one bet. On the contrary, matched betting is easy to pinpoint since betters place more than one bet on the same game or event.

Is matched betting legal?

Although matched betting is not illegal, online bookmakers and betting services strictly prohibit this strategy. Betting providers will usually outline their stance on matched betting in the terms and conditions betters agree to when they sign up for the platform and receive free bets and bonus offers.

Even if the betting provider does not outline the legality of matched betting in the terms and conditions, the methods used to facilitate matched betting may be described, such as multi-accounting and bonus abuse. This makes the legality of matched betting a gray area.

Why is matched betting an attractive investment strategy?

Matched betting is appealing for betters because it’s very difficult to lose money if the calculations are done correctly. It’s more likely that the online sportsbook or betting service will lose money compared to the matched betting expert. This is why most betting platforms strictly disallow the use of matched betting.

Recent technological advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence have made it easier to identify matched betting fraud using free bets and bonus abuse. If your bet is flagged by the betting services, you could face fines, penalties, and permanent bans. Penalties might include repayment of any prior bet winnings.

Matched betting has also become popular over the past few years as a way to “get rich quick.” There are betting gurus teaching other betters how to successfully use a matched betting strategy, making it alluring.

Strategies to minimize matched betting fraud

There are strategies that you can implement to prevent fraud in matched betting, including:

Have strict bonus and rollover requirements

Finding the right balance between intriguing bonus offers and strict policies to deter matched betting is important. Too strict of requirements and you risk losing brand image and lowering your customer base. On the contrary, too lenient of policies and you could be paying out thousands in illegitimate matched betting earnings.

Require comprehensive customer information

Most online betting programs and bookmakers should have protocols that identify customers beyond a username or email address. Some platforms require a valid ID, while others might require the entering of a phone number or other piece of identifying information to reduce the ability to place matched bets.

Implement real-time monitoring

Evaluating bets after the fact isn’t very effective, especially if payouts have already been made. As soon as the bet is placed, your company should be evaluating the authenticity and verifying if there are any other opposite bets placed. Real-time monitoring protocols might include watching locations, submitted IDs, devices, and browsers. When using this strategy, it’s important not to infringe on any personal data privacy laws.

Rework terms and conditions agreements

When a user signs up for an account, they usually need to agree to the terms and conditions of betting on the platform. Have specific policies for matched betting within these agreements. This gives you a legal baseline to fall back on if you do uncover instances of matched betting. Without specific provisions, the better could find a legal workaround to keep their winnings.

Also, include provisions for the manner in which bets are placed. For example, you could say that offsetting bets on the same event are strictly prohibited. Although you aren’t specifically laying out that matched betting isn’t allowed, you are disallowing the principles of matched betting.

Additionally, your terms and conditions might include specifications surrounding how free bets are placed and any penalties for winnings from matched betting. When creating your terms and conditions agreement, it’s important to work with a legal professional to ensure you are covering all of your bases and working within the realms of the law.

Summary

  • Matched betting is the process of placing bets in a way that makes it difficult to lose money.
  • Matched betting generally involves placing a bet using sign up or bonus offers and a corresponding offsetting bet to guarantee a win.
  • Even though matched betting isn’t illegal under general laws and regulations, individual betting platforms may prohibit the use of this strategy.
  • Having strict rollover and bonus requirements, requiring comprehensive customer information, implementing real-time monitoring, and reworking terms and conditions agreements are four strategies to reduce your risk of matched betting

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