Is matched betting still worth it in 2017?

Matched betting has been around for many years and well-known to punters but it’s only in the last couple of years that it has reached the masses. It’s been called various things over time and matched betting is quite a strange term as it doesn’t describe what it is too accurately (bonus arbitrage was perhaps better). It is however the one that seems to have stuck. For anyone reading who doesn’t know what matched betting is, it is basically using free bets and offers alongside betting exchanges like betfair to guarantee profits. This is usually done by backing a selection with the free bet stake at the bookies and then betting against it by laying on the exchanges.

This may sound unlikely but it’s true, bookmakers are happy to spend a little to attract new customers and potentially make more than the cost of the free bet from them. They make it difficult for punters to get hold of these profits though and increasingly so, with more and more bookies only offering sign up free bets and bonuses that require rolling over x times and/or bets at minimum odds. Confusingly, many bookies also allow deposits without ID but to withdraw you’ll need to scan in your passport and proof of address. So, the question is, is matched betting still worth it in 2017?

It’s exiting when one first finds out about matched betting. “Money for nothing? Can’t be legit”, is the standard response. Dig a little deeper and you realise it is and after locking in some profits by signing up with the best offers from the top bookmakers you’re already wondering if you could do matched betting full-time.

The trouble is, once you’ve done the bulk of the main sign up offers from recognised bookies, you’re then looking at ones that you’ve never heard of and matched betting starts to become a little riskier than advertised. Your betting bank grows and your stakes become larger as do the odds you lay at to try to maximise the amounts you can make from the trades.

Sites like OddsMonkey and Profit Accumulator have helped educate people about matched betting and to speed up their operations (for a subscription fee), but it’s a tell-tale sign that the amount they claim you can win has reduced significantly in the past year or two. It wasn’t too long ago that £2000 a month was the figure claimed and now this is down to £600-£700 on some sites and on others not even mentioned at all. You can probably take a couple of hundred or more off that too as they’ll use the best estimations from those who’ve got lucky with accumulators and whatnot.

The golden years of matched betting where some people recorded £30,000+ profits in a year are over and today the target markets of matched betting sites like the above are students which says a lot. Students have no money and lots of time on their hands, so it seems worth it to many to spend lots of hours matched betting on a laptop to make a few quid.

In fact, it is the actual time spent that’s often not accounted for and once you’ve completed the main sign up offers you may struggle to do much better than minimum wage. Of course to some this still may be appealing. You’re your own boss and don’t have to be anywhere for a particular time but there could be an opportunity cost for students not earning via a part-time job instead. Matched betting offers nothing in personal development and there’s no scope to increase your earnings, quite the opposite, as the amounts which are achievable have been and will continue to go down.

There are people who come up with creative ways to keep the game paying a little longer past the initial sign up bonuses. Accounts in other family members names and spoof IP addresses for example but these kind of antics are against the terms and conditions and you could be banned and have your funds held. Again your risk of losing money is increased.

All this is not to say that it’s not worth doing ANY kind of matched betting but it’s not worth you spending hours and hours on. Or wasting your Saturday indoors because that’s when the best offers are on.

What we at BettingTools suggest is that you complete the sign up offers for recognised bookmakers and then only complete offers which are emailed to you and that are worth your time. The prime example is the bet365 £50 inplay one where you can guarantee around £35 quid very easily. Bet365 do several of these in the course of the year and other bookies like BetBright are now offering similar ones. Busy peirods in the betting world like at Cheltenham, offer up some good opportunities too and it’s worth doing a few around times like that.

Of course you should always try to keep the profit on the Betfair side of the trade and not with the bookies.  If you do end up winning with a bookies you may want to do an extra trade for the cost of a £1 or two to get the profit over to Betfair and make it less likely that you’ll be banned by the bookmaker.

It’s important to remember that matched betting isn’t completely risk free – nothing is. It is probably the safest form of betting in that your less likely to lose money but things can and do go wrong. Exchanges often experience downtime during busy periods over the weekend and laying off isn’t possible, rules differ between bookmakers which catches lots of people out and bookies can and do go bust. If you have funds in the account of a bookies who does go bust you won’t always get your money back.

Where there is greater risk there is also greater reward. Take some of the tipsters on our tipster table for example. Following some of these every month can make you a lot more money and for a lot less work but you do risk losing more. That’s life. It’s often advised that your 20s and 30s are the period of your life when you should take a riskier approach to your investments but the approach should still be a sensible one. Betting at level stakes, making use of Best Odds GUaranteed and the exchanges where they are preferrable can and does provide much bigger regular returns for some people than matched betting. Yes, matched betting is more likely to pay you something but after the sign up offers it’s akin to scrabbling around the floor for loose change.

Time is money so don’t sacrifice lots of your time for loose change and do matched betting only when the offer is too good to turn down.

If you are looking at carrying out some matched betting you may find our matched betting spreadsheet helpful.