The Risks of Matched Betting


Introduction to Matched Betting

Risks involved in matched betting

Matched betting is a system. Among other wagering tactics, it is much sought-after. The reason: that is a way for punters to find out how to beat the bookmaker’s edge and finally make a success from betting. It allows players to find more attractive offers for their favourite sports matches.

However, there are serious risks if you do it wrong. Matched betting consists of specific steps to not only ensure correct predictions but also avoid common risks. Therefore, you need to grasp how it works before you start.

What is Matched Betting?

Before you can understand what matched betting is, you’ll first need to learn the basics. Let’s start with the difference between betting exchanges and bookies. New punters usually sign up to bookmakers first without realising the benefits of betting exchanges. Matched betting requires both systems.

Bookmakers provide online sportsbooks where you can place bets on various sports. They offer different odds on game markets while adding their profit margins. Whether you win or lose, they will earn from your wagers.

Betting exchanges consist of other punters, like you. It allows players to sell and buy sports bets for better odds and prices. While the seller will still make a commission, you’ll find better rates compared to the bookie in some instances.


So what does this have to do with matched betting? Well, the system requires you to place a back bet at the bookmaker and a lay bet at the exchange. Moreover, the lay bet comes in the form of a bonus or free bet.

The two wagers must also oppose each other. In essence, you’ll bet against yourself. You’ll place your primary wager for a team to win with the bookmaker, and then wager for the same team to lose in the exchange.

This method may seem strange at first. However, you’ll cancel out any potential loss by covering it in the lay bet. In this way, there’s no risk of losing your funds. It requires the perfect calculation of odds and possible earnings.

Similar Forms of Sports Betting

Arbitrage betting is also a method that uses the above rules. You’ll place a back bet at the bookie with a lay bet at the exchange. However, the main difference is that you’ll use real money for the lay bet instead of free credits.

Another similar type of wagering is Dutching. You’ll also place back and lay bets, as indicated in the methods above. Yet, you’ll place both with bookmakers, in this case, avoiding the exchange entirely.

Gambling vs Matched Betting

If you’re observant, then you may have noticed that this article has omitted the terms ‘gambler’ and ‘winnings’ up until now. There’s a specific reason for that. Those who use the system don’t consider it a form of gambling and refer to receiving profits as earnings.

Gambling refers to the chance of winning real money based on the result of your bet. The main ingredient in gambling is luck, after all. Bettors who place a wager on an event, merely hoping for the best result, practice the art of betting.

Matched betting takes luck out of it altogether. You’re placing a lay bet against your original wager, cancelling out any losses from a possible loss. Furthermore, you’ll walk away with earnings if you play your cards right.

Therefore, punters who use this method don’t see it as gambling. By finding the best odds to wager against each other, you’re cutting down on the risks of losing your funds. You’re earning money this way, instead of just winning or losing a bet.

The Main Risks of Matched Betting

Yes, the system cancels the risk of losing your funds. However, there are other risks involved. The main risk is that your bookmakers will find out that you’re using matched betting.

Operators don’t like that you’re using them to make the right tips elsewhere. They’re losing out on more earnings, with your commissions going elsewhere. If they find out that members are using this method, then they ‘gub’ the account.

Main Risks

‘Gubbing’ is jargon in the betting community for a bookie closing an account. When your account is gubbed, you can’t wager on that sportsbook anymore. You may also lose the funds and bonuses in your bankroll.

Another risk is losing money due to misapplying the method. It doesn’t just involve placing back bets and free lay bets. While finding the best odds in the sportsbook and exchange, you must calculate which are the best prices to earn a profit either way.

If done wrong, you can still lose your funds. One small miscalculation means losing money, even when one of your bets wins. You must ensure that you study how to use the method before engaging in it.

A third risk is in the long-term investment of matched betting. You can earn small profits over time, but you’ll need patience. You can’t rely on this method for substantial earnings unless you have a huge bankroll with which to play.

Finally, there are the risks of losing your funds while trying to obtain a free bonus or bet. Most bookmakers have rules attached to receiving free bets. They include wagering your stake a specific amount of times on set odds. If you’re successful, then you can try to cover these losses with matched betting over time.

The Legality and Ethics of Matched Betting

While the system can earn you profits, you may wonder if matched betting is legal. There’s no law against using the system to your benefit since it involves trading bets with other punters. Operators might not like the method, but it’s perfectly legal to do so.

However, bookmakers may expressly state that matched betting goes against their terms and conditions. If the code of conduct does list it, then you may face legal action from the bookie. The rules may indicate that you may not sell free bets at an exchange. You should note that gambling may not be legal in your country. While matched betting is legal, your jurisdiction may restrict gambling on a sportsbook in your location. If you’re planning on using this method, you should first ensure it’s legal to place back bets with your bookie.

The other concern is about the ethics of matched betting. Some punters feel that they cheat the system or have an advantage over other players. While it does present a moral dilemma to some, you need to remember that bookmakers are seldom fair.

Operators place profit margins on their odds. In some instances, high bookie profits lower the player’s profit margin. Moreover, they earn whether your bet wins or loses. For these reasons, most punters feel no shame in making a profit off their free bets in an exchange.

Avoiding the Risks

Avoiding the risks of matched betting

There are a few ways you can avoid the risks of matched betting. These steps allow you to protect your account and your funds. Moreover, it will help prevent the bookie from gubbing your account.

Licensed bookies

The last thing that you’ll want is an operator walking away with your funds. There are a few scam bookies with poor business ethics. They draw you in with the promise of free bets, before taking your funds and vanishing.

Licensed bookmakers follow the rules of gambling authorities. They have certificates in place, stating that they comply with specific regulations. If you sign up with licensed bookies, then your account is safe.

Account verification

Bookmakers will seldom trade with unverified accounts. They may prevent payouts or awarding free bets if your account is not verified. Furthermore, they may suspend your account until you verify your details.

This system creates a problem for matched betting. If you can’t receive your free bets, then you can’t lay them at an exchange. Bookmakers will also become suspicious if you refuse to verify your details.

Various bookmakers

While exchanges offer different prices to compare, it’s good practice to register on various sportsbooks. You’ll also want the best odds when placing the back bet at a bookie. This method may aid you in earning more significant profits.

Round Numbers

When you perform your calculations, you may find that you’ll need a specific stake to cover a potential loss; if you decide that a bet of 49.36 is necessary, for instance. However, you should round your wagers off.

Bookmakers become suspicious when they see you placing specific bets like this all of the time. It reflects a pattern of wagering that hints at matched betting. To avoid this risk, place a stake that’s round off. In this example, you would wager 50.00 in your currency.

Random Dutching

Your bookie will be less aware of your activities if you lose some bets and make the operator some money in the process. You can still offset this with Dutching. In this way, the operator will make a profit off both your lay and back bet, and you’ll cover your losses. However, make it as random as possible and stick to matched betting in the background.

Top Tips for Mug Betting

Mug betting refers to the art of betting like any average punter who solely bets for the chance of winning. It includes intentionally making mistakes to avoid the watchful gaze of your bookie. In essence, you’ll cover the losses from these ‘errors’ in the betting exchange.

Early days
Favourite teams
Accumulator betting
Walk away from value bets
Play in the bookmarker’s casino

Final Words

While many punters state that matched betting is risk-free, that isn’t entirely correct. Sure, you won’t lose money, but there are some risks involved. The most significant danger is losing your account and funds if the bookie catches you in the act.

Of course, not losing money comes down to your skills at matched betting. You must find the best lay bet that covers the potential loss of the back bet. Moreover, you must do this every time, without alerting your bookmaker.

In the end, you’ll be beating the bookie at its own game. Furthermore, you’ll wind up with some decent profits if you play your cards right.

Javia Alex
Javia Alex is an expert-level Copywriter/Editor with a wealth of experience in the iGaming scene. A self-described player advocate, Javia’s player-first mindset, “tell it like it is”, has earned her an oft-cited voice across gambling circles. She frequently works late nights and long hours, fact-checking reviews and pages for accuracy.