Do you like a punt? Imagine you could “gamble” on a guaranteed winner? Well with the process of matched betting, you actually can… with a bit of mucking around, organisation and attention to details.
I dived into matched betting with enthusiasm and curiosity. I came out tired and drained.
What does it look like when you try and profit from Australia’s multi-trillion dollar betting industry?
I’m going to start off by trying to explain what “matched betting” is in my own words, then I will look up established and refined definitions for your benefit.
Matched betting is simple enough in theory. It is essentially taking advantage of the special offers from various sports gambling companies and cross referencing it with BetFair and finding mathematical loop holes where you get paid regardless of the real-life outcome.
OK, sorry. I did not do a very good job of explaining matched betting, time for some copying and pasting…
SALES PITCH EXPLANATION
Matched betting is a betting technique used by individuals to profit from the bonus bets and incentives offered by bookmakers. It is generally considered risk-free as all possible outcomes are always covered at a bookmaker and a betting exchange simultaneously. Experts consider this technique to be a risk-free form of gambling if done correctly as it is not based on chance, but generally based on mathematics.
I like this explanation least.
(Courtesy of www.matchedbettingaustralia.com)
The concept of matched betting requires an account with two or more bookmakers or betting exchanges where at least one offers the user a free bet. When the free bet is placed the other bookmakers or betting exchanges are used to hedge all the possible outcomes so that no matter what happens the value of the free bet is retained. At its simplest, a matched bet involves placing a back bet using the free bet at a bookmaker while placing the opposing lay bet at a betting exchange.
I like this explanation best.
(I cannot remember the last time I needed to flick through three pages of Google results to find the information I was seeking. In this case, I was just after a basic explanation of matched betting, one that was free from sales spin aimed at getting me to sign up for some sort of service. That’s how much matched betting marketing is flooding Australia’s online marketplace currently. It is a thing.)
“I dived into matched betting with enthusiasm and curiosity. I came out tired and drained…”
I have a mate that has been playing around with matched betting for two years now, so I asked for his thoughts and figured I should present them before I outline mine. He is a super smart guy, an expert with numbers and loves his sport. In other words, well qualified to tackle this topic.
He explained to me his matched betting journey.
“I sort of stumbled across matched betting, and straight away I liked the potential. The maths and the logic just made sense to me.”
“Obviously the idea of guaranteed winners appealed too. As an avid sports fan and someone who enjoys a bet for fun, I would just consider the money gone as soon as the funds were deposited, like any other gambling.”
“However, I believed in the long run that this process would make money. It’s been about two years and with the bookies that I have left I continue to do matched betting for fun. I haven’t needed to deposit any extra money since starting matched betting. So I consider that a win!”
“Basically, yes it is a bit of work and can be time consuming and the results can take a bit of time, but eventually the maths catches up and it’s free money!”
“…yes it is a bit of work and can be time consuming and the results can take a bit of time, but eventually the maths catches up and it’s free money!”
My mate also explained that he is not prone to gambling addiction and is capable of undertaking his matched betting responsibly. Plus he is certainly not earning a wage and about to leave his current job. Not ever.
So what did I learn during my short stint? What should you know before you explore any further? And why am I no longer matching bets?
It is time consuming
Matched betting is not free money, there are many layers to it, like a stinky onion that just makes you want to cry. It is made to seem like it is a side-hustle that you can simply undertake on your phone while watching Archer on Netflix, but it aint.
“Matched betting is not free money, there are many layers to it, like a stinky onion that just makes you want to cry…”
You need help
Perhaps you could setup a kick-ass Excel spreadsheet to figure out all of the maths for yourself, but most likely you would be better off paying a small monthly fee to someone else who has already done all that number crunching for you.
Identifying current offers from various online gambling providers is also a large part of what matched betting services provide. It would be a massive undertaking to attempt solo.
You need to be organised
You will need a dedicated email address, dedicated bank account, digital copies of your legal ID documents, login names, passwords and a very healthy dose of self-organisation. To be honest, I think I still have some funds lying around in a TAB account somewhere, oops!
It is a process
To further illustrate the detail involved and the time required to be invested with matched betting, I figured I should plainly outline my experience in getting things set up. These are the boxes I needed to tick in order to place my first match bet…
- Setup a subsequent email address
- Setup a separate bank account
- Setup a BetFair account
- Setup a login with a matched betting provider
- Sign up for betting accounts with intro offers suggested by matched betting provider
- Provide multiple sources of ID for BetFair account
- Provide multiple sources of ID for first betting account
- Deposit around $500-$1,000 into BetFair
- Deposit around $100 into first betting account
- Place first suggested matched bet
- Signup for second betting account
- Provide multiple sources of ID for second betting account
- Rinse and repeat (I ended up signed up with only three bookies, or betting accounts)
You need to back yourself
Matched betting required more initial capital than I realised, as listed above around $500-1000 to start out. This predominantly goes into your Betfair account to offset the sports wagers.
You could get addicted
As with any gambling it could prove to be addictive for some people with certain personality types. Most other side hustle ideas do not involve this sort of serious risk. If you were making a little extra income on the side by creating hand-knitted socks for cats as an example, you would most likely not become addicted, and thus require government funded counselling services to avoid going broke.
“If you were making a little extra income on the side by creating hand-knitted socks for cats as an example, you would most likely not become addicted…”
It is frowned upon
Not surprisingly the mega-profitable gambling agencies do not like missing out on money. They offer up very attractive deals to get punters hooked on their product and to compete against their immense competition. And they do not like this being taken advantage of. This is my biggest issue with matched betting as a concept. The very source of your income is the same resource you are manipulating, which leads me to my next lesson…
There IS risk
Any of your accounts with any of the betting agencies can be closed at any time without an explanation required. Usually without a refund required! No doubt amidst the wordy terms and conditions that you agree to when signing up, there will some lines of legal content that justifies and allows for such action to happen.
If you are going to swim with big sharks, sometimes the cage is purely decorative.
You can make a mistake
I read a detailed blog post on this topic recently and was alluded to something else I hadn’t considered myself…
“While matched betting technically guarantees a profit, it doesn’t account for human error, and I soon realise that my combination of being rubbish with numbers and susceptible to lapses in concentration isn’t a great mix for a matched bettor.” – Hayden Vernon
(It is a great read over on VICE… https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/a3mgmk/i-tried-matched-betting-to-see-how-much-easy-money-i-could-make)
Another mistake I read about online was from a lady who used her credit card to make her deposits and then realised that her deposits were technically counted as cash advances! This makes the interest alone almost insurmountable with your matched bet winnings.
“You might have formed a an opinion that wagering on sports and ensuring betting victory would be rad fun and constantly exciting, however it just does not work out that way…”
There are state-based restrictions
Another odd consideration is that in Australia matched betting would actually be more profitable and straight-forward in the Northern Territory than New South Wales. All offers issued by gambling services need to adhere to state legislation, which can be complicated and restrictive. Certainly another aspect to take into account, requiring you to be informed and diligent.
It is less fun than it seems
You might have formed an opinion that wagering on sports and ensuring betting victory would be rad fun and constantly exciting, however it just does not work out that way. There is something about the process that just saps the enjoyment (at least for me) and made it seem like hard work. This could have been an error in my mindset, yet having since stopped I do not miss it – or more relevantly I do not feel as though I am missing out.
Matched betting is obviously not going to be for everyone, but I really thought (going into the exercise) it would be for me. I am a numbers guy and a sports guy, but it just did not grab me.
Maybe what trumps it all is that deep down I am just a disorganised and lazy guy? Or maybe beating the bookies at their own game is just harder than I hoped.
Have you tried matched betting? Comment below…
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