What is arbitrage betting?
More commonly known as ‘arbing’, this is an advanced betting technique. There are different types of arbing but in this guide, we’ll focus on back/lay arbing because it’s quite similar to matched betting. Back/lay arbing is where the back and lay odds are unbalanced, with those available from online bookmakers being a lot higher than the ones from the betting exchange.
In arbitrage betting, you take advantage of incorrect odds in order to guarantee yourself a profit.
This process can be recreated in the real world. For example, you see an iPad on sale in-store for £350. However, you’ve also seen the same model selling on eBay for £450. If you buy the iPad from the shop and then sell it on eBay, you’ve created an arb and made a profit of £100.
Let’s take this back to betting…
There are hundreds of different bookmakers supplying thousands of odds for thousands of different markets. That’s a lot of numbers to keep track of. And sometimes sports betting operators make mistakes. This is what makes arbing possible.
Back/lay arbing and matched betting
Earlier, we said that back/lay arbing was similar to matched betting. How? Well, with matched betting, the aim is to unlock value from bookmaker free bet promotions. Part of this process involves placing a qualifying bet (in order to unlock the free bet) and aiming to incur the smallest loss possible.
The difference with arbs is that instead of making a small loss with the qualifying bet, you’ll actually make a small profit.
Why do arbs happen?
Arbs are when there’s a significant difference between the back and lay odds available in a market. But how does that happen? One cause could be breaking news occurring right before a big match. For example, Liverpool are due to play in the Champions League final against AC Milan. But their star player, Mo Salah picks up an injury in training. Oh no! – He’s out of the final! This causes Liverpool’s chances of winning the match to drop massively, meaning that AC Milan’s rise and their odds for winning shorten.
However, Coral’s sports traders missed the news bulletin and have no idea. This means that they’re still offering odds of 3.5 on AC Milan while all of the other bookmakers have dropped the price to 2.8. If you place a bet a t Coral at 3.5, you can then place a lay bet at the exchange for a guaranteed profit.
Is arbitrage betting legal?
Yes, arbing is legal. However, bookmakers don’t like bettors doing it because it loses them money. And they really don’t like losing money. Some bettors who take arbing opportunities on a regular basis have reported having their accounts restricted or closed. This is because bookmakers can use software to find out which market was presenting an arb opportunity.
So if there’s a risk of accounts being closed, why do people arb?
The short answer is: to make a profit. The online bookmaker industry is stacked in the bookmakers favour. Arbing turns things around and puts the odds in the bettor’s favour instead. Matched betting also gives the bettor an edge over the bookmaker and increases their chances of making a profit.
When can you arb?
In theory, you can do arbitrage betting on any event where there’s a difference between the back and lay odds. However, it’s a good idea to stick to the big and popular markets because more people do ‘traditional’ betting on those. If you bet on an obscure market like the Algerian Ligue Professionals though, you’ll stand out like a sore thumb and perhaps make the arb more noticeable.
Horse Racing can throw up a lot of arbing opportunities because of the rapid changes in prices. Greyhound Racing is similar. You can also find arbing opportunities in Football. This is partly because it’s difficult for bookmakers to keep an eye on all of the odds and markets all of the time.