Around five years ago, I ventured into the world of matched betting. I’d read about others who were making hundreds of pounds using the system and I figured that I could too. However, I actually discovered that it’s a dangerous game and I no longer believe that no risk matched betting exists. So if you’re struggling for money, or you’re looking for an easy way to make some extra cash, then I’d advise you to exercise caution. Matched betting may not provide the answers you were looking for.
How does matched betting work?
Sports betting companies, including William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and the rest, often offer online punters offers and deals. They tend to be the most lucrative for new users, but roughly every month or two, they will send current members reload offers through, as a bonus. They are emailed in the form of a code.
Of course, you can apply to be a member of all the leading bookmaker sites if you want to. This means that you’ll get emailed reload offers from them all from time to time. It also means that there’s often plenty of free bets on the table.
These free bet offers are marketed to you. You might be encouraged to gamble on sports, or the horses. Or perhaps they’;ll suggest placing a cheeky accumulator. The email will suggest that you place your free bet, for fun, hoping to make some free money.
The matched betting system
Some people use these free bets to make a guaranteed profit, through a system called matched betting. This is not a matched betting guide, but in the name of understanding, I will briefly explain how the system works. With the matched betting system, you use the free bets that the bookies give you to make a profit every time.
You ensure that you make money back no matter what the outcome is, by hedging your bets, so to speak. You place a lay bet, which means that you put money on the alternative outcome. That way, you always get a return, no matter what. In the gambling world, this is known as dutching. For dutching to work, you need to calculate the correct stake to place on each selection, to ensure that you always get a return. You do this using a matched betting calculator.
People tend to use the Betfair Exchange to lay. Other exchanges are available, but Betfair is the one people tend to use, as it’s a brand they’re familiar with. Betters also need to understand odds, so there’s an element of maths involved.
Matched betting tends to happen online. I have never heard of anybody going into a bookmakers to do it. You simply apply to the the bookmaker sites, take advantage of the new customer offers and then await reload offers.
There are lots of websites, memberships and Facebook groups dedicated to helping people navigate matched betting. Profit Squirrel and Profit Accumulator are the sites that people often review and promote (which is probably partly down to their generous referral programmes). If you became a user, then typically you’d get access to a matched betting calculator and a list of the best offers currently available.
Matched betting – is it a scam?
No, matched betting isn’t a scam. It’s a technique that you can use to profit from the free bets and other incentives that the bookies offer. It’s perfectly legal too.
I often see it marketed as ‘no risk matched betting’, because the system is based on the application of a mathematical equation, rather than chance. However, in reality, I think that being presented with lots of bookmaking and casino offers can be dangerous for some.
Are there free matched betting programmes available?
You might be wondering if there are free matched betting tools available and if you look, you will find them. It is possible to make money matched betting using the free systems, but the paid-for memberships and sites will help to make the process easier.
That’s if you decide to go down that route. I personally think you should exercise serious caution. With any type of betting, I truly believe that the bookmaker always wins and matched betting is no exception to that.
Is the matched betting system easy?
Plenty of people successfully navigate the matched betting system. There are online guides and software that promises to make it simple. However, just because it is possible to successfully use the matched betting system, doesn’t mean that everybody finds it easy. Some people do make mistakes and of course, you’re dealing with real money, so it can be costly. I’ve seen plenty of people on Instagram saying they’ve lost money through an error.
You may get your head around the system quickly and find that you can operate it without any problems. But there are no guarantees and mistakes can (and do) happen. When you’re betting, there’s is always a risk attached.
What have you got against free bet offers?
Gambling is a real issue in Britain. According to a survey commissioned by the GambleAware, up to 1.4 million people in Great Britain are problem gamblers. Those people were all introduced to betting in some way and I think it’s possible that matched betting was a route for some.
Also, if somebody is looking to make money through matched betting then it’s possible they have lacked control in the past. I have. I’ve built up debt, I’ve overeaten and I’ve binge drank. However, other than the odd flutter on The Grand National, I’d never gambled. This changed when I wandered into the world of matched betting. But by immersing myself in that world, I got lured into placing a bet here and a bet there. I thought it was an easy way to make £10, rather than the £2.21 I’d get by using the matched betting equation. Of course I didn’t win the £10, but that didn’t stop me from trying again.
You could say “you should have stuck to the system, Claire”. And of course you’re right, I should have. But I didn’t and that’s not because I’m a stupid person. I gambled because the whole industry is built to urge people to try for more. And like plenty of others, my personality is susceptible to that type of marketing.
I haven’t lost my livelihood due to betting, but that’s only because I recognised that I was going down a slippery slope. I chose to close down my betting accounts. This sounds drastic, but I did it so I’m not tempted by them when I’m bored.
But free bets could help me to pay the bills
If you’re a student, you’ve recently lost you’re job, or you’re simply trying to boost your income, then I can see why matched betting would appeal. It could provide you with a solution, but only if you can ensure that you won’t be lead down a path to gambling.
Since the pandemic hit, millions have lost their jobs, but there will be less risky solutions to your financial situation. I have written about coping with redundancy for those in that predicament.
Casino offers – are they low risk?
Casino offers often go hand in hand with matched betting. These offers are advertised on matched betting websites and I’ve seen people promoting them on Instagram. However, I believe these casino offers are even more dangerous and soul destroying. You could spend hours playing games using welcome offers, only to walk away with 50p once you’ve completed the waging requirements.
Also, because you’re used to playing the games with free money, when it runs out, it would be easy to aimlessly add your own.
Just avoid them. Seriously. There’s only one winner when it comes to those games and it isn’t you or I.
I’m not the only one
An Instagram friend recently confessed that they’d tried matched betting, but due to “stupidity” they’d gambled away money they didn’t have.
I don’t think that gambling is stupidity at all. I think that gambling companies use sophisticated marketing to tap into the psychology of people. There’s a reason why the industry is worth over £14 billion in Britain alone and that reason is more complex than human idiocy. When it comes to bookmakers and betting, there are always a risks.
A bet will lead to bets
Why do you think that bookmakers give people free bets? It isn’t because they are being kind and generous. They know that if they give you a free bet, you’re likely to use it, as well as spending some additional cash of your own. They also send them out to remind you that you can bet on an upcoming sports event, or horse-racing meet. Habitual bettors are more likely to spend at the bookies, so offers are sent out to entice people to spend.
Bets often lead to bets if you’re matched betting too. If you become familiar with bookmaking sites, odds and making cash through the bookies, then of course you’re more likely to place an additional bet or two.
Who benefits from matched betting?
On the face of it, betting companies aren’t benefiting from matched betting, as they’re losing money. They will also ban people they identify as playing the system. However, it’s perfectly legal and the betting industry is still worth billions, so matched betting isn’t impacting the industry’s profitability.
There are companies offering software and lists of matched betting and casino offers which you could potentially exploit. You pay for membership and if somebody has recommended the site to you, they get a monetary reward too.
I have seen peoples’ matched betting profit records and I do believe you can make money. However, I also strongly believe that no risk matched betting is a marketing illusion and that venturing into the bookmaking world is a risk. You might think it won’t be for you, but how do you know?
Is betting in this way worth it?
For me, this way of betting is not worth it. Does matched betting work? For some it does. It can be profitable and I don’t doubt that it’s been a rewarding side hustle for some. I’m also not sat here, claiming that you can’t make money by combining control with the matched betting system. I have seen people claiming to be making £500+ per month using this system and to be honest, I can believe it. Some people will be making that kind of cash. But can they genuinely say that they’ve not gambled a little bit away on the side too?
I’d always argue that no risk matched betting is a fallacy and I’d advise caution if you’re considering trying it. If you decide to give it a whirl, then go into with with your eyes wide open; there’s always a risk attached with gambling and low risk is still a risk. No risk betting is something that simply does not exist.
If matched betting really was as good as people say, would the bookmakers not put a stop to it? I think they allow it to happen, because they know that this is a route into the traditional gambling world for some.
Still want to try your hand at matched betting? Well that’s up to you. But please exercise caution and if you find yourself betting for fun, stop.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2020 and has been completely revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.