What is Arbitrage Betting

Is arbitrage betting really a sure way to win? Yes, in theory. But lots of problems in reality.

Arbitrage Betting

Betting Arbitrage also called Surebets is a sure way to win a bet however the outcome. This happens when two different bookmakers (Sports betting companies) give different odds on the outcome of the same bet. And that too in such a way that betting one way on one bookie and the other way on the other bookie guarantees a profit. This is true regardless of whichever way the bet turns. For example:

In a match between Murray and Nadal, the following odds are offered by two bookmakers:

Sportingbet odds for Murray/Nadal – 1.26/4.0, Unibet – 1.42/2.85.

In this match, if you bet $35.50 at Sportingbet on Nadal to win(4.0), the outcome will be $35.50 x 4 = $142.

If you bet $100 at Unibet for Murray to win(1.42), the outcome will be $100 x 1.42 = $142.

So whoever wins the match (Nadal or Murray) you will receive the same that is $142. Your total stake = $35.50 + $135.50 = $135.50. So profit is $142 – $135.50 = $6.50.

In this case, you will get a profit of $6.50 regardless of the outcome of the bet. This is what makes it a sure bet.

Finding Arbitrage Betting

  1. Use odds comparison sites or search manually for the same betting events with different odds on multiple bookmakers.
  2. Find the greatest odds on each-way bets on two different bookmaker.
  3. Make a calculation whether the odds favour Arbitrage Betting.
  4. If it does, calculate the individual stakes to bet on each bookmaker.
  5. Place the two bets.

Arbitrage Betting Calculation

The formula for calculating whether the betting odds are good for Arbitrage betting is as follows:

        Arbitrage % = ((1 / decimal odds for outcome A) x 100) + ((1 / decimal odds for outcome B) x 100)

Using the example given above:

Nadal to Win = (1/1.42) x 100 = 70.422%
Murray to Win = (1/4) x 100 = 25.000%

Total Arbitrage % = 70.422 + 25.000 = 95.422%. (Which is less than 100%, therefore is an Arbitrage Bet)

If Arbitrage Betting is a mathematically correct theory, why don’t more people do it?

We have illustrated in the above example that Arbitrage betting is a sound theory. It is possible to make a bet where profit is absolutely guaranteed, or no loss is incurred. But how is it in real practice today?

There are many web articles and youtube videos singing the wonders of Arbitrage betting. However, the reality of this theory in action today is fraught with many problems which are detailed below:

  • Arbitrage betting is well known to the Bookmaker community. Therefore the chances of bets which are Arbitrary are seldom found nowadays. Especially with the online betting sites, they can correct the mistake quickly since it is in all the bookies’ interest to not offer Arbitrage betting. It will be like searching for a needle in a haystack. It will consume considerable time and effort and may not be worth it for some.
  • Even when the rare Arbitrary bets are found, betting activities will change the odds very quickly. One may have say 15 minutes till the odds becomes unfavourable. This makes it very risky for the bettor to make the bets in time on two or more separate bookmakers. Especially since the bet has to be large enough to make worthwhile profit, it will usually be reviewed manually which takes time. If the odds changes while one or more leg is still pending, it will result in huge losses instead of profits.
  • The average profit in arbitrage betting are usually 1-5% or less. This means that a lot of capital has to be risked to get adequate profit. In addition, there might be betting exchange commisssions, charges on payment methods, deposits or withdrawal which will also further eat away the very little profit. If a mistake is made on one arbitrage betting, it may require more than 40 other bets to recoup the loss.
  • Although it is not considered illegal, most bookmakers check their members for signs of arbitrage betting. If found out, the accounts are usually blocked or limited. Today’s online bookmakers are adept at finding arbitrage bettors. Some people had to take the trouble to hide behind VPN and VPS services to prevent suspicion. These services cost money so eats away at the thin margin even further.
  • Arbitrage betting involve movement of large funds between many bookmakers having different payment and withdrawal methods. This results in delay which is not good for quick betting. These also eventually results in extra costs.

Is Arbitrage Betting worth your time?

We know its theory is sound. If found, Arbitrage betting can guarantee profit. But yet there is so many problems finding and then making the bet as explained above. Therefore practically, it can be said that it may not be worth one’s time and effort in pursuing Arbitrage Betting.


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