Is Matched Betting Still Working and WorthWhile in 2017?
Many people do matched betting. During a recent and very in depth look at the various examples of Betfair trading software, something came up that has been on my radar for some time. Whilst I had followed the rumours, I was somewhat surprised to see that Betfair had finally merged with bookmakers Paddy Power to form Paddy Power Betfair PLC.
Combine this with the news that Ladbrokes and Gala Coral may finally be merging and the landscape of bookmakers and betting exchanges and it demonstrates some massive changes.
Given how it is a proven method of income for a lot of users, my thoughts soon began to turn towards matched betting and how these changes will affect the community. Aside from what the future holds, even now bookmakers are battling desperately to try and curb matched betting and the losses that they incur from it.
It is estimated that the betting industry may be losing as much as £20 million per month through matched betting. Given the fact that in 2014 showed that the betting industry had revenues worth in excess of £7 billion, this may seem like a drop in the ocean but a business is a business and any source of lost revenue will be investigated.
There are multitude of different ways that bookies are already trying to fight back against matched betting (which I will explore below). Some of these are more successful than others but it seems to me that right now is very much a do or die time for matched betting.
As time has passed, this method of making money has moved from the mind of Mike Cruickshank (the marketer behind the first major matched betting product) all the way to articles in serious newspapers such as The Guardian and The Times.
I have also watched news spread of matched betting on forums for students and stay at home mums, appearing on money saving websites and recommended by some financial gurus. On top of this, the number of companies that are dedicated to matched betting has increased exponentially, particularly over the last few years.
Obviously something somewhere is going to have to give. Whether this is matched betting slowly being closed down or bookmakers accepting it as an assessed risk of their business and allowing the practice remains to be seen. There is a lot to talk about on the subject and I intend to try and cover all of it with this article.
What Is Matched Betting?
If you have landed here and read to this point, I presume that you have some knowledge of what matched betting involves, however I will provide some details for those who are perhaps researching the topic before committing to a long term subscription.
Matched betting allows people to take advantage of bookmakers special offers in order to get bets that they can place for free.
Once you have free bet/money in your betting account, you use a strategic betting approach to find games where it is possible to profit no matter the outcome. This typically involves placing a bet with a bookmaker using a free bet and then laying the same bet on a betting exchange.
This way, whichever outcome occurs, you end up profiting. We did a full review on Matched Betting Basics Here.
This is only a very vague description of what matched betting entails though. The full thing is actually slightly more complicated however I have highlighted the part that is important to me. Betfan involves betting one way with a bookies and another on the exchange. Given the overlap that is starting to appear between the two and I feel that it is apparent where my concerns are coming from.
What Are Bookmakers Currently Doing to Stop Matched Betting?
Now more than ever, bookmakers are closing accounts left right and centre. There doesn’t need to be any real need for an infraction in order to allow them to do this either. In fact, a lot of bookmakers have it written into their terms and conditions that they can simply close your account without giving you any prior notice of this.
For example, Ladbrokes say that “We reserve the right to close your account at any time for any reason”. Betfair say that “Either we or you may suspend or terminate you account at any time, either with or without cause”. Bet 365 say “bet365 reserves the right to close or suspend your account at any time and for any reason”. This goes on and on and it is something that a lot of bookmakers are using to stop those that they suspect of matched betting.
Keeping Matched Betting Accounts Open is Like Roulette:
Anybody who has been involved in matched betting will be able to tell you that there is a pretty clear trail that you leave. For example, all of your bets will happen to coincide with the offers that the bookies put out, closely followed by a bet on a seemingly unrelated event. Not to mention that almost all of your bets happen to be with free bets.
I could go on, but the fact is that bookmakers are employing increasingly high tech options to monitor what punters are doing.
Enter IEsnare. This is a little tool that has caused a lot of division amongst the betting community and frankly, with very good reason. It is a piece of software that is often downloaded without consent in the background when you access a bookmakers website. This is undeniably an unethical process, however the legality of it is something that is still being considered (unfortunately, I don’t believe that this is an argument that punters will win however).
We did a complete review and more detail on IEsnare Here
What IEsnare does however is the real devil. It is software that monitors what websites you are accessing and sending this data back to the bookies. Naturally, you can see why this has upset a lot of people. One of the reasons that it is suspected that this software is now being used however is in order to catch out matched betting accounts.
By looking for certain patterns in your browsing habits (for example going from a bookmakers website to a matched betting site to a betting exchange and then back to the bookies), bookmakers can identify those who are taking money out of their pockets and simply close them down.
In this kind of position, it doesn’t matter whether or not a punter is winning or losing their bets because they are still taking money out of the gambling industry.
The Future of Matched Betting?
This all brings me in a very roundabout way to my initial line of though.
Of the big bookmakers in the UK, there are (arguably) 6 that really matter. Coral, Ladbrokes, William Hill, Betfair, Bet365 and Paddy Power. Once upon a time, betting exchanges were very much independent from their bookmaking counterparts. In fact, when betting exchanges first started to take off, a number of bookmakers lobbied to have the practice made illegal.
Now however, you have Betfair and Paddy Power operating as one. This means that two of the largest bookmakers have access to the same data from the largest betting exchange in the world. Ladbrokes bought out Betdaq, a betting exchange that many see to be the closest to a serious rival that Betfair’s exchange has some time ago.
With the potential merging of Ladbrokes and Gala Coral, this will mean that 4 of the 6 biggest bookmakers in the UK will hold the reigns over betting exchanges.
If for any reason you don’t see how this can lead to a potential abuse of power, then you are a much more optimistic man than I. The truth is that you don’t have to look far at all in order to see examples of bookmakers screwing people out of winnings, closing accounts etc. and that is with the relatively primitive tools that they have at their disposal right now.
The people behind matched betting are a resourceful bunch and I don’t doubt that they will be able to continue to take the proverbial fight to bookmakers for a few years yet. Longer term however, I wouldn’t hold my breath at all. Historically, anybody who has been too successful in betting has had to pay one way or another.
Whether it is punters being banned from all the bookies in their area (way back when) to Betfair introducing additional charges for their top earners. I see no reason why matched betting will be any different in the long term.
So is this the End of Matched Betting?
I am currently writing this in early March and I genuinely think that matched betting does have a bit of wind in its sails yet. It will take time for bookies to really be able to lock things down in the way that they appear to want to.
I also feel that there is something to be said for the number of betting accounts that will suddenly end up inactive as a result of a “ban” on matched betting (I put ban in quotation marks there because I don’t think the practice will ever formally banned, it will simply be squashed in such a way that it becomes impossible to carry out).
Really, I think that what you are currently looking at with the matched betting scene is the beginning of the end. The way that bookies are currently merging and the steps that they are taking to combat matched bettors in these relatively early days suggests that their approach is going to be one of singlemindedness.
What are the Alternatives to Matched Betting?
In terms of “direct” alternatives to matched betting, there simply aren’t that many options available. The fact is that there has been very unique climate which has allowed people to make money through this method and it seems unlikely that it will ever exist again. That doesn’t mean that it is the be all and end all however and there are a number of ways of making money both through betting with bookies or on betting exchanges.
The one that you will see mostly often are tipster services but I have to say that this is a very expensive option. Furthermore, these are often expensive and there is no evidence to suggest that any tipster is able to consistently generate a profit. The same applies to a lot of old fashioned mechanical betting systems. These usually involve “patterns” like a horse that hasn’t lost in its last 3 races but where it isn’t favourite or some such ideology.
There are a number of more advanced trading systems however and these arguably have the most merit in my book.
The first example that I believe is worth serious consideration is dutching. This involves betting in such a way that you reduce the possible losing outcomes. Ideally, and when you have honed this method, you can even bet in such a way as to guarantee a profit no matter what. This isn’t however the quick fix that matched betting is and it can take substantially more work and funding in order to be able to make a decent profit consistently.
One of the big advantages to learning how to Dutch is that you can use it “on demand”.
One of the more impressive methods that I have seen recently however is scalping. This is a method of trading on a betting exchange that has been lifted from the trading floors of major stock exchanges. The method allows you to lock in profits before an event even begins which means that there is no having to focus on events and bet in play (something that can be required when dutching).
With the right training, it is not inconceivable to see around 20 opportunities to “scalp” in a single day. It probably won’t come as a surprise to regular readers that I am espousing Betfair scalping as I recently recommended BF Scalper, a fantastic training course that shows you everything that you need to know to start making money with this method. This is reviewed elsewhere on this site.
Conclusion on Matched Betting Going Forward
Matched betting has more than ran its course and it has done a very good job of making a lot of people rather substantially wealthier. Unfortunately, every bubble has to burst and I think that the matched betting one may be due. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that everybody cancel their matched betting subscriptions tomorrow, there is still money to be made.
When you take into consideration how effective matched betting can be as well, I would be inclined to flog that proverbial horse until it is well and truly dead.
That having been said, I think that now is probably the time to start exploring some of the other options that are available to you. There are plenty out there and they show much stronger traits of sustainability. I don’t think that they are flawless. To suggest otherwise would be naïve, however there are some clear positives. One of the main ones in my opinion is that you are learning a skill and as such, you can apply Dutching and even more appropriately scalping to any given situation.
The truth is that bookies hate losing. I have always said that they will do almost anything to ensure that they remain profitable and the existence of IESsnare alone backs this up. The software is highly unethical, legally dubious and will more likely than not be defended on the grounds that it will help to stop money laundering.
As more bookies begin to come together, the shared interest in closing down losing revenue streams is going to become more prominent. Matched betting is going to end up on the receiving end of this at some point or other and when it does, there are going to be a lot of people left wanting.
The only thing that is going to keep matched betting moving forward in the future in my eyes is the will of the people behind the services.
There is no denying that these are some of the brightest minds in betting and as I have touched upon, I also don’t doubt that they have some tricks left up their sleeves, but against the combined might of bookies I simply don’t see what can be done in the long term.
I set out to consider whether or not matched betting is still a worthwhile endeavour and the short answer to this is yes, but possibly not for long. Personally, I would be looking at other methods now rather than later, especially if you are strongly reliant on the income from matched betting.