Matched Betting – Is It Legal? Does No Risk Betting Really Exist?

If you’re a serious bettor or an avid fan of sports betting news, chances are high that you’ve come across the term “matched betting.”
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5 min
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Shadrack Kairu
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If you’re a serious bettor or an avid fan of sports betting news, chances are high that you’ve come across the term “matched betting.” This is a risk-free betting technique that involves placing two bets that guarantee a profit no matter the outcome.

To do this, you use free bets to wager on all outcomes of a match so that you earn some profit without risking your cash.

Does it seem too good to be true? Keep reading to learn everything about matched betting including how it works, whether it’s legal and where you can place matched bets.

Matched Betting Explained

Sportsbooks use incentives such as freebies, bonuses, and similar perks to attract new customers.

Matched betting takes advantage of these free products and turns them into real cash by placing multiple bets that cover all potential outcomes. By doing so, bettors are guaranteed to profit no matter the outcome.

Before we progress further, there are two things that you must understand to participate in matched betting: back bets and lay bets.

Back Bets

A back bet is a bet predicting which team will win. Imagine choosing team A to win over team B. If A emerges victorious, you win the bet and take home the profits. By picking team A, you have “backed” it to win.

Lay Bets

A lay bet is the opposite of a back bet. In a lay bet, you bet on something not happening. If team A and team B are competing, a lay bet on team B is a bet that B won’t win the game. If team B loses, you win your lay bet.

If the game ends as a draw, you also win because team B didn’t win the match.

Now that we understand what back bets and lay bets are, we can explain how matched betting is done.

How Matched Betting Works

Matched betting uses both back bets and lay bets. Bettors back a particular team to win and then lay against the same team to cover all risks. Unlike standard betting, which is largely uncertain, matched betting involves risk-averse calculations. Players calculate how much to wager in order to avoid losses.

There are plenty of platforms on the internet that offer a ‘Lay Calculator’ to help you calculate the amount you should wager to avoid incurring losses.

A Step-to-Step Matched Betting Process

1. Register two real money accounts

Sign up for a real money account with a betting exchange like Betfair and register another account with a different betting exchange, such as 888sport.

2. Place a qualifying bet

Matched betting takes advantage of the free bets and other promos a bookmaker offers. To get the free bet bonus, you need to deposit some money and wager a given amount of cash. This is what is referred to as the qualifying bet. You may win or lose when wagering your first deposit, but the primary goal is to earn the free bet.

3. Back a bet using the bonus cash

Wager a back bet on the match of your choice with one of the bookies.

4. Lay the bet on the betting exchange

Place lay bet on the same event you backed to ensure that all the options are fully covered.

You do not have to worry about losing money because you will be playing with your free bets.

What Matched Betting Terms Should You Be Familiar With?

Besides back and lay betting, you should also acquaint yourself with a few other matched betting terms.

Lay Commission

Bookmakers make their money through game odds when you place bets, and betting exchanges charge a tiny percentage from winnings made from lay bets.

However, the commission doesn’t make matched betting unfavourable. Even when you pay the commission, you remain with a sizeable profit almost every time.


Liability simply refers to the amount of cash that’s at stake when you lay a bet. For instance, if you placed a £20 bet with a sportsbook offering odds of 5.0 for a home win, you stand to win £80 profit if the home team wins.

This means that the sportsbook has a liability of £80. And since the person who lays a bet becomes the bookmaker in matched betting, you’ll have a liability of £80 when laying the bet.

Qualifying Loss

Qualifying loss refers to the loss you incur when you make your first deposit and wager to unlock the free bet. Punters view this as a form of investment for a significant financial reward.

A Real-Life Example of Matched Betting

For this example, let’s assume that Ladbrokes is giving out a £25 free bet for new players who deposit a minimum of £25.

You sign up, deposit and wager the £25 to get the free bet bonus. After that, you receive your free bet.

You decide to wager on a game between Leeds United and Arsenal. Leeds United is given a back odds of 5.0 to beat Arsenal. When you visit a betting exchange such as Betfair, you find out that Leeds has lay odds of 5.2.

Log into your Ladbrokes account and stake the £25 free bet on a Leeds United win. Next, log into your Betfair exchange account and lay Leeds. This means you’re betting Leeds will lose.

Deciding How Much To Lay

The amount of money you wager in a lay bet is determined by calculations.

Input all pertinent information into a lay betting calculator to calculate the amount of money you should stake. In our case, we input this information into the lay betting calculator:

  • Back stake – £25
  • Back odds – 5.0
  • Lay odds 5.2
  • Lay commission (5% at Betfair)

The calculator recommends a lay bet of £19.42 to make a profit. It also displays the liability, which is £81.56. Your betting exchange wagering account must contain more than £19.42 for your lay bet to go through.

If Leeds United emerges as the winner, you’ll win £100 on Ladbrokes and lose £81.56 on Betfair. If Leeds United loses or draws, you’ll lose nothing on Ladbroke since you’re using a free bet. However, you’ll earn £19.42 profit on Betfair. When you subtract the 5% commission, you’ll remain with £18.44 on this matched bet.

Although £18 doesn’t seem like much, you can increase the profit by repeating the whole process multiple times. You can build your bankroll bit by bit and make handsome profits.

Matched Betting Tips

Here are some tips to help you succeed in matched betting.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

If you want to reap the benefits of matched betting, you must start small and take time to learn before you splurge. Ensure that you start with the least complicated offers.

Ask your bookmaker questions about matched betting

If there’s something that you don’t understand about matched betting, don’t hesitate to consult your bookmaker’s customer support to get information about bonuses and offers. You can also look for helpful forums where people share insightful knowledge about matched betting.

Consolidate your accounts and keep track of your funds

Ensure that your usernames and passwords for different bookmakers are kept safe. You can only track your profits if you remember all the passwords to all your gaming accounts.

Leverage odds comparison sites and lay betting calculators

If you want to wager on the most valuable odds, sign up for an account with an odds comparison website. You’ll also need access to a lay calculator.

Only sign up with secure and reliable bookmakers

You need to be sure that your betting platform is not giving you a raw deal. The free bets offered should have reasonable terms and conditions. More importantly, the bookie you choose needs to guarantee the safety of your private information and finances.

What are the Top Matched Betting Sites?

If you’re serious about matched betting, here are some resources you can use:

  • Odds Monkey
  • Profit Accumulator
  • Profit Maximiser
  • Profit squad
  • MatchedBets

For those interested in betting exchanges, these are considered the best:

  • Betfair
  • Matchbook
  • BetDaq
  • Smarkets
  • Ladbrokes

Best Bookies for Matched Betting

Any sportsbook that provides free bets can be exploited for a profit. But remember that the bonus offers are tied to extensive terms and conditions that you need to fulfil. Though some bookies have more appealing terms than others.

Some limit the use of free bets to a single person per household. Before you leverage any sportsbook for matched betting, ensure that you’ve read their terms and conditions.

Is Matched Betting Risky?

Matched betting is considered low-risk. When done correctly, you can’t lose money. Some people claim that it’s not a form of betting but a money-making system that requires online bookmakers to implement. However, you’ll still encounter some risks in matched betting:

Human Errors

Individuals may make mistakes that may lead to losses here and there. These mistakes include betting on the wrong outcome and entering incorrect details in the lay calculator.

Luckily, these problems will only result in minor losses. And, they can be easily fixed.

Palpable Errors

A palpable error is a practice by shady bookmakers.

They pretend to have overpriced their odds and ask you to take a substantially lower payout once they “fix” the pricing.

Is Matched Betting Worth it Today?

The numbers don’t lie. It’s clear that matched betting is worth giving a try. But it depends on individual circumstances. If you have the appropriate tools and resources at your disposal, you can make a 100% risk-free profit from matched betting.

Although bookies have tried to tighten up the loopholes that matched bettors use, there are still thousands of pounds to be made online with matched betting. Some people claim to make £200-£2000 per month.

Written by:

Shadrack Kairu

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