Sports Arbitrage Explained

Sports arbitrage

What is sports arbitrage?

A sports arbitrage situation occurs when bookmakers' prices differ enough that we can back all possible outcomes of an event and guarantee a risk-free profit no matter what the outcome.

Sports arbitrage betting opportunities are often referred to as an "arb", "surebet", "underround" or "overbroke".

Is sports arbitrage betting legal?

Sports arbitrage betting is 100% legal.

All that you are doing when you engage in sports arbitrage trading is placing a series of bets on opposing outcomes of a sporting event, which happens to guarantee a profit rather than a loss. Therefore there is nothing remotely illegal in arb betting.

Arbitrage is also popular in other contexts such as stock markets and Forex (foreign exchange / currency markets) where price differences can be exploited to guarantee profitable trades.

Don't bookmakers know about sports arbitrage?

Yes they do!

Bookmakers don't create arbitrage opportunities with their own prices. If this does ever happen it's because of a mistake. You can't go to one bookmaker and bet on all outcomes without losing money.

How do you make money from sports arbitrage?

In order to make a profit you must use at least two different bookmakers. Betting on all outcomes at the same bookmaker won't work. You have to find at least two bookmakers whose prices differ and are high enough on opposing outcomes so that an arb is created.

This was previously quite a challenge, in the days when betting shops and telephone betting were the only options. But with the number of bookmakers offering online betting growing all the time, we now have vastly more odds to compare than before.

An arbitrage trading example...

Imagine a fictional tennis match. "Bookmaker A" gives "Player 1" odds of 1.91 (10/11 in fractional odds format) and "Player 2" odds of 1.91 (10/11 in fractional). You couldn't make a profit by betting on both players at "Bookmaker A".

Let's say you then visit "Bookmaker B" and they're offering "Player 1" odds of 2.25 (5/4 in fractional) and "Player 2" odds of 1.73 (8/11 in fractional). Again you couldn't bet on both players at "Bookmaker B" and make a profit.

However on a total investment of £100, if you placed £54 on "Player 2" at "Bookmaker A" at odds of 1.91 (10/11 in fractional) and also £46 on "Player 1" at "Bookmaker B" at odds of 2.25 (5/4 in fractional) you would be guaranteed a profit of over 3% of your total stake no matter which player won.

Learn more with our real life in-depth sports arbitrage example, which includes everything you need to know, such as participants, bookmakers, stake calculations etc...

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