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What is Arbing?


Arbing or arbitrage betting is a trading technique where you bet on opposing outcomes in an event, exploiting the differences between prices provided by bookmakers and/or betting exchanges. The aim of arbing is to secure a risk-free profit. It has long been used in financial markets where traders will profit from different prices offered by brokers. With the betting industry being as competitive as ever, a similar approach can be adopted.

Here are some examples to illustrate how arbitrage betting works:

Assuming the case of a tennis match, an event in which there are just two possible outcomes, where one bookmaker is offering odds of 2.05 on player 1 and another site is offering odds of 2.05 on player 2. If you bet £500 on each player, you will win £25 regardless of which tennis player wins. This is your risk free profit.

In most cases of arbing you will be required to place a 'lay' bet on a betting exchange like In sports where multiple outcomes are possible you may need to place the opposite back/lay bet to your initial one. It would not always be realistic, or possible to back every selection with different bookmakers to guarantee a profit.

For example; one bookmaker decides to keep their price high on a certain football team in a particular match, with their traders taking the view that they want to lay them as much as possible:

Bookmaker Price: 3.2

Exchange Lay Price: 2.9

Meanwhile the exchange price has followed the rest of the market and it is able to be laid at a much lower price. If you were to place a £250 back bet with the bookmaker, this would return a profit of £550. Now we need to place a lay bet on the betting exchange. A £275 lay bet at 2.9 would give you a liability of £522.50.

If the selection wins = Win £550 with the bookmaker, lose £522.50 on the exchange.

£550 - £522.50 = £27.50 profit.

If the selection loses= Lose £250 with the bookmaker, win £275 on the exchange.

£275 - £250 = £25.00 profit.

It is important to designate significant funds for arbitrage betting. The reason for this is that you need to keep permanently funded accounts with a number of different bookmakers and betting exchanges. The time frame for an arbitrage opportunity may be short. You need to be ready to go as soon as arbitrage opportunities present themselves. This is a competitive field and the window of opportunity is likely to be a brief one. The delay incurred by funding necessary accounts may be enough to miss your chance.

Sometimes the question is asked, is arbitrage betting legal? The answer to this is yes. Arbitrage bets are the same as "regular" bets. The only difference is that you are placing multiple bets to exploit price differences on betting sites, there is nothing illegal or illicit about this.

Finding arbitrage bets may seem like finding a needle in a haystack unless you use arbitrage betting software. This is because only a small proportion of the vast number of bets placed every day will provide the opportunity for arbitrage betting. In addition, because of the time critical nature of arbitrage betting you need software that provides as close to real time odds as possible, from both bookmakers and exchanges.

This software monitors the bookmakers and betting exchanges for arbitrage opportunities. When the software finds such an opportunity you can choose to set an alert.

An example arbitrage software application is RebelBetting.

Even if you do not plan on using the RebelBetting application, a useful list of bookmakers and betting exchanges is to be found at the RebelBetting web site:

The list includes a RebelBetting rating, which indicates how useful the bookmaker or betting exchange is with RebelBetting, and, by implication, how likely they are to provide an arbitrage opportunity. (The list also includes Sports Book Review rating for the bookmaker / betting exchange.)

Isn’t this all too good to be true? Surely there must be some risks involved?

Indeed, it's not quite 100% risk free, and there are definitely some drawbacks.

  • If one of the bets is cancelled or the market is voided, the locked in profit is gone and the remaining bet is now just a regular bet (an open bet). This means your stake will be at risk.
  • Occasionally bookmakers cancel bets because they have made a "palpable" error, this is a mistake with a published set of odds that the customer should have known was an "obvious" error (e.g. the odds are completely out of line with what’s on offer with other betting sites). Again in this situation it could leave you with just one side of your arb, which will be at risk.
  • You, rather than the bookmaker, may make an error. For example, you make the first bet and then realise you don’t have enough funds to cover the other bet with the second bookmaker.
  • When odds are moving fast it’s possible that while you are in the process of placing a bet at the first bookmaker, the odds move against you at the second.
  • A lack of liquidity on the betting exchange may mean you are not be able to get your bet fully matched, this will leave you with some degree of exposure.
  • Bookmakers where you need to place a bet to complete an arb may have limited your betting activity in some way that prevents you from making the necessary bet.
  • Arbitrage software applications that use near real-time odds will not be free. So the cost of using such software needs to be factored in as well.
  • Often, arbs will only earn you a small amount of profit and the time taken to find and execute these may not be worth it.
  • While arbing can be a great way to take advantage of the competitive betting industry we see at present, the trades need to be carefully thought out if all the risks above are to be avoided.

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