But you may also be wondering: is it legal?
The good news is that yes, as long as you are over 18 and live in the UK or Ireland, then it is legal.
The bookies themselves have even confirmed this. Here is what Graham Sharpe from William Hill, one of the UK’s biggest bookies, said about matched betting:-
“There’s no illegal element. It’s a free bet and you can do what you like.” That was from a Daily Telegraph article in 2010.
A big relief then that you are able to legally match bet. But there are some potential snags and catches with matched betting you should be aware of, which we have a look at in more detail below.
What Exactly is Matched Betting?
First up, before we get into the nitty-gritty of things, it is probably worth going over what matched betting actually is in case you are not sure.
Basically, matched betting is the art of using the bookmakers’ free bets and bonuses to make risk-free cash. You can read our full guide to matched betting here.
You see, when a bookie offers a “free bet,” it often isn’t actually a “free” bet in the true sense of the word.
You will normally have to place a qualifying bet first using your own money, so if that bet loses and then the free bet loses, you will be out of pocket.
Plus the free bets often come with strings attached, like you have to wager a certain amount before the bookies will credit you with the free bet or your winnings.
So what great matched betting packages like Profit Maximiser do is take all these offers – and there are literally dozens and dozens of these offers every month – and show you how to set them up in such a way that you cannot lose, whatever happens.
Matched betting is risk free by virtue of using what is called an exchange like Betfair or Smarkets, which are platforms where people bet against each other rather than the bookies.
So what you can do is hedge your bets, so that you bet against – or in other words “lay” – your free bet with the exchanges.
If done in the right way to the right stakes, this will ensure you cannot lose and will make a nice profit.
Do this over and over again and you have yourself a nice little earner.
Now you can see why matched betting is so popular!
Why is Matched Betting Legal?
Given that it is sure-fire way to make money, you might ask why matched betting is legal.
Well, the truth is that you are doing nothing wrong. The bookies are offering you a free bet, which you are perfectly entitled to use – and you are also perfectly entitled to hedge that bet elsewhere if you please.
Both parts of the “matched bet” are legitimate in the UK and therefore they also legitimate as a whole.
The bookies provide these free bets because they want you to sign up as a customer – the competition amongst bookies is fierce so they have to offer an incentive for you to sign up to them rather than one of their competitors.
Whilst the bookies may acknowledge the legality of matched betting though, that doesn’t mean they like it – and that is what you have to watch out for…
The Bookies Don’t Like It – As in Really Don’t Like It
So yes, matched betting is legal and the bookies have acknowledged that. But that doesn’t mean they like it.
You see, what the bookies really want – and need if their business model is to succeed – is for punters to lose.
People who just use the free bets and bonuses are unlikely to be losing much money and most will be making money. Some who use matched betting packages that bring together all the offers make thousands of pounds from it. Hence the bookies not liking it.
So if they see that you are taking advantage of their free bets and not doing much – or any – other betting then they will be likely to shut down your account or to stop offering you the free bets.
That is their right and unfortunately under current law, there is nothing you can do to force the bookies to reverse the decision once they have limited you or shut you down.
Thankfully though, there are plenty of other bookies out there, so you can just move on to the next one.
Plus there are a wide range of steps you can take to avoid the bookies limiting you in the first place, which we have detailed here in our rather handy little article “How to Keep your Bookie Accounts Open.”
When Things Get a Little Sinister
The sad fact is that the bookies have become a little worried about so many people doing matched betting so have recently taken to tracking the activity of punters.
They do this via spyware such as Iesnare, which sits hidden in the background on your computer and tracks whether you are doing any matched betting.
This is very sneaky and to be honest, a little sinister. We are also somewhat surprised that it is legal. Some people are apparently challenging it in the courts, but for the time being it is allowed.
What You Shouldn’t Do
As you may have gathered by now from reading this article, the battle between bookies and punters over the question of matched betting has got quite extreme and it will be interesting to see where things end up.
One thing you should not do though is open another bookie account using a different e-mail or name. This is illegal so please don’t do it.
The bookies have terms and conditions that state you are only allowed one account per customer, so respect their t&c’s.
Some bookies even have stipulations that only one account is allowed per household, to stop people from using a partner’s/brother’s/sister’s/third-cousin’s-once-removed details to sign up for a new account.
This may seem a little over the top but they are allowed to do this, so again we have to respect their rules whilst they are entitled to do this.
Matched Betting Outside the UK
The opportunities for matched betting outside the UK are fairly limited. In the first instance, in a number of countries gambling is illegal, therefore ruling it out straight away.
In some other countries like France, betting exchanges are banned, thus eliminating the chance to match bet.
Even in countries where both gambling and exchanges are allowed however, in many of these places the bookies do not offer free bets, thus meaning you can’t match bet.
So with the exception of the Republic of Ireland, there are limited opportunities to do matched betting outside the UK unfortunately.
Matched betting is legal in the UK and you should have no worries doing it. As long as you are over 18 and don’t try to open multiple accounts with the same bookie, then it is perfectly ok.
Make sure you take steps not to have your accounts closed or limited due to abusing the offers though, as it is a real shame when you lose your accounts.
Done properly though, matched betting is a great opportunity to make some risk-free cash and to buy yourself a few things you deserve with the proceeds.