Is matched betting legal?
March 25, 2017
“Is matched betting legal?” is a question that has plagued gamblers for years, as one of the most innovative betting methods of the last few decades has gradually spread its wings.
To the uninitiated, it can come across as a scam – akin to the endless pop-ups that promote seemingly risk-free, get-rich-quick schemes.
Yet matched betting is legal, and has provided some players with a steady revenue stream for years – provided they do their homework.
More than one expert has weighed in on the subject before. The consensus is that the bookies can have no complaint over a punter placing a separate lay bet with a betting exchange in order to lower their liability.
There is nothing wrong, in other words, with gambling on a particular outcome on a website using an offer, only to bet on the exact opposite outcome with someone else in order to have all bases covered. In fact, William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe confirmed back in 2010 that “there is no illegal element. It’s a free bet and you can do what you like.”
At the heart of it, it’s just the clever exploitation of a loophole in a vast, complicated market in order to hedge one’s bets – an art–form that goes back thousands of years. While our parents were only too happy to repeat that “money doesn’t come for free”, they may have forgotten to add that when it does come for free, one would be foolish not to make the most of it.
At the very worst, this form of backing and laying certain odds on different websites can be considered to be ‘bonus abuse’, a term used by certain bookmakers in their terms and conditions.
Even then, the worst that can happen is that a player can have their account “gubbed”, which prevents it from receiving future free offers.
But it is not illegal. Rather than asking ourselves whether matched betting is legal, then, we should be asking why it shouldn’t be so. After all, it’s not as if it’s preventing the gambling industry from making money, anyway.
The original point of those free bonuses is to lure people into a world where the odds will, in the long term, favour the house, not the player. It requires not to fall into the tap of gambling and lose a hefty chunk.
One well-known lover of matched betting recently wrote about losing £1500 in a single afternoon, simply because he tried his hand at gambling on the in-play tennis market. It was the price he paid for not laying against the bet he’d made on a sure thing – who promptly went on to lose!
Matched betting is an attempt at playing the system – but this doesn’t mean the system can’t gain anything from it. Remember, a matched bet necessarily involves a losing bet – and that can be on any sportsbook. The market tends to react very quickly to trends anyway.
Even then, matched betting could be a long-term boon for the betting market, shortening normally long odds and making sure losers look like sure things.