There are two main advantages of the arbitrage betting strategy. The first is simply the very fact that it is possible to create situations where you are guaranteed to make a profit on a sporting event regardless of the outcome. It could be argued that this is not even gambling, as there is no risk involved once you have created such a situation.
The second advantage is that it’s not really a difficult strategy to implement. Once you understand the basic principle of how it works, and the calculations involved, it is relatively easy to take advantage of any arbs that you manage to find.
However, this strategy is not without its disadvantages. It might be relatively easy to take advantage of arbs once you find them, but finding them is not actually that easy at all. There are lots of bettors out there looking for them, and they don’t last forever. You need to be quick to spot them, and quick to act. To make consistent and meaningful profits from arbitrage betting you will almost certainly need to invest a lot of time just constantly searching through the betting markets.
You also need to invest a lot of money too. Most arbs offer a potential return of between 1% and 3% of the total amount staked, and this means you need a large bankroll to make any real money.
Let’s assume you were able to find two good arbs a day on average, each with a return of 2%. You’d probably need to be betting full time to achieve this, and you’d need to bet a total of $5,000 on an arb to make $100 from it. That’s $10,000 across the two opportunities, and you’d want a bankroll of at least twice that amount. You’d be making $200 a day, but you’d need a minimum bankroll of $20,000.
That’s a sizable sum of money, and realistically you’d need even more than that. Another downside of arbitrage betting is that you need to have accounts with a lot of different bookmakers, and you need those accounts funded so that you can place a bet quickly when a particular bookmaker has the right odds that you need.
WarningArbitrage betting is NOT a completely risk free strategy!
It’s also important to note that there are some risks involved in arbitrage betting. There is no risk once you have placed the required bets, assuming you’ve done things properly, but that doesn’t mean the strategy itself is entirely without risk. There are several things that can go wrong, including the following.
Change in odds
Taking advantage of an arb requires placing at least two bets at different bookmakers, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to place multiple bets simultaneously. There is always a chance that the odds will change after you’ve placed your first bet and before you’ve placed any subsequent bets, and this can result in an arb effectively disappearing. This means you have to either let the first bet run and take the associated risk with that, or place the subsequent bets anyway and make a small guaranteed loss.
You have to move quickly when arbitrage betting, and this can lead to making mistakes. It’s quite possible to make an error when carrying out the necessary calculations, or even when placing the required bets. These kinds of mistakes can prove to be quite costly.
Account limiting or closure
Most bookmakers do not like arbers, and if they suspect you of being one they may well limit your account or even close it. With a limited account you may not be able to stake the full amount you need to make an arb work, and with a closed account you won’t be able to bet with that bookmaker at all. This can severely affect your opportunities for arbing.
In some circumstances bookmakers can cancel bets once they have been struck, and this can be disastrous for you when arbing. You’ll get your stake back for the cancelled bet, but if you’ve already placed other bets to take advantage of an arb then you will be exposed to some risk of them losing without having the other outcome(s) covered. You may be able to place the cancelled bet again with another bookmaker, but you may not get the required odds to recreate the arb.
There is no doubt at all that arbitrage betting can be a profitable sports betting strategy. It is not, however, one that we can wholeheartedly recommend to everyone. The bankroll requirements are high and so are the time requirements, and you will be competing against a lot of well-organized betting syndicates looking for the same opportunities as you.
We absolutely wouldn’t talk you out of using this strategy, and if you happen to come across an arbitrage opportunity then you should always try to take advantage of it. For most bettors, though, we would suggest that it’s not worth spending too much time actively looking for arbs. The same time could be better spent on learning and developing other strategies that may be more profitable in the long run.