What is Arbitrage Betting? Complete Arbitrage Betting Guide 2023
Many bettors wonder if there’s a surefire way to make money through sports gambling. Arbitrage betting can provide this opportunity, but it has complexities to it. If you’re interested in using arbitrage betting (aka “arbing”) to win, then you’ll find our guide helpful. This page covers the basics of arbitraging, arbing with bonuses, pros and cons, and tips for success.
You’ll also learn about the best online sportsbooks for arbitrage wagering. The betting sites discussed here hold offshore licenses, making them legal and safe to use in all states and countries. Our BasketballInsiders team recommends these sportsbooks because they’re safe and trustworthy.
What is Arbitrage Betting?
Most betting sites release similar odds on games and move lines in near unison. Therefore, you usually can’t guarantee profits by betting on the favorite and underdog at different offshore sportsbooks.
But bookmakers are occasionally so distant from each other on odds that they incidentally create profitable opportunities. This situation often happens when most sportsbooks move a line, but one or more are slow to react. Arbitrage betting involves spotting these favorable scenarios and taking advantage. Here’s an example on guaranteeing winnings through arbitrage sports betting:
- You have $100 in total to wager on Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets.
- BetOnline: Buffalo Bills -225 – You bet $70.29 on the Bills.
- Bovada: New York Jets +250 – You wager $29.21 on the Jets.
- Total payout for either side winning = $102.22
- $102.22 – $100 stake = $2.22 profit (or 2.22% ROI)
The winning side (Bills or Jets) doesn’t matter because you’ll win $102.22 regardless of the outcome. This example represents the premise of arbing, which is to guarantee yourself profits.
Of course, you may be wondering how to determine bet sizes and find winning opportunities. We’ll discuss the how in the following section, including using an arbitrage betting calculator and other relevant tools.
How Does Arbitrage Betting Work?
With more bettors looking to predict sports results in order of making a profit on the rise, it’s no surprise to learn that the North America sports betting market is expected to gain market growth in the forecast period of 2023 to 2030.
However, for those not keen on predicting the outcome, but more interested in taking a profit regardless, then arbitrage betting could be of interest.
The key to successful arbitrage sports betting is finding favorable price discrepancies at different betting sites. You wager on the favorite at one sportsbook and bet the underdog at the other relevant betting site. You’ll have to place the bets quickly as well because bookmakers move fast to eliminate arb opportunities. It’s beneficial to have multiple online sportsbook accounts with funds ready to make the process quicker.
This concept sounds easy enough, but there are two major questions:
- How do you know how much to bet on each side?
- How can you find arbitrage situations in time?
Beginning with the first question, an arbitrage betting calculator shows you what to wager based on your available funds. You use this tool by entering the odds on each side and your total stake. After doing so, the arbitrage betting calculator will reveal:
- If the opportunity is actually profitable.
- The amount to wager on each side.
Let’s say, for example, that you can afford to risk $200 total on -150 and +190 odds. The arbitrage calculator shows that you should wager $127 on the -150 outcome and $73 on the +190 side. The end result is a $211.71 payout and $11.71 profit (5.85% ROI).
As for finding arbitrage betting opportunities in time, plenty of software programs offer this service. They scour the online sports betting industry for potential arb bets in a given market. For example, you might use such software to find NHL betting arbs.
Is it possible to find sports arbitrage betting situations without software? Theoretically yes, but the chances of doing so and placing relevant wagers in time are extremely low. We don’t recommend spending much time manually seeking arbs at online sportsbooks.
What Are the Advantages of Arbitrage Betting?
Arbing offers multiple benefits over placing sports bets under a normal handicapping strategy. You can see the main pros to using this strategy below.
Arbs Deliver Guaranteed Winnings when Done Right
Nothing is a sure thing in sports betting…that is, unless you jump on the right arbitrage opportunity. The examples provided so far show that the correct approach yields guaranteed profits. You just need to make both bets in time at different sportsbooks to win.
Win Without Being a Professional Sports Bettor
The world’s best sports bettors like Billy Walters have dedicated countless hours to the craft. Luckily, you don’t need to be one of the world’s best—or even remotely skilled—to win with arbitrage betting. The only talent you need involves finding arbs and placing the correct bets and stakes.
Plenty of Chances to Make Money
Again, betting sites are typically close to each other when releasing and moving lines. But you’ll find sports betting arbitrage opportunities with enough effort. You’ll especially have a better chance when using the right tools like an arbitrage betting calculator.
Can I Use Betting Bonuses For Arbitrage Betting?
Online sports betting bonuses provide the least risky paths to making money through arbitrage wagering. You’ll be using house money to earn profits under the right circumstances. But just like arbing itself, you do need some skill to profit off bonus funds. The following strategies are the possible ways to successfully arbitrage with bonuses.
Many betting sites give free bets as bonuses to new and/or existing customers. One catch with most of these offers, though, is that they don’t pay the stake back—just the winnings. Therefore, you need to use a modified sports betting arbitrage strategy in this case.
Enter matched betting, which involves placing a free bet and regular wager at big disparities. You begin by finding a two-way betting opportunity (vs. three way) with a massive favorite and underdog.
You’ll place the free wager on the underdog at one sportsbook. Meanwhile, you’ll make a regular bet on the heavy favorite at another betting site. You also want to use an arbitrage calculator to determine the correct bet sizes. Let’s set up an example on how this works:
- You have a $30 free bet.
- You’re eyeing a college football matchup between Wisconsin and Georgia Southern.
- Georgia Southern has +900 odds at the sportsbook with a $30 free bet.
- The best Wisconsin odds at another betting site are -950.
This situation isn’t enough to successfully arbitrage under normal circumstances. But you can arb after adding the free bet into the equation. Here’s how the above scenario plays out:
- You place the $30 free wager on Georgia Southern at +900 (wins $270 if successful).
- You enter the variables into an arbitrage free bet calculator (different from regular arb calculator).
- $30 free bet; +900 free bet line; -950 regular wager odds = $244.29 regular wager
- A $30 free bet at +900 odds and a $244.29 hedge at -950 odds = $25.71 profit
You’ll almost always need to place a regular bet to initially score a free wager. Once you have the bonus, though, you can use the above advice and a free bet calculator to ensure profits.
A risk-free bet is essentially insurance on your first wager at a new online sportsbook. If you lose the initial wager, you’ll receive a matching refund that consists of free bets.
This bonus presents another situation where you must place a wager before using an arbitrage plan. Furthermore, you won’t get any bonus bets unless you lose. Provided you do lose, though, you’ll be able to use the same matched betting strategy described above with the refund.
This promotion matches your first deposit up to a certain amount. For example, BetOnline matches your initial crypto deposit by 100% up to $1,000. You must then meet the 14x rollover at BetOnline before cashing out the bonus funds.
You can start arbitrage betting immediately with this bonus after making your first deposit. After all, you don’t need to place a first bet to qualify for deposit bonuses like with free and risk-free bets. The difficult part, though, is meeting rollover before your bonus funds expire. Betting sites typically give you between 7 and 90 days to satisfy the rollover requirement.
You may have trouble finding enough arbitrage opportunities before the expiration date. In such cases, you’ll need to mix regular bets with arbs to thoroughly use the bonus.
Is Arbitrage Sports Betting A Worthwhile Strategy?
Arbitrage wagering is an attractive prospect due to how it can guarantee profits. The key word here is “can,” though, because it’s not a foolproof strategy. You’ll want to consider the pros and cons to decide if hunting for arbs is worthwhile.
- Strategy that works: Plenty of sports betting strategies exist, such as the Martingale and Labouchere. But the problem is that hardly any of these betting systems work. Arbitrage is one of the few strategies that brings you profits when done right.
- No handicapping necessary: Expert handicapping involves pouring over stats, recognizing trends, and understanding the teams and players. You may even need years of seasoning before winning more consistently. With arbs, though, you just have to know how to spot the right opportunities in time.
- Instills discipline: One of the biggest problems that losing sports bettors run into is a lack of discipline. They place wagers based on feeling, don’t put much work into the matter, and chase losses. Arbitrage wagering helps with discipline because it requires patience and diligence in finding the right lines.
- Can guarantee bonus winnings: Claiming bonuses via sports betting codes is a good approach, but they don’t normally guarantee winnings. With the right arb approach (e.g., match betting), though, you can ensure profits from deposit bonuses and free bets.
- Low risk involved: It is possible to lose money when arbitraging (explained later). But even in these situations, your losses won’t be that great as long as you complete the arb attempt.
- Small profits: As our previous examples show, arbitrage gambling doesn’t provide a significant ROI. You’re normally looking at between a 1% and 5% ROI in most cases.
- Requires a large bankroll: The problem above bleeds into the second drawback, which is the need for a big bankroll. You’ll have to place larger bets to win any serious money from arbitraging.
- Time consuming: Online sportsbooks make a collective effort to avoid leaving arbitrage opportunities. Even with software, you must put time into finding legitimate arbs.
- Limited liquidity: The markets you choose will have an impact on the number of available arbitrages. For example, you won’t find many chances to use this strategy in volleyball betting.
- Getting limited or banned: Betting sites don’t appreciate gamblers exploiting loopholes for profits, which is essentially the basis behind arbitrage wagering. They use advanced software to spot potential arb bettors and either limit or ban their accounts. The limits entail reduced maximum bets, such as going from a $2,500 to $100 max.
Are there Risks with Sports Arbitrage Betting?
So far, arbitrage wagering seems like the perfect method for making sports betting profits. It’s not entirely risk free, though, because you can still lose money when lines shift.
Again, online sportsbooks try to move their betting lines along with other bookmakers. If market leaders shift a moneyline from -175 to -225, for example, you’ll see other betting sites do the same. Any stragglers that don’t move their lines in harmony create the potential for arbs. This point is when you want to jump on opportunities and lock in profits.
Unfortunately, the stragglers can still change their odds while you’re locking in an arb. You might get a bet down at one sportsbook, only for the line to move at the other. This scenario could very well eliminate the guaranteed profits and leave you relying on luck to win the initial bet.
Another risk with arbitrage betting is that sportsbooks have different rules for settling bets under specific situations. For example, one betting site might settle a baseball bet if a game is postponed after seven innings. Another sportsbook may simply cancel the wager because the game didn’t officially conclude. You’ll miss out on a successful arb and possibly lose one bet under these situations.
As discussed before, online sportsbooks may limit or ban your account for arbing. Betting sites use advanced software to detect potential arb gamblers. If they suspect that you’re among this group, you’ll have your max bet reduced or even get banned.
Hedging vs. Trading vs. Arbitrage Betting
Arbitrage sports betting bears similarities to other strategies like hedging and trading. Each of these strategies have their differences too, which you can read about below.
Hedging involves placing a bet and, later, making another wager against yourself to reduce risk or guarantee profits. Let’s start with an example when is comes to using an NBA strategy on hedging to lower risk risk:
- You bet $100 on the Los Angeles Lakers (-220) to beat the Denver Nuggets.
- The Lakers are down by 10 points entering the fourth quarter, and you don’t think they’ll come back.
- The Nuggets’ odds are up to -500 at this point, and you bet $100 on them.
Denver goes on to win.
- $100 win (Nuggets) – $100 loss (Lakers) = Break even
An even more exciting prospect is when you can use hedge bets to ensure winnings. The following example shows when this is possible:
- You place an early $100 futures bet on the New York Yankees (+600) winning the AL.
- With 15 games to go, the Yankees are in first place by three games.
- The Houston Astros are the only team with a realistic chance to catch New York.
- They’re currently sitting with +400 odds of winning the AL.
- You place a $100 bet on Houston finishing in first.
- If New York wins, $600 win – $200 loss (original bet + Astros wager) = $400 profit.
- If Houston wins, $400 win – $200 loss (Astros bet + original wager) = $200 profit.
To recap, hedging can either help you reduce losses, break even, or make profits. The hedge bets are also spaced out across some time, whether it be a day, week, or months. By comparison, arbitrage revolves around chasing profits, with bets typically occurring within minutes of each other.
Sports betting trading involves trying to predict which way odds will go. The idea is to get ahead of bookmakers moving lines and lock in good prices, thus ensuring winnings. After all, betting sites commonly change odds based on weather, injuries, lineup changes, and more.
Trading is especially useful in live betting, where odds can shift in an instant. You can predict how a game will go beforehand, then go for any line shifts in your favor. Here’s an example:
- You’re following a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and LA Chargers.
- Kansas City scores the first touchdown.
- LA’s odds go from +200 to +300, and you bet $100 on them ($100 to win $300).
- The Chargers come back and score a TD, tying the game at 7-7.
- KC’s odds go from -250 to -175, and you wager $200 on them ($200 to win $115).
- If the Chargers win: $300 win – $200 loss = $100 profit
- If the Chiefs win: $115 win – $100 loss = $15 profit
The key here is that you’re trading for better prices based on predictions. You can watch games, determine which way the momentum is going, then place informed predictive wagers. In some cases, like with our example, you may even hedge yourself into a profit through trading.
Arbitraging involves placing two bets at different sportsbooks on the same contest. The goal is to find a wide enough disparity between outcomes to guarantee a profit. If you can’t ensure a win, then you don’t want to attempt an arb.
Compare this to hedging, where you place an original bet with no predetermined plan to make another. You only hedge when a second bet becomes a wise idea—whether it locks in profits or minimizes losses.
As for arbitrage vs. trading, the latter features more time in between the first and second bets. Trading involves waiting for the right price, then looking for a good price later on the opposite side. It also includes more of a predictive element, where you guess which way the game will go when wagering. You might even place more than two wagers depending upon what live betting opportunities arise.
Best Sports for Arbitrage Betting
Not all sports are equal when it comes to arbitrage wagering. Some markets stand above others regarding liquidity, live wagering options, and odds disparities. You can see our picks on the best arbitrage betting sports below.
Many of our recommended offshore betting sites place a heavy emphasis on American bettors. Meanwhile, the NFL is the most popular sports league in the US. Put two and two together, and you have the most liquid sport for arbs. NFL betting sites especially create plenty of tempting arb prospects in their live wagering sections.
Keeping with the football theme, the college game has a nice combination of liquidity and odds disparities. Early lines involving matchups like Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. Oklahoma State can be all over the place. You’ll typically find at least one good weekly arb in the early season, when many non-conference games happen.
The other football may not be as popular in the US, but it has an estimated 5 billion fans worldwide. International-focused sportsbooks like BC.Game make for good soccer arbitrage hunting grounds. With so many leagues and games around the world, soccer is always good for an arb or two.
The NBA is another popular American sports league, and it holds more international appeal than the NFL. Like college football, it combines good liquidity with wide-ranging odds. Bookmakers aren’t always the sharpest on, say, mid-January games between the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets.
NCAA basketball is much like its college football counterpart with regard to odds disparities. Good college basketball teams play bad teams quite often in their non-conference schedules. For example, betting sites could differ greatly from each other on Fayetteville State vs Duke odds.
Tips for Arbitrage Bets
You can see that sports arbitrage betting can be an effective strategy. But how do you consistently find chances to win money? The following tips for arbitrage betting will help you in this pursuit.
1. Have Multiple Accounts Ready
The last thing you want to do is spot an arb, then go through a signup and deposit process. Your opportunity will likely come and go by the time you hit the deposit button. You want to prepare ahead of time by opening and funding multiple accounts at top betting sites.
2. Take It Slow
Don’t expect to find arbs left and right because bookies are good at stamping out opportunities. Additionally, you shouldn’t be in a rush to place bets until you’re completely confident. This style of betting is all about timing and research, which takes time to master.
3. Use Software
Software programs can scan the industry for potential arbs and make them available to you immediately. They’re much more efficient than sitting around all day monitoring multiple online sportsbooks. You merely need to understand using a relevant program to take advantage.
4. Focus on Two-Way Bets
As an arber, you want to stick with two-way wagers because they only have two possible outcomes. A three-way bet (e.g., soccer win/loss/draw) leaves an uncertain third outcome that could ruin your arb.
5. Double Check Your Math
An arbitrage calculator will help you work out the math on what are and aren’t profitable bets. However, you still want to re-check the odds you’ve entered to ensure profits.
Best Arbitrage Betting Sites
If looking to get involved with arbing, then the best online sportsbooks will offer some opportunities throughout their range of markets. Here are our favorites.
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How to Sign Up to a Sports Betting Arbitrage Site
Arbing might require some work, but signing up at one or more online sportsbooks doesn’t. You can see the simple steps to registering at sports arbitrage betting sites below.
Step 1 – Pick a Sportsbook
The first step may seem the hardest—choosing reputable and worthwhile mobile sportsbooks. But we’ve made this task easier by recommending 5 top betting sites based on our research. All steps covered here revolve around our No. 1 choice BetOnline.
Step 2 – Create an Account
You can hit the Join button on a sportsbook’s homepage to begin the registration process. You’ll then fill in all required blanks and submit your account for (instant) approval.
Step 3 – Make a Deposit
Once registered, you can choose a deposit option and fund your account. All of our top 5 betting sites accept crypto, while most take credit cards too.
Step 4 – Look for Arbs
After signing up with at least two online sportsbooks, you’re ready to begin looking for potential arbitrage bets. Please use our tips in this guide when seeking profitable opportunities.
Conclusion: Best Site For Arbitrage Betting?
Arbitrage wagering is one of the best ways to earn money in online sports betting. And BetOnline is our top pick for making this type of gambling work in your favor. Again, it releases some of the quickest odds in the business. You can use BetOnline as your first reference for arb betting, before checking out later line releases at other sportsbooks.
This betting site has plenty of sports and wager types as well. It covers 20+ sports and offers every bet from moneylines to same game parlays. One more added perk is the BetOnline payment methods, which include 16 cryptocurrencies and several credit cards.
Is betting arbitrage legal?
Yes, arbitrage betting is legal because it’s a skill—not cheating. You won’t break laws in any jurisdiction by using a sports betting arbitrage strategy. However, online sportsbooks have the right to refuse service to any bettor. They limit or ban any bettors whom they believe are skilled arb gamblers.
How does an arbitrage bet work?
Arbitrage gambling involves placing two bets on opposite outcomes at different betting sites. The goal is to ensure a profit by finding the right odds disparities. We suggest using software to find arbs and a calculator to make sure the math is correct.
What is an example of arbitrage betting?
Let’s say that the Alabama Crimson Tide and Arkansas Razorbacks are playing. You can lock in profits by finding -225 Alabama odds at one sportsbook and +250 Arkansas odds at another. By using an arbitrage calculator, you’d find that $100 on Arkansas and $242.31 on Bama would guarantee $7.69 in profit.
Do I win more with an arbitrage bet?
The amount that you win with arbitrage bets depends upon your skill and diligence. Tools like an arb calculator and software will improve your chances of making money. The time that you put into mastering this strategy also plays a big part in potential winnings.
Which sports are good for arbitrage betting?
You want a mixture of liquidity and wide odds disparities when choosing the best arbitrage sports. College football and college basketball are both great sports for arbitrage gambling because they have uneven matchups. Betting sites are all over the place on their odds with some games. Leagues like the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB are excellent for liquidity purposes.
Jeremy Olson has been writing about online gambling since 2006. He started out covering online poker and eventually transitioned to casino games and sports betting.Recent Posts
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