Arbitrage Betting Guide

Written by: Alex Windsor
Fact checked by Brian Webb  
Updated: June 13, 2024

Arbitrage betting is a unique type of betting that guarantees profit. Of course, such a claim might seem outrageous, but by betting on both sides of a result with favourable odds and with the right bookies, it is occasionally possible to guarantee yourself a profit — albeit usually a small one. Though as you can probably guess, finding these spots can be tricky.

That’s why in this guide we’ll be giving you a comprehensive breakdown of arbitrage betting including exactly how it works, how you can find arbitrage betting situations — and we’ll even give you a cool trick newcomers can use to make just every bet an arbitrage betting opportunity.

Make sure to bookmark this page. Because later on in this guide, we’ll be giving you a free arbitrage betting calculator that you can use on any stake to see if there’s potential for an arbitrage bet — and exactly how much you should optimally stake.

What is Arbitrage Betting?

In theory, arbitrage betting is simple. You find a sporting event that you want to bet on — and then you find at least two bookies that are offering odds that are so different from one another that by placing correct bets, you are guaranteed to profit regardless of how the event actually ends. As a general rule, arbitrage works best on sporting events that only have two possible outcomes.

Team A vs Team B

However, it is possible to practise arbitrage on events with multiple available outcomes.

Though with that being said, the margins are usually extremely thin with arbitrage betting as it is — and the more outcomes you have to spread your bankroll over means less money per individual stake, and a smaller eventual win. For that reason, when looking for arbitrage betting opportunities we recommend sticking with sports that only have two teams or competitors.

One thing to keep in mind though is that since arbitrage betting guarantees a profit, bookies don’t like when you use it. That’s not to say it’s illegal. But if you’re familiar with card counting, then you can think of arbitrage betting as the bookmaker equivalent.

Types of Arbitrage Betting

Generally speaking, there’s only one type of arbitrage betting. And that is the standard arbitrage betting which we’ve already mentioned — however if you’re new to sports betting, or even just new to a couple of bookies there’s another type of arbitrage betting that you can use. Below, we’ll be discussing both sorts.

Standard Arbitrage Betting

Standard arbitrage betting (sometimes known as odds arbitrage) is the most well-known type of arbitrage betting. With this type of bet, you pick a sporting event in which at least two bookmakers have significantly different odds, and then you calculate how much you should bet on both of these sites to guarantee the most profit. Standard arbitrage betting can be pretty tricky.  And the maths behind it can be an absolute nightmare for anyone new to arbitrage betting — especially if you’re not a maths whiz.

Though don’t worry. Because at the bottom of this guide you’ll be able to find our free to use arbitrage betting calculator where all you need to do is enter in the odds for both sides of your bet as well as how much you wish to stake. The calculator will then do all the hard work for you and will give you the optimal amount to bet on both sides as well as what your ROI will be.

Arbitrage Betting with Bonuses

Spots for standard arbitrage betting are few and far between. But if you’re new to UK arbitrage betting, then there’s a much simpler way to get started by taking advantage of the various bonuses on offer to new users. That’s because when you sign up to a new bookie through our links, you’ll get a welcome bonus.

Betfred Free Bets

Exactly what these bonuses will be will vary from site to site. However, they’ll all give you more bang for your buck on your first deposit.

To take an example with the Betfred free bets bonus, when you make your first bet of £10, you’ll receive a series of 5 free £10 bets. You can then take one of these free bets to use on one side of a stake before heading over to a different bookie to bet the other side either with another bonus or with your own cash. Assuming that both sides are even paying out at 2.0 odds, that means you’ll be guaranteed to win £20 by only staking a total of £10 in real cash.

As such, if you’re new to sports betting in the UK, this is pretty much a surefire way to win some easy money with arbitrage betting and give your initial bankroll a healthy boost.

How to Find an Arbitrage Betting Situation

The biggest difficulty that you’ll face with arbitrage betting is simply finding the right spots. Bookies are well aware that arbitrage betting exists. As such, they go to great lengths to make sure that such opportunities don’t present themselves often — and almost never on major sporting events. Despite this though, it is still possible to find these spots. And generally speaking, there are two main ways to find a viable arbitrage bet.

Manual Arbitrage Betting

Manual arbitrage betting is exactly what it sounds like. You find an event that you want to bet on, and then you take notes of the odds offered by various bookmakers. Once you’ve found the pair of bookies that offer the best odds on both sides of a bet, you can then head back to this page and use our arbitrage betting calculator to see if it is indeed an arbitrage betting situation, and how much you should bet on both sides.

In some ways, this is the simplest form of arbitrage betting. That’s because you don’t have to subscribe to any costly services, and all you need is time and patience. But that’s also where the downside comes in. Since arbitrage betting opportunities are rare, they are very difficult to find, and there’s no guarantee that even after investing a couple of hours into researching that you’ll be able to find one.

Whether or not the time investment will be worth it is up to you. However, as a little bonus tip — if you do decide to search for arbitrage opportunities in this way it’ll generally be better for you to focus on an unpopular market and some of the lesser-known sporting events.

If this method proves too time-consuming, the next one will be for you.

Using Software

In the age of AI and automation, it really should be no surprise that there is a variety of software and sites that offer to do the research for you, and instead only show exactly which events are available and with which bookies. This is how most pro arbitrage bettors bet. But it does come with a downside, and that is that these software and sites do not offer their services for free and you’ll usually need to pay for some sort of subscription service.

This software can be expensive for some players. As such, whether or not it will be worth it for you will depend on your own financial state and how much you can afford to invest into your arbitrage betting bankroll.

Though with that being said, most serious arbitrage bettors including myself use software. I have gone the manual route before — and in truth the satisfaction of getting it right is amazing; however, for most people manually searching for arbitrage just takes too long, and the investment into software is well worth it.

Arbitrage Betting Examples

Arbitrage bets are rarely found on the moneyline and almost never in major sporting events. As such, an arbitrage bet can look quite different to the sorts of bets you’d usually make. For an example of how a real arbitrage bet looks, I’ll give you an example of a bet I made way back in 2019 when I had just gotten started with arbitrage betting and was searching for opportunities manually.

This bet was made in the Japanese football J2 League in week 13 between FC Gifu and Kanazawa. The moneylines were all solid this week without any guaranteed profit to be made — however, in this game one bookie was offering a bet where the total number of goals scored in the 2nd half would be over 3.5 for odds of 3.21, while another bookie had the odds for under 3.5 goals being scored in the second half at 1.54. And while I’m no maths genius, these odds looked good to me and so I put it into a calculator along with my stake. In the below table, you’ll be able to see what it showed.

OutcomeStake BreakdownPotential winnings
Over 3.5 goals: 3.21 on Bookie A£259.37£832.57
Under 3.5 goals 1.54 on Bookie B£540.63£832.57

On a total stake of £800, I was guaranteed to make £32.57 in profit with a 4.07% ROI. As a result, it didn’t matter whether FC Gifu or Kanazawa won — nor did it really matter how many goals ended up being scored in the second half. Because the second I placed the bet, I was a winner. And once full time was over and it was confirmed that 4 goals got scored in the second half, Bookie A paid me out my £832.57 in winnings.

Pros & Cons of Arbitrage Betting

As a whole, arbitrage betting is one of the most popular forms of betting for winning sports bettors. Though that’s not to say it’s without its downsides. And in the below table, we’ll be going over both the good and the bad when it comes to arbitrage betting.

ProsCons
Profits are guaranteedProfits per bet are usually small
Don’t need any knowledge of the sport or event that you are betting onSoftware can be expensive
Can be used with bonuses to multiply your winningsBookies may impose limits on your account if they suspect you are arbitrage betting
With software and betting calculators, it’s very easy to doTons of research required if you don’t use software
With big enough bankroll, monthly profits can be huge
Not at the mercy of luck and variance

As you can see, arbitrage betting is by no means perfect. However, if you’ve got the bankroll and patience to make it work, then it can be a no-brainer — giving you guaranteed (albeit slim) profits on every bet that you’ll make. And even better, if you’re new to sports betting you can use welcome bonuses to boost your profits even more, giving your bankroll a healthy cash injection.

Enjoyed this guide? Why not have a read of our other handy betting guides and see what other tricks and tips you can pick up.

FAQs

  • Arbitrage betting is 100% legal in the UK so long as you bet with a licensed bookmaker. With that being said, while you are legally allowed to use arbitrage betting — bookies don’t like it when you do, and if they suspect that you are doing so they may limit or even suspend your account.
  • Does arbitrage betting work?
    Arbitrage betting 100% works. While opportunities for arbitrage betting can be rare, when an opportunity does present itself — it guarantees a profit.
  • If arbitrage betting is so good, why don’t more players use it?
    While arbitrage betting does work, legitimate spots are few and far between. As a result, many recreational bettors are simply under the impression that the time it would take to find such opportunities would not justify the profit. Further, with profits being slim and software sometimes being pricey, the barrier can be a little too steep for some.
  • How hard is arbitrage betting without using software?
    While not impossible, arbitrage betting without using software is time-consuming. You’ll need to scan through dozens of betting markets for hundreds of events on a variety of sites just for the chance to find one potential opportunity. As a result, unless you have a lot of free time, you’ll probably be better off using software — or by arbitrage betting with the help of bonuses.
  • How much money can you make with arbitrage betting?
    How much money you can make with arbitrage betting is directly affected by how much money you have spare to invest into arbitrage betting. However, there are heaps of reports from successful bettors that arbitrage betting can net a monthly profit of £10,000+.
  • Will my account get banned if I use arbitrage betting?

    Per the terms & conditions of most bookies, arbitrage betting can get you into a bit of trouble. Although in my experience, your account getting banned for arbitrage betting is very unlikely — and what’s much more likely to happen is that your account will get limited. The good news is though, even if this does happen, you’ll still be able to withdraw all the money you’ve won.

Alex, a ten-year iGaming industry veteran and Managing Editor at BettingTools specializes in sports betting and betting tools. He also provides insightful reviews, ensures the accuracy of all offers, and maintains content quality helping you make informed choices. Combining professional expertise with a passion for football and soccer, Alex ensures we offer you a reliable resource, focusing on betting tools to assist with odds, parlays, and other betting strategies.