Updated: Mar 28, 2021
Even if you don’t have a lot of knowledge about Eurovision or any particular event you can still win money betting on it using a technique called matched betting. More specifically here we are talking about arbitrage (or arbing), which is a type of matched betting that uses the value of the odds, and does not require the use of promotions. If you have a more cautious approach to betting then this is probably the best starting approach for you. In this article I'll introduce the concept of arbitrage, highlight pitfalls to avoid, and point you to where to get started.
What is Arbitrage?
Arbitrage is when the odds for an outcome on a bookmaker site are higher than the lay odds on an exchange site. In these scenarios you can make 'guaranteed' profit by betting on the outcome at the bookmaker, and laying the outcome on the exchange (see our glossary for an explanation of lay betting). This process is part of a technique called matched betting, and is widely practiced in sports betting. You can find more detail on how it works here and here.
The significant movements in the betting odds throughout the Eurovision season often lead to scenarios where the odds between the bookmakers and the exchanges are misaligned, and it can be a fruitful exercise to take advantage of these scenarios using matched betting.
What are the risks?
The profit from arbitrage is theoretically guaranteed, but there are a few situations to watch out for that can trip you up in practice. These are:
The exchange site will likely charge you 'commission' on your winnings. On Betfair this is typically 5% of the profit that you make, and should be factored into your matched betting calculation.
The markets may have slightly different rules between websites. This is rarely an issue, but you should check the rules of the market to ensure that there are not scenarios where you may be liable for one bet, but not win the other.
The bookmaker odds may be considered an 'obvious error'. This means that they can cancel or change the odds of your bet leaving you liable for the lay. This scenario is very rare, but if the odds are wildly different to your expectations then it could be the case.
You will still need the capital to cover the liability of both bets. As the bets will be on separate websites you will need to deposit the required funds on each site, though once both the bets are settled you can expect to be in net profit.
How can I get started?
There are websites that specialise in how to make the most out of matched betting. The two most comprehensive and popular, with the best tools, tips, and community are Profit Accumulator and Oddsmonkey. These are subscription based, but you can sign up for a free trial to see which works for you before deciding to commit.
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