Arbitrage Betting –  How It Works & Arbitrage Betting Explained

This arbitrage betting guide uncovers everything, from how it works, examples, pros and cons, legality, and some tips on how to make the most of your arb betting. If you are new to arbitrage sports betting and want to learn how to arbitrage bet, then read on. We’ll kick things off by addressing the fundamentals, and then head into some example arb bets to explain the mechanics.

What is Arbitrage Betting?

‘Arbing’, as it’s known, is a trading method that guarantees a profit, regardless of the outcome of the game or event, by taking advantage of price discrepancies within markets. It’s a method you can use on all of the best online sportsbooks and typically yields small returns but the element of risk is completely avoided. Arb betting appeals to risk-averse gamblers who are happy to make small but steady gains.

How Does Arbitrage Betting Work?

Opportunities to arb can be hard to find, but they exist every day. Ideally, you must have access to an odds comparison site, as this will enable you to scan sportsbook odds much more effectively.

A successful arb bet requires you to find two sides of the same bet that combine to make more than 100% of your total stake on both bets. If one side of a wager, for example, the ‘under’ is 2.0, then the ‘over’ side must be bigger than 2.0 if you are going to arb. Fluid markets, where odds are changing consistently, can provide the perfect arbitrage opportunity.

It’s often easier to eke out an arbing opportunity if you have access to a betting exchange, where markets have the lowest house edge. Typically, each side of the bet will be placed with a different sportsbook, making it important to have multiple accounts.

Examples of Arbitrage Betting and Arbitrage Bets

Arbitrage in sports betting can be quite complicated to understand, especially for rookie gamblers, so some examples will be a big help. Let’s look at three different types of arbitrage betting examples.

Total Points Movement

Let’s say that the starting market for total points in a game between the Dolphins and the Falcons is set at -110 for Over 32 points and +110 for Under 32 points.

In this scenario, the odds are factoring in that both teams have solid offensive units.

Let’s say you back the Under 32 points at +110 for $100 but some late team news sees an injury to the Dolphins quarterback meaning they are likely to score fewer points.

This late team news now sees the Over 32 points drifting to +105 while the Under 32 points are now cut into -110 because it is likely we’ll see fewer points with one team weakened offensively.

You can now bet on the Over 32 Points for $100 at +105.

This now means you hold two bets.

1. $100 at +110 for Under 32 points to return $210
2. $100 at +105 for Over 32 points to return $205

You are betting $200 in total and are now guaranteed a minimum profit of $5 whatever the result.

If you are a fan of NFL betting, then one of the sportsbooks you may want to check out for the best odds is BetWhale.

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In-Game Opportunities

The fast-paced environment of live betting means that sportsbooks will often take slightly different views. Let’s say LA Galaxy go 1-0 up against New York City and their in-game price with one sportsbook is -300. However, another sportsbook has New York’s live odds as +650. This means, providing you are fast with your fingers, you can back both outcomes ($300 on LA Galaxy to win $100 and $50 on New Yor City to win $325). No matter who wins the game, you will have made a profit – $50 if it is Galaxy and $25 if it is New York.

The only variable is the draw, so you need to make sure you are betting with a sportsbook that gives a push on a drawn game.

Support for your horse – Back and Lay Arbitrage

If you are a horse racing betting fan, let’s say you fancy a horse at Churchill Downs at odds of +1000 (9/1) but you expect it to come in for strong support and the price drops to +600 (5/1)

Back And Lay Arbitrage

You back your horse for $60 at 9/1 which would give you a $540 profit if the horse wins and a $60 loss if it loses, quite simple to understand.

But the horse has now lowered in price nearer to the race, and its odds are now 5/1.

You can now lay this horse for $100 at odds of 5/1 meaning you have a potential loss of $500 if the horse wins, but you have already locked in a $540 profit on your initial bet so as you see from the image above, you are guaranteed a profit whether the horse wins or loses.

Arbitrage Betting Pros and Cons

So, does arbitrage betting work for everyone? That depends on what type of gambler you are. Here, we lay out the main pros and cons of arbitrage sports betting.

Pros:

  • Guaranteed profit – it’s the holy grail of betting
  • In-play betting has significantly increased the number of arbing opportunities
  • Using the ‘cashout’ feature means you don’t always have to use different sportsbooks

Cons:

  • Odds can change quickly, making your position vulnerable
  • Small margins mean you need to wager large sums
  • Sportsbooks can limit stakes at any time

Is Arbitrage Sports Betting Legal?

Arbitrage is a perfectly legal way to bet. However, sportsbooks, as a rule, are not keen on accommodating arbers. It isn’t always easy for them to spot an arber, especially one that regularly bets both sides with different sportsbooks.

However, if they believe you are an arber, you risk having your bets restricted. The key? Don’t make it obvious. If you are someone who regularly bets with a sportsbook that are best odds about a particular outcome, then you risk blowing your cover with the layers.

The Fundamentals of Arbitrage Betting

Sports arbitrage betting is popular because there are now so many different sportsbooks offering odds on every event. The more sportsbooks there are, the greater the opportunity for odds discrepancies; that is where arbers can get an angle against the sportsbook.

If you want to take arbitrage and betting seriously, you must have access to some sort of aggregator website that can make it easy for you to cross-reference odds from different sportsbooks.

You can also look at sourcing arbitrage software that can place your bets automatically following a set of parameters you place into the software.

Finding an arbitrage opportunity is one thing, but you must then be in a position to evaluate potential returns and then act on both sides of the wager with speed. This is especially the case if you are monitoring in-game markets because they can change so quickly or suspend in the blink of an eye. Arbing on live betting is not for the faint-hearted.

Start by betting on fixed odds markets first like over/under markets

Tips for Arbitrage Sports Betting

Here are five tips that we think are crucial if you are to make the most of arbitrage opportunities.

  • Make sure you have as many funded accounts as possible
  • Be set up to cross-reference odds speedily and accurately
  • Set aside large chunks of time to find arbitrage bets
  • Planning is key. Find yourself a niche area, such as a particular group of markets, because there are simply too many markets available nowadays for you to be able to keep on top of them all.
  • Consider using automation software. If you can create (or buy) a program that does the hard work for you, this is a game-changer.

Tips for Avoiding A Sportsbook Ban or Account Closure

One of the biggest hurdles you’ll face when arb betting is the risk of being banned by the sportsbooks. Here are three tips to stop you from being banned or having your accounts blocked.

  • Make sure not to place bets with odd numbers like $53.37 as a stake. This is a surefire way of showing the sportsbook you are arbing.
  • Instead of placing a $500 bet, break it down into 5 x $100 bets if possible. A sportsbook will flag players who play smaller stakes and then suddenly start betting in larger amounts.
  • Diversify your wagers. Don’t place bets with the same two sportsbooks regularly. Make sure to mix and match. Arbers should be using a minimum of 10 sportsbooks to help avoid detection of their arbitrage wagering.

Alternatives to Arbitrage Betting

While arbitrage is a sound betting system, especially when applied to sports betting, the small margins and long research periods mean it’s not for everyone. So, what alternatives exist for players who want to implement effective betting systems? Here are just three that might interest you:

Fibonacci System

Fibonacci System – The Fibonacci System is a ‘negative progression’ system based around a fixed sequence of numbers determining your stakes. It’s a system that works particularly well on casino games with a low house edge, particularly blackjack.

Paroli System

Paroli System – While Fibonacci might be a negative progression system where stakes are increased on the back of a loss, Paroli is much more aggressive. Stakes are doubled after each win until three successive winning wagers have landed.

Labouchere System

Labouchere System – The Labouchere System is much more complicated because it requires you to create your bespoke sequence of numbers that equate to your desired amount of profit. For example, in the 1-2-3 sequence (sum =$6, which is your desired amount of profit) your stake will always be the sum of the first and last numbers ($4).

Arbitrage Sportsbook Betting

As we mentioned above, sportsbooks do not like arbers, but you still want to make sure that you are finding sportsbooks with the best range of markets and odds. One of the best we have seen for both of these is Betonline.

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Responsible Gambling

It’s important that, however you bet, you do not do so beyond your means. It’s also important that you don’t disregard other areas of your life, such as family and friends, to focus on gambling.

If you think you might need help, or you know someone who might, take a look at our Responsible Gambling page, where you will find loads of information about steps you can take.

Resources

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Arbitrage Betting FAQs

What is Arbitrage Betting?

Can you use Arbitrage Betting on casino games?

Is Arbitrage Betting worth it and guaranteed to work?

Is Arbitrage Sportsbook Betting better than using the Fibonacci system?

Can Arbitrage Betting be used for sports betting?

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Gavin Beech
iGaming Expert

Gavin is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief content producers for ReadWrite. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 15 years, having written for the Racing Post, Oddschecker.com, Gambling.com and others. Now based in London, Gavin is a big sports fan, particularly when it comes to horse racing, soccer and cricket, and is also a keen frequenter of the Sheephaven Bay in Camden.

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