What is Matched Betting? The Complete Guide

Matched betting is a way to turn the free bets offered by online bookmakers into real money. Cover all of the potential outcomes of a sporting event by placing more than one bet. That way, you can unlock value and look to make a profit every time because the result of the event becomes irrelevant.

This guide will show you the matched betting process from start to finish, including easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions. Find out if matched betting is for you, thanks to this complete overview.

Matched betting still works in the UK in 2019. It’s not a con, it’s not a scam and it’s definitely not dead — it’s completely legal and an effective way to make money. You don’t even need to know anything about gambling or sports to get started.

This matched betting guide covers everything beginners need to know:


What is Matched Betting?

How does matched betting work?

Matched betting still works in 2019 because the maths means that you win no matter what the outcome of the event you’re betting on.When you place a bet at a bookmaker, the bookmaker is effectively betting against your outcome coming true. They balance the odds offered to ensure that they make a profit no matter what the outcome.In matched betting, you act as the better and the bookmaker, ensuring that you win no matter what. It involves making two kinds of bets:


As the name suggests, a back bet means that you're backing a certain outcome to come true -- you're betting that something will happen. You place back bets at regular online bookmakers like Paddy Power or William Hill


With a lay bet, you're betting against a certain outcome -- you're betting that it won't come true so that it cancels out your back bet. You can only place lay bets through betting exchanges like Betfair, which allow you to act as the bookmaker.

The idea is to match your lay bet odds to your back bet odds, so that you cancel out the risk — hence the term ‘matched betting’. You also place your bets on sites offering ‘free bet’ deals so that you can repeat the process without spending any of your own money and therefore increase your profits.

Here’s an example of how matched betting works, step by step:

A bookmaker has an offer to 'Bet £10 get £30 in free bets', so you deposit and stake £10 of your own money. This is know as the qualifying bet.
You place a £10 back bet at the bookmaker on England to win their next game.
You place a lay bet on a betting exchange. This means that you bet against England winning their next game, balancing the odds and stake to match your back bet.
England play their game, and either your back bet or lay bet wins. You should have won a similar amount of money as you staked, but also unlocked £30 of free bets with the bookmaker.
You repeat the process using your free bets, effectively turning your free bets into real cash. The slight differences in odds and the cuts the bookmakers take mean you should end up with around 75–80% of the free bet amount, so a £30 free bet turns into around £24 profit.

You can do matched betting yourself, but the maths can be complicated and it’s easy to go wrong. That’s why most people use software like OddsMatcher, which will keep you on the right track. It finds, sorts and ranks the best odds for you, and its built-in calculator works out how much you’ll need to bet in order to make money.

One of the major stumbling blocks a lot of people have to getting started with matched betting is understand liability. At a betting exchange like Betfair when we place a lay bet the amount of money we are risking is called liability.

At the bookmaker, we are risking our stake but at the exchange, we are risking the liability. Of course with matched betting these 2 things cancel each other out so there’s no need to worry about it but here’s a video that explains how liability works.

How much can you make from matched betting? Is it sustainable?

How much money you can make from matched betting depends how much time you put into it, as well as the deals offered by bookmakers. These matched betting stories show that every OddsMonkey member has a different lifestyle, goals, and amount of time available.

There’s the most opportunity when you first begin matched betting as a new customer, because the majority of bookmakers offer generous sign-up offers. You should be able to make around £1,000–£1,500 quite quickly by taking advantage of these welcome deals through matched betting.

However, matched betting is sustainable and profitable for the long-term. Once you’ve opened all of your bookie accounts, you can make around £500–£700 a month by taking advantage of offers for existing customers. That’ll take around 40 minutes per day. However, members in our forum regularly report making £900+ per month, so it is possible to make a living from matched betting.

Remember: you don’t need to pay any tax on matched betting earnings. That means you can make the equivalent of a £20,000+ salary by spending just a few hours a day!

Is matched betting worth it?

Our customers certainly think that matched betting is worth it! Our tools and resources make matched betting quick and easy, and all the money you earn is tax-free.

You can certainly earn an impressive hourly rate with matched betting, but whether it’s worth the time investment depends entirely on your circumstances. Read our matched betting success stories.

The Legalities & Finance

Is matched betting legal?

Matched betting is completely legal in the UK but you do have to be aged 18 or over, just as with any other gambling activity. It is not a scam and it is not a con — it may seem too good to be true, but it’s totally legit!

Bookmakers aren’t huge fans of matched betting, because they’re not making money off you — they sometimes refer to the practice as ‘bonus abuse’. However, it’s by no means illegal and the worst they can do as ‘punishment’ is put restrictions on your account, in a process known as gubbing. Learn more about gubbing and how to avoid it.

Is matched betting safe? What are the risks?

Matched betting is totally safe and risk-free in principle — theoretically, it is guaranteed to generate profits. However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) considers the claim of matched betting being 100% risk-free “misleading because, although theoretically sound, the process was open to human error”.

In other words, there is potential for you to make a human error that will lose you money, so matched betting is not 100% without risk. There is also a small chance that the odds will change in the time between you placing your back bet and lay bet, meaning that the bet is no longer properly matched.

But that’s exactly what OddsMonkey is here for: to offer tools and advice that dramatically reduce the chance of you making a mistake, and give you a plan B if the odds do change at the last second. We also take measures to protect members’ privacy.

You can find out more about matched betting risks in our blog post on matched betting problems.

Is matched betting gambling?

There’s a lot of overlap with matched betting and gambling — you’ll be placing bets and using bookmaker sites, so you do need to be over 18. Matched betting also benefits from the fact that winnings from gambling activities are not taxed in the UK.

However, gambling involves “taking a punt” on the outcome ending up in your favour. If you don’t get lucky, you won’t make any money. On the other hand, the outcome doesn’t matter in matched betting. You don’t guess what will happen and risk your money on it coming true: you back both options so that it’s impossible to lose. So, matched betting is not really gambling in that sense.

What is no-risk matched betting?

No-risk matched betting is a form of matched betting whereby your qualifying bet is effectively free. For example, you might take advantage of “get your money back if your bet loses” deals, free spins on slot games, or no-deposit bonuses. It isn’t always possible because bookmakers offer these generous deals less frequently.

OddsMonkey members can use our risk-free bet calculator to make the most of no-risk matched betting opportunities.

Does matched betting affect your credit rating?

Matched betting does not affect your credit score. Credit rating agency Experian told the Guardian: “It won’t appear on the credit reference radar. You can have as many gaming accounts as you want.”

Betting websites may make a “soft search” on your credit report to make sure you are who you say you are, but they do not perform a proper credit check — after all, you are not applying for credit. Lenders will not be able to see these searches, and there will be no impact on your credit rating.

Will matched betting affect my mortgage application?

If you are concerned that a potential lender will look unfavourably on your mortgage application due to frequent betting activity on your bank statements, it’s a good idea to set up a separate bank account for matched betting or use an e-wallet like Skrill.

Bear in mind that matched betting earnings will not count as an official form of monthly income when applying for your mortgage. In other words, you can’t use matched betting to prove that you’ll be able to afford your future mortgage repayments.

Getting Started

Matched betting outside the UK

Because we’re located in the UK, most of the offers we find and post on OddsMonkey are UK-based. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that if you live outside the UK you can’t matched bet, it just means that you’ll need to check the terms and conditions of individual bookmakers and offers to see if you’re still eligible.The availability of offers depends on the bookie. Some of the larger bookmakers operate in countries across the world and may have similar offers available in your country. It’s a slightly more manual process, finding these offers. But there’s still money to be made.You should also check bookmakers’ terms if you’re a UK resident on holiday, as betting restrictions may still apply while you’re temporarily abroad.

How to start matched betting

Depending on your budget, experience and level of matched betting activity, your setup could vary greatly. It could be anything from a smartphone and a notebook to a multi-screen arrangement.However, at this point, all you need is a computer with a good internet connection. The most important thing is that you need to able to move between tabs and windows quickly without worrying about your connection dropping out. Odds can change quickly and your internet needs to keep up as much as it can.We also recommend setting up an email address specifically for matched betting. That way, you can avoid ‘spam’ in your personal account and all of the offers that are sent to you will be in one place (easy to find). There are loads of free email services out there (Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, Mail.com). Get a separate account and sync it up to your smartphone so you never miss an offer!

How much do I need to start matched betting?

The amount of your own money you need to start matched betting (known as your “float” or “bankroll”) depends on your circumstances and how much money you can afford to set aside for matched betting. We’d recommend a minimum bankroll of at least £50, but the more you start with, the more you can earn. A larger bank roll means you can do more offers at once, without having to wait for your money to transfer between bank, bookmaker and betting exchange accounts.

Do I need a separate bank account for matched betting?

The main argument for having a bank account especially for matched betting is so everyday spending doesn’t get in the way. It’s as simple as that. With a separate bank account, you can keep track of your incomings and outgoings more easily. Without having to trawl through all those Just Eat orders and bills…Joking aside though, most of us have direct debits set up for things, so we need money in the bank on a certain date. Withdrawal times differ between bookmakers and sometimes there’ll be extra delays that are out of your control. It can be a bit of a waiting game. And this all means that you won’t always be able to guarantee when you have the amount of money you were expecting.

How to find welcome offers

When you first start matched betting, you can take advantage of bookies’ welcome offers, provided you haven’t already got an account on these sites. These are usually very generous because they want to encourage you to become a customer.When you sign up to OddsMonkey as a free member, you get walkthroughs for your first two welcome offers. The money you make from these is yours to keep. And Profit Tracker will help you see how much you’ve earned straight away! As a premium member, you’ll get access to a full list of sign-up offers and all the matched betting tutorials and tools you need to make the most of them.Once you’ve signed up to all the betting sites and taken advantage of every welcome offer, there are still ways to make money. Read all about matched betting for existing customers.

Who are good bookies for matched betting newbies?

The biggest UK bookies — like Coral, William Hill, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and bet365 — tend to have the most competitive offers and odds, so their sites can be good places for newbies to start.However, they’re not always the best option. Having accounts with all legit UK bookmakers will allow you to take advantage of the most profitable deals, wherever they are. Plus, most bookies have a welcome offer you can cash in on.Our premium members hear about the deals from all the good bookies out there. We’ll also get you signed up to all the betting exchange sites, so you can get the best price every time.

Is OddsMonkey the best matched betting site?

We’re British, so it’s not really in our nature to blow our own horn, but we did create the original matched betting software. And it feels pretty good to know that OddsMatcher has been used throughout the matched betting community since 2011, helping tens of thousands of people earn real money.Since then, we’ve put together a strong team of matched betting experts and top developers. All of this means we’ve been able to add new tools, training, videos, tutorials and customer support to the OddsMonkey site.While we did build the first odds matching tool, we didn’t create matched betting itself. People used to have to search for odds and betting opportunities manually, which was tricky, time-consuming and pretty tedious. What OddsMonkey did was turn the process automatic, making it quicker and easier for anyone and everyone to use matched betting to make money online and add to their monthly income.If you still have questions about matched betting, please contact us at support@oddsmonkey.com. You might also want to take a look at our matched betting glossary.

About the Author

With more than 12 years’ experience in matched betting, it’s odds-on that Peter Watton knows what he’s talking about.

Read more about Peter