What is Sport Arbitrage Betting?

Arbitrage betting (sure betting or arbing) is a type of sports betting when a bettor wagers the bets on opposite outcomes of the same event in different bookies so he guarantees a profit regardless of the outcome of the event. Such betting system is based on the differences in odds in the lines set by the bookmakers.

Arbitrage betting can be very effective, but it also can be very risky. If the bettor cannot find / does not have enough time to wager the correct bets, the bettor loses the money. More so, many bookmakers expressedly prohibit arbitrage betting, and if the bettor is caught in surebeting, then his account may get cut or even blocked.

If one intends to try arbing, it is important to do research and choose the right bookies. You must also be prepared to take the risks of losing money.

[!] This article uses both the "arbitrage situation" and the "surebet" terms, while in fact these are synonymous terms.

Causes of Arbitrage Situations In Sports Betting

Arbitrage situations in sports betting arise for various reasons, but always depend on the discrepancies in the odds in the lines set by different bookmakers. The most common reason for the arbs is competition, where the bookmakers overstate their quotes in order to increase the attractiveness of the line to new bettors.

Basically, the list of the main causes for arbs is as follows:

  • Discrepancies in odds: the bookies use various methods to calculate odds, and sometimes they can make mistakes. More so, the bookmaker experts may have different ideas about the probability of the outcome of an event, which also may lead to discrepancies in quotes.
  • Data inaccuracy: the bookies use different sources of data to set their odds, and sometimes the data may not be correct. For example, the bookmaker may use outdated information obtained from an unreliable source.
  • Bonus offers for new bettors: often the bookies deliberately increase their odds for specific events with the intention of attracting new clients, carrying out some kind of advertising campaign.
  • Delays in quote updates: bookmakers do not always have time to monitor the market for changes in quotes in some particular event. This can often be seen in Live mode, where arbitrage situations appear quite often.
  • Ways to circumvent the bookmaker rules: some bettors use lots of methods to circumvent the bookmaker rules in order to profit from arbitrage situations. For example, a bettor can create multiple accounts at different bookies and wager the bets on opposite outcomes of the same event at each bookmaker.
  • Imperfection of the bookmaker system: the bookmaker system is not perfect, and sometimes errors can occur. It also often results in arbitrage situations.

It is important to note that arbitrage situations are quite rare and hard to find. If you intend to try arbitrage betting, it is important to do some painstaking research, and choose the right bookmakers. That, or you can use the Betwasp app to find suitable arbitrage situations in a matter of minutes.

What is an Arb?

An arb means a situation in a betting when a bettor is guaranteed a profit, regardless of the outcome of the event. Such situations arise due to significant line discrepancies between different bookies. Thanks to surebets, the bettor is to just wager the correct bet on the opposite outcomes, and the wait for the end of the event to collect guaranteed "plus".

What is Arbitrage Betting

At first glance, the search for an arb looks easy thanks to a special formula for this. However, in reality, it is extremely difficult to find an arbitrage situation manually. Skilled bettors have long been using customized services and software to scan bookmakers lines for surebets. One of the best services is considered to be BetWasp, the service constantly scanning the lines of more than 40 popular bookmakers from around the world. With its help, any bettor in a matter of minutes will be able to find any and all arbs suitable for the sports and the bookies the bettor is interested in. This scanner provides access to hundreds of arbitrage situations existing at the moment at any time of the day or night.

[!] We highly recommend to read our other material on this topic "What does EV Betting mean?".

Types of Arbs

In the world of betting, there are only two types of arbitrage situations, both working differently:

  • Premach ones are a type of arbs occurring before the start of the event. It appears at the moment when quotes for opposite outcomes of the same event differ significantly in the lines of different bookies. Such kinds of arbitrage situations are the easiest to find, even on your own. Generally, the prematch are low-yield. Yes, sometimes highly profitable prematch arbs occur, but they are often identified by the bookies experts, and bookmakers apply sanctions to the bettors having bet on them.
  • Live ones are occur during the match (in real time). It is almost impossible to find such arbitrage situations on your own due to odds being constantly updated in live mode. Therefore, we recommend using the BetWasp surebets scanner to provide you with any and all valid live arbs almost instantly. It is worth noting that such types of arbitrage situations are highly profitable, so they are hunted by every bettor in the world.

How to Find an Arbitrage Situation?

It is quite possible to find and recognize an arbitrage situation, but it is difficult for beginners to understand the inner workings without live examples. So let's take a look and analyze one of the NHL regular season matches, the New York Rangers vs the Detroit Red Wings for the signs of betting surebets. In two Bookmakers, we've found the following quotes for the win of the opposing teams:

New York Rangers Bookmaker Detroit Red Wings
-204 Bet365 +197
-156 William Hill +155

Step 1. Convert American odds to decimal format.

First, we need to convert the American odds to decimal format. To convert quotes to decimal values, use the following formulas:

EK = 1 + (K / 100), with positive American odds;
EK = 1 + (100 / K), with negative American odds.

After some simple calculations, we get the following quotes in decimal format:

New York Rangers Bookmaker Detroit Red Wings
1.49 Bet365 2.97
1.64 William Hill 2.55

Step 2. Calculate the inversion (L) for all possible outcomes of the event.

Bookmaker no. 1 (let's take Bet365 here): L = (1/1.49) + (1/2.97) = 1.0102.
Bookmaker no. 2 (let's take William Hill here): L = (1/1.64) + (1/2.55) = 1.0016.

Based on the above calculations, it turns out that the profit for the Bookmaker no. 1 is 1.02%, but the figures for the Bookmaker no. 2 are 0.16%. However, said profit does not depend on the outcome of the event.

Step 3. Calculate the inversion (L) for Bookmaker no. 1 and Bookmaker no. 2.

Let's say we chose a bet on the win of the Detroit Red Wings for the Bookmaker no. 1, and for the Bookmaker no. 2 we took the win of the New York Rangers. Then the inversion will be as follows:

L = (1/1.64) + (1/2.97) = 0.947

According to these calculations, the inversion for the counter bets turned out to be less than 1.0. It turns out that this betting option suits us perfectly. Now let's properly calculate our arbitrage situation.

Step 4. Let's calculate the correct bets.

For the convenience of calculations, let's take $1,000 stake to use to bet on our surebet. First of all, we need to calculate the exact amount of a bet to be wagered in both cases:

S1 = 1000 / (0.947 x 1.64) = $644.2,
S2 = 1000 / (0.947 x 2.97) = $355.8

For convenience and to follow the bookmaker rules, we may slightly round the amounts for each of the bets:

S1 = $645;
S2 = $355.

It turns out that it is exactly $645 that needs to be bet on the win of the Detroit Red Wings in the Bookmaker no. 1, whereas $355 is to be bet on the win of the New York Rangers in the Bookmaker no. 2 to guarantee a profit from this arbitrage situation.

Step 5. Calculate the potential profit.

In the last step, we need to find out the net profit to be made with our bet. To do this, we need to account for any and all possible outcomes of the event.

In case of Detroit Red Wings win:

S = (S1 x K1) - (S1 + S2) = (645 x 1.64) - 1,000 = $57.8

In case of New York Rangers win:

S = (S2 x K2) - (S1 + S2) = (355 x 2.97) - 1,000 = $54.35

It turns out that in any case, we get more than $54 of net profit. This is an profitable arb with a high yield of over 5%. But do not forget that some bookies charge fees for withdrawing funds from the account, so consider these points when estimating the profitability of an arbitrage situation.

Pros of Using the BetWasp to Search for Arbitrage Situations (Surebets)

Manual search for arbitrage situations is a time-taking process not for every bettor to handle. Not every bettor will be able to find at least a couple of arbs, especially in live mode, when quotes for events are being constantly updated.

However, nowadays there are customized services designed to help you find all the arbs you want in a matter of minutes. There are a number of benefits for its users:

  1. Fast scanning speed: the services are able to scan the lines of dozens bookies in a matter of a second, allowing the bettor to find arbitrage situations that may never be found manually.
  2. Arbitrage accuracy: they can accurately calculate the probability of each arbitrage situation, allowing the bettor to maximize profits.
  3. Many opportunities: since the services scan bookmaker lines in many kinds of sports and markets, you always have enough betting opportunities. 

We recommend the software called BetWasp designed to scan dozens of bookies around the world and find the best arbitrage situations. BetWasp provides any and all tools you need to manage your bets, including statistics, charts and predictions.

Here are Some of the Benefits of Using BetWasp:

  • Huge selection of arbitrage situations;
  • Line scanning of more than 40 popular bookmakers all over the world;
  • Line scanning of more than 40 sports;
  • Prematch and live arb modes;
  • Almost no delays in updates of odds;
  • Fully automated search for arbitrage situations.

If you are serious about trying arbing, then using BetWasp is a must. This specialized scanner can help you find arbitrage situations faster, more accurately and more conveniently than in a manual mode.

On our site, you will be able to find a detailed description of the functionality of the BetWasp automated software designed for scanning for arbs and valuebets. We suggest that you also read the detailed manual at the following URL.

How Do the Bookmakers Deal With Arbers

Betting on arbitrage situations is not considered somewhat illegal on its own, however most bookmakers prohibit their bettors from wagering such kinds of bets in their rules. This is due to the fact that bookies cannot profit from surebets, but the bettors are sure to make profit.

The bookmaker experts carefully analyze the bettor behavior in order to identify the arbers. Here are some of the most used methods the bookies use:

  1. Monitoring betting stakes. The bookmaker carefully monitors the amounts of bets because an ordinary bettor will always bet even amounts (10-50-100-200 currency units). But the arber has to bet the right amounts, and that's why their bets often look "strange" (73-117-239 currency units, etc.).
  2. Tracking bets on unpopular tournaments. Inexperienced bettors often bet on tournaments that are unpopular for their country since it is there that the most profitable arbs are found. However, the bookmaker will immediately suspect something is wrong if, for example, a client from New York suddenly wants to bet on an unknown African league.
  3. Supervision of big bets. The bookmakers can track large bets wagered on opposite outcomes of the same event. If the bookies notice that someone is making too many big bets on opposite outcomes, they may even block the account of the bettor.
  4. Verification of personal data. Quite often the arber use accounts with fake data. To identify such bettors, the bookmaker experts demand the account and the entered data to be verified. The same applies to bank cards, they must be issued in the same name as the account.
  5. Setting limits on the betting stakes. The bookies often set limits on the betting amounts for certain events, so the arbs must make 2-3-5-10 identical bets. Such behavior of bettors raises questions from the bookmaker.
  6. Significant overstating of odds. The bookmakers are able to specifically increase quotes for events in order to attract the arbers. Therefore, one must not "rush" into the highly profitable prematch arbs.

"Punishment" For the Arbers: What are the Bookies Sanctions

The bookmakers have different methods for struggling with "dishonest" (in their opinion) bettors. Basically, 4 types of "penalties" may be used:

  1. Limiting the amounts of the bet: in this case, the bettor is not to wager the bets exceeding the personal limit (it can be even $0.01).
  2. "Cutting" the odds: the bookies simply reduces their odds for all or any of selected sports, practically killing the meaning of arbing.
  3. Freezing accounts: the bookmaker can freeze the bettors's account, resulring in the bettor not being able to withdraw funds from the account until the bookmaker decides what to do next.
  4. Confiscation of winnings: the bookmaker may confiscate winnings if they consider the bettor having violated the terms.
  5. Deleting accounts: if the bookmakers catch an arber, they may delete the bettor's account. This is the worst of the options, because in this case, the bettor will no longer be able to wager bets with this bookie.

The arbers are being considered a problem for the bookies because they can make a profit regardless of the outcome of the event. Bookmakers use various methods to deal with such bettors, but they still manage to find ways around said methods.

TOP 5 Tips For Newbie

Despite serious surveillance by the bookmakers, many bettors succeed in using arbitrage situations quite successfully, and making profits. How do they do it? It is quite simple, they just use simple and clear tips that even beginners are able to follow:

  1. Bet only the "round" amounts. You must not bet the exact amounts, as this may cause suspicion among the bookies. Instead, round up your betting stakes to the nearest $10 or $100.
  2. Do not withdraw funds from your account after each win. If you withdraw your winnings after each played event, this may cause suspicion among the bookmakers. Instead, withdraw your funds weekly or even monthly.
  3. Don't bet on too many sports. Each arber must select no more than 2-3 sports for further betting. If you bet on everything, then the bookmakers may have doubts.
  4. Use popular events. Almost all bettors wager their bets on the most popular matches (they are popular for a reason), so the arbers must not neglect them either. We recommend betting on well-known matches from time to time, even if they do not have suitable arbitrage situations.
  5. Avoid suspicious arbs. The bookies often make highly profitable arbitrage situations on purpose in order to identify the arbers. So avoid suspicious events because it could be a trap set by the bookie.

By following these simple tips, you will be able to significantly reduce the risks of being discovered by the bookmakers, and will be able to increase your chances of making profits from betting the arbitrage bets.


⭕ What does arbitrage betting mean?
Arbitrage betting means a type of strategy for a bettor to wager the bets on opposite outcomes of the same event at different bookmakers and make a profit regardless of the outcome of the event.

⭕ How much can one earn from one arbitrage situation?
The size and odds of the bet directly affect the profit from the arbitrage situation. Basically, you can expect to make something between 2% and 5% of your betting stake. However, in live mode, you can easily find high-yield surebets of 10% and even more.

⭕ Is it legal to bet on arbitrage situations?
Arbitrage bets are not a scam or a fraud, so they are considered legal in terms of the law. However, the bookies believe that arbitrage situations violate their rules, so they are actively struggling the arbers.

⭕ Can bookmakers block a bettor?
Yes, the account of a bettor engaged in arbitrage situations can be blocked by the bookmaker. However, this rarely happens, most often the bookies use milder penalties: limiting the maximum betting amounts and freezing accounts.

Used literature, references

  • What are surebets and how do you make money with bets? //
  • Arbitrage Betting Explained //
  • As Sports Gambling Grows, So Do Appetite-Whetting Sure Bets // NYtimes
  • Arbitrage betting //
Oleg Borshchev
Having a huge wealth of knowledge and 11 years of betting proficiency, Oleg kindly shares his tips and experience in our blog. In his articles, you'll learn more about different strategies and bet types, as well as find a lot of useful advices and tips.
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