An arbitrage bet, or arb, in sports betting is when a bettor places 2+ bets on the same event using 2+ sportsbooks in order to lock in a risk-free return. Although this may sound too good to be true, it’s not!
This is possible due to sportsbooks having different odds for the same event. Unlike financial markets, in sports betting there is no single standard line or odds calculation formula that sportsbooks use, odds making is completely upto the sportsbooks themselves. Thus, when odds get out of sync on 2+ sportsbooks, arbitrage can exist. Of course, arbitrage is not extremely common, but it’s a great strategy for beginning bettors to grow their bankroll and make risk-free money while betting on sports.
Arbitrage Betting Example
- Los Angeles Clippers +120 ($2.20) odds on Pointsbet sportsbook
- Phoenix Suns -105 ($1.95) odds on William Hill sportsbook
- You bet $300 on the Clippers +120 ($2.20) odds on Pointsbet.
- Using an arbitrage calculator, you see that you need to bet $338 on the Suns -105 ($1.95) odds on William Hill.
- You lock in a risk-free return of $21.95 – it doesn’t matter if the Clippers win or lose, you’re up $21.95.
Arbitrage Betting Pros
The benefits of arbitrage are pretty straightforward:
- You are making risk-free money with each successful arbitrage bet that you’re able to place.
- Requires no sports knowledge or advanced mathematical skills
- Plenty of resources available to take advantage of arbitrage betting
An example of a lucrative arbitrage system:
If you’re able to place a few $250 arbitrage bets a day, each at 2%, that’s $15 in risk-free profit for just a few minutes of your time. This is an easy side hustle that requires very little time. 4 of these a day will net you a tidy $60 profit, or an annual $21, 900. Not too shabby.
This is obviously a dream scenario, but not completely outside the realms of possibility.
But. Yes, there’s always a But…. There are some factors that might get in the way of you netting those tidy profits:
Arbitrage Betting Cons
There are cons to arbitrage betting, however.
- Arbitrage can take the fun out of sports betting. Instead of gambling, you’re “arbing,” which means you are indifferent to the team that wins the game.
- A risk is that the odds can move before you can place both bets. Imagine, for example, there is an arbitrage opportunity between BetMGM and Fanduel, two different sportsbooks in the United States. You place your bet on Fanduel, but, by the time you get to BetMGM, the odds have changed. Arbitrage opportunities don’t last for a long time, since the sports betting market is out of sync, so sports bettors need to place their bets quickly before the lines move in order to lock in a risk-free return.
- The most imminent threat to your arbitrage side hustle is Sportsbooks placing limits on bettors who begin to win large sums of money, as discussed in previous articles on this blog. This will happen eventually, the hope is that you can make a nice profit before they catch on.
There are a variety of platforms that provide arbitrage software. OddsJam (My company), for example, is designed for Canadian and US bettors. The software updates in real-time to show users all arbitrage opportunities on all available sportsbooks in a given location. Of course, the hardest part about arbitrage is finding these opportunities; they are rare! Filtering through 10+ sportsbooks and searching for arbitrage opportunities manually is nearly impossible, especially to get the best arbs, as odds are constantly shifting around. The OddsJam Arbitrage Screen updates in real-time to show bettors all arbitrage opportunities in their location, and sends them email alerts whenever a new, profitable arb opportunity pops up.
Arbitrage may or may not be for you, but it’s a great strategy for any new bettors arsenal. Arbitrage is simply the process of taking advantage of sportsbook inefficiencies. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not; Arbitrage almost always exists in the US sports betting market. My advice, take advantage of it while you can.