Matched Betting to Beat the Bookmaker – Does it Work?

Complete review of Matched betting in Australia. Read to find out how to use Matched betting as a sidehustle.

The Good

  • Can do it from home
  • Multiple free and paid tools and calculators available
  • Large matched betting community
  • Tax free income
  • Many different bookies to work through

The Bad

  • Takes time to learn how to Matched bet
  • Easy to make costly mistakes by rushing
  • If not done correctly you will get banned (‘Gubbed’) from bookies
  • Potential to become addicted to gambling
  • Can take up your weekends if you let it

Verdict: Matched betting is a legit way to earn on average between $20 to $50 per hour online, tax free.

Have you ever heard of matched betting? It keeps coming up in the FIRE community as a way to earn additional income, and is basically a technique that allows you to profit from online bookmakers’ (betting sites) loss-leading promotions, where bookmakers give away free bets in order to encourage punters to bet with them.

Matched bettors collect these free bets, and then go to a betting exchange where they can sell them for 70-80% of their face value. Although, it is actually a little more complex than that and there are a few more steps, that is the overall gist.

I have made about $700 (which is about $30 per hour) matched betting, thanks to free premium subscriptions to matched betting training sites as a result of this blog. Moving forward I expect to be able to make around $20-$50 per hour. I think for the overwhelming majority of people, $500 per month and $20-$50 per hour is probably a pretty realistic figure for us to work on, with the higher rates occurring from bonus bets and increased odds promotions on weekends.

Before I go on, just a warning: matched betting involves gambling. If you’ve ever had an issue with addiction or gambling, this side hustle is 100% not for you and you should give it a very wide berth.

For free and confidential support 24/7, call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858

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matched betting

The gambling industry in Australia

Online gambling is an industry worth tens of billions of dollars in Australia every year. Australians are actually the biggest gamblers in the world, and per capita our annual bill exceeds $1300 per person.

It is also a huge problem in Australia, destroying tens of thousands of Australian lives each year (something I’ve witnessed this first hand in my family). It’s estimated that 1% of all adult Australians will develop significant problems with online gambling, and up to 2% of Australians experience moderate risks that make them more vulnerable to problem gambling. However, the real risk is with younger Australians where the rates of addiction skyrocket to 7% of the population!

Because so many Australians are literally throw their money away on gambling, bookies are scrambling over each other to try and get the most number of people hooked on their sites so they can profit the most.

One way they do this is by offering huge sign-up bonuses and bonus bets. Although there are now some regulations on sign up bonuses and advertising, they very much still exist, and bookies offer huge incentives to sign up and gamble with them – after all, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what they will make off only just a few problem gamblers.

These bonus sign-up offers can be exploited using matched betting techniques, similar to how you might do so with credit card churning or bank account bonus sign up offers.

What is matched betting?

As I’ve explained, in its purest form matched betting is a type of arbitrage (dealing). It exists because bookmakers give away free bets in order to encourage punters to bet with them. Matched bettors collect these free bets – which cost nothing – and then go to a betting exchange where they can sell them for 70-80% of their face value.

So, matched betting is a simple technique that allows you to profit from these loss-leading promotions. However, it’s a little more complicated than just selling the bonus bets, and there are a few steps involved. Bear with me… (If you prefer to listen, I have a podcast interview with Nico where we talk about matched betting – you can find it online here.)

You place a bet with your free bonus money, called the back bet, and then ‘match’ or ‘hedge’ that bet on a betting exchange with a lay bet. A lay bet is a bet that means you win if the outcome on the back bet doesn’t happen.

This ‘matched’ bet means that no matter what outcome happens on whatever you are betting on, you either win at the bookmaker, or you win at the exchange. As you’ve only paid for one side of the bet (the lay bet on the betting exchange and the other being your free bonus bet) you are guaranteed to make a profit.

A simplified version of this could simply be using two different bookies to place opposing bets on a two-outcome game like the footy grand final, using their respective bonus bets. This cuts out the need for a betting exchange, but realistically means you will get a much lower extraction rate as you are guaranteed to lose all of one of your bonus bets – so a 50% extraction rate would be your best possible outcome.

By using a betting exchange for lay or ‘matched’ bets, you can improve your bonus sign up offer extraction rate to up to 70 to 80%.

Matched betting is not a get rich quick scheme, it is certainly not passive income, and most people can expect to make around $10 to $50 per hour once they get good at it (but you might even lose money over the first few weeks as you learn the ropes). Experienced matched bettors using advanced techniques such as horse racing promotions may be able to get past $100 per hour.

So, is matched betting worth your time? Ultimately that depends on how much you value your time. The best place to learn how do this is online and there are a number of matched betting training providers and a thriving online matched betting community that has been around for decades.

matched betting

Dangers of matched betting

Matched betting is far from the perfect side hustle, and there are a few serious catches you need to be aware of;

  • This side hustle can be incredibly dangerous for anyone who has an addictive personality – problem gambling can destroy lives and families
  • If you deviate from the calculators and scripts by using your own ‘hunches’ you can lose your money
  • If you rush into it, you will probably stuff it up, lose money and waste your time. Patience, young grasshopper!
  • Matched betting will realistically take months to learn and get good at
  • It requires an ongoing time commitment, often at peak recreational times (Friday evenings and weekends) – interfering with your family and social life
  • You will need a few thousand dollars or so to get started hedging your bets efficiently
  • If you are ‘too successful‘ you will get gubbed‘ – banned from promotions (bonus bets or increased odds) or even blacklisted from the bookies*
  • If you open multiple betting accounts in different names (called ‘gnoming’ ) you can be legally prosecuted for fraud
  • Having multiple transfers from your bank account to online gambling sites WILL be flagged during applications for mortgages, police checks and security clearances^
  • For the best results, you will want to pay for an ongoing membership to one of Australia’s matched betting communities (usually around $40 per month)

For free and confidential support 24/7, call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858

*There are techniques experienced matched bettors use such as placing ‘Mug bets’ where you deliberately place a normal bet to disguise your account from being flagged by their automatic matched betting screening software, or to move your ‘value’ across to the betting exchange.

^This isn’t necessarily always a bad thing, online betting is not illegal and you just need to be able to explain the activity. This came up in my aviation security check AND was questioned by my mortgage broker – but was not a deal breaker for either.

matched betting

Matched betting on Reddit

The following is a pretty scathing review of matched betting which I found on Reddit, but I think it is great to see this person’s experience. It highlights a few of the potential traps I’ve discussed earlier. The responses and discussion here is pretty good, so if you are thinking of doing matched betting you should go and read all of the comments on the thread.

TLDR: Matched betting sounds good as a tax-free side hustle, but don’t bother.

Two weeks ago, [a blogger] posted a podcast about matched betting. Nico from bonus bank was claiming you can earn up to $1000 a month, tax free (if you buy his $47 bonus bank service). Sounded good, so I gave it a go, and here are the stats after about 2 weeks.

I didn’t like the work required in my already busy schedule, so I am withdrawing from the scheme. The scheme in short, take certain small losses by making opposing bets in order to qualify for the bonus bets ($50 to win at one bookie, $50 not to win at betfair, lose about $5 either way in the hope of winning a $50 bonus bet).

Bonus bets normally don’t return the stake, so make a bet which is likely to lose at the bookie and win at betfair shifting that bonus to betfair and avoiding the turnover requirements at the bookie.

Float required $~3k

Profit -$15 (including bonus bet fee for a month, bank fees for deposit etc). Here is a Bet tracker with the bets I made over the period as recommended by Bonusbank.

Work required 15min to 1 hour a day, more on the weekends when the games are on. Mostly around 9am AEST each day when “today’s plays” are posted.

It is easy to make an error and lose a lot of money. In one hit I lost $200 because my back and lay bets weren’t on the same outcome (match result, qualifying for the finals)

Lots of the promos don’t pay to NSW. This scheme would work best for QLD residents due to state legislation.

Don’t use a credit card for deposits, they are treated as cash advances.

Bonusbet has an affiliate program, so I think [affiliates] may be making a handsome income from referrals”

Reddit User 5H1Jp4yD

Now, User 5H1Jp4yD wasn’t alone, with 91% upvotes there was also a lot of other suspicious people and haded matched bettors out there. But there was also quite a lot of happy matched bettors too, and some chimed in their positive and profitable experiences, too:

“I did matched betting from October of last year through to March (when most of my accounts were finally restricted). In that time I made about 9 grand, which was, as has been mentioned, tax free. Here’s a few things I learned:

– It is a completely legitimate way of earning a bit of income on the side. Not a permanent one, mind you, but it is a genuine opportunity (despite my skepticism)

– You don’t need to use Bonus Bank or any other paid services. Plenty of free information out there. There’s a free website called ‘Matched Betting Australia’ which is good (I’m not affiliated with them)

– After the sign up bonuses, Horse racing promotions are by far the most valuable promotions available. I’d make a few hundred dollars a week just with those, for not very much time invested.

While some people have bad experiences, I do believe that if you’re careful and structured in your approach, over the course of a few months you will absolutely make money. The maths are strongly in your favour that you have to come out ahead.

My personal verdict: if you have the time to burn and you want to earn some extra money for a bit, it’s worth a go. Do the sign-up bonuses at the very least.

Reddit User Cotirani

I was a bit dubious that someone could make $9,000, but over 6 months that is only $1500 per month, or $375 per week. This could be achieved with as little as 4 hours for an experienced matched bettor, but probably more like 15 hours (or 2 hours per day) for an intermediate matched bettor.

Captain FI’s experience with matched betting

After reading about matched betting, I initially thought this was a scam and ignored it. However, after listening to the Aussie Firebug podcast where he explained how he made some money from it, I decided to give it a go.

Now everyone knows I am pretty frugal and savvy, so I didn’t want to pay for memberships to any of the matched betting communities. I also didn’t want to lose any money. My conservative thinking and solution was as follows:

  1. Sign up to the free matched betting tutorials
  2. Give matched betting a go and make some cash
  3. Write a review of the free matched betting services – I have done so for BonusMoney and for BonusBank which are the two main ones in Australia
  4. Contact the owners of the sites asking for free premium memberships in exchange for writing the reviews
  5. Read all the premium content for free in order to get really good at matched betting
  6. Make bulk stacks of money matched betting

Note that my process is a little different to those people who don’t have a blog to share reviews and information on.

So, did it work?

I am still on step 5, and I am still painfully average at matched betting. To date over about 6 months I have made nearly $500, however this is mostly because I have buggered up a number of bets from rushing in thinking I knew what I was doing. Whilst I haven’t been ‘gubbed’ yet, I am honestly so sick of being spammed by the bookies. I used a completely different email address to sign up to them, but ended up having to unlink it from my phone email because they literally spam me multiple times a day each and I’m sick of deleting the emails.

What about the time I have invested? Well, between listening to the initial matched betting podcasts (3 hours), reading the blogs (3 hours), signing up to the two matched betting membership sites (1 hour each), reading their basic guides (5 hours), talking to their support team (4 hours), initially trying matched betting (4 hours), writing the review articles (4 hours each), having a proper go at matched betting (10 hours) and then interviewing Nic for the podcast (5+ hours of email, recording and editing) – I would say I am at least 40 hours invested into matched betting.

So, how much have I made so far? At best about $16 dollars per hour. However, this factors in all the learning and extra work I have done such as the write ups and podcast. I have also not really taken it that seriously either.

I think as I get better and move into step 6 (profit!) I can pretty safely bank on about $20 – $50 per hour chucking on bonus bets. Realistically though, I think that there is only a couple of hours worth of ‘low hanging fruit’ each weekend. This means I think with a fairly relaxed strategy I could probably do a couple hundred dollars a month.

matched betting

Matched betting bookmakers affiliate income

So what about the affiliate stuff? When I wrote the reviews for BonusMoney and for BonusBank I had made a small amount matched betting so decided to sign up to both of their affiliate programs in order to get access to the premium training content. On a side note – I actually participate in a bunch of different affiliate programs, which is one of the ways I am able to run this website.

Well (and sorry to disappoint anyone) these affiliate programs don’t really make much money at all. Ironically though, the benefit is as long as people sign up the affiliate stuff is completely passive, versus the matched betting where I actually need to log in and do stuff – so it is still attractive from a Financial Independence perspective. From this regard, I think it is better to be an affiliate for matched betting rather than actually to do matched betting – but this only works if you have the audience for it. That’s actually pretty funny when you think about it, so you really need to be careful of ‘Fake Gurus’ or ‘Furus’ online on finance or investing blogs as many website owners will actually only recommend affiliates because it makes them money, not because they are actually good.

There are actually a number of websites solely dedicated to matched betting affiliate income. Their main aim is to rank 1 on google and then direct organic traffic to these matched betting community sites and collect an affiliate referral when people sign up. That’s cool for them, but I don’t think I will be relying on matched betting affiliate income any time soon. This doesn’t just happen for matched betting, but pretty much any affiliate scheme you can think of.

Matched betting the bookmaker vs other side hustles

So, how does matched betting against bookmakers rank against some of the other side hustles I have tried? These are a few of the other side hustles that I have tried…

  • Tutoring: $100 per hour
  • Aviation consulting: $100+ per hour
  • Flying instructing: $150 per hour
  • Unskilled labor (washing cars, cleaning graffiti, picking up rubbish): $20 per hour
  • Writing articles (ghost writing): $100 per 1,000 words (I can write 1,000 words per hour EASY)
  • Flipping things (furniture, vehicles, etc): $50 per hour
  • Property development and real estate investing: ??? No clue how to value this per hour.
  • Online surveys: $10 per hour (this suckkkkkks)
  • e-Commerce (T-spring, Red Bubble etc): $10 per hour (was not very successful for me as I had no audience)
  • Running portfolio of websites: This ranges, but best estimate once established (12-18 months+) is around $50 per hour income (kind of like the ‘dividend’), plus ownership of an asset that is accumulating in value (kind of like the ‘capital growth’) in proportion to the income it generates. I have spent thousands of hours on websites and many of them still suck and don’t make any money though.

So, you can see that my previous matched betting stuff at $16 per hour has really lagged behind a lot of my other side hustles, but I am hoping moving forward to earn more somewhere in the $20-$50 per hour range. Moving forward there is probably only a few side hustles I will bother with (to supplement my main flying job income). These are:

  • Running websites – Because I am building a growing asset that once established provides passive income
  • Flying instructing – Because I love flying, and this is my passion. I love teaching new pilots, as well as helping perfect advanced flying techniques
  • Property investing – I consider this a side hustle and not investing because it takes up so much time!
  • Matched betting (maybe) – Because it is oddly satisfying and I feel like I am getting revenge on the bookies, but also because I feel I need a better ROI for the time I have already invested. Plus I have free memberships to the matched betting communities as a result of this blog.

This is because I am increasingly valuing my time – After reading Your Money or Your Life I am not bothering with small side hustles that sap away most of my time.

Australian Gambling Support lines

Frequently asked questions about matched betting

Answers to frequently asked questions about matched betting in Australia

Is matched betting legal in Australia?

Yes, matched betting is perfectly legal in Australia.

Can I make a living from matched betting?

No, you can’t realistically make a living from matched betting. You could however make up to $1,000 to $2,000 per month as a side hustle.

Is matched betting worth it in 2021?

Yes, matched betting is worth trying as a side hustle in 2021

How many betting accounts can you have?

You can have as many betting accounts with different bookies as you like, however it is illegal to use multiple betting accounts with the same bookie by fraudulently using somebody else’s betting accounts.

Do I have to pay tax on matched betting profit?

No, income from matched betting is tax free as gambling is not considered income by the Australian Tax Office.

Summary of matched betting

Matched betting is a technique that allows you to profit from online bookmakers’ loss-leading promotions. For some, it can be quick money, for others, it’ll take some time and a lot of learning to make a decent income.

We’ve talked a bit about how to actually do this, explored some of the risks and dangers of matched betting, shared information about where you can learn more about it, and heard a few different people’s experiences with matched betting – both good and bad. I’ve also compared my experience matched betting with some of my other side hustles.

If you’re committed to matched betting and are able to spend an hour or two per night on it you will probably be able to make over $500 per month tax free. From the reviews I’ve found and from my experience, most people could realistically make somewhere between $20 to $50 per hour matched betting, with the best hourly rates and return on effort coming from bonus bets on the weekend. Advanced matched bettors can make up to $100 per hour on horse racing, but it will likely take a long time before you reach this level of proficiency.

I think for the overwhelming majority of us, $500 per month, and $20-$50 per hour is probably a pretty solid figure for us to work on. Hopefully this helps you decipher whether this side hustle is for you or not.

Finally, again, if you have any trace of addictive personality or had any issues with gambling in the past, it’s not worth doing matched betting. The bookies will exploit your weakness and make you lose money, which could result in crippling losses.

If you liked the review, have been thinking about matched betting or actually have experience with matched betting, please leave a comment and get in touch – I would be keen to hear your thoughts.

Further reading

Gambling support services in Australia by state

For free and confidential support 24/7, call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858

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5 thoughts on “Matched Betting to Beat the Bookmaker – Does it Work?

  1. Hi there, I have tried Matched betting with my partner and we eventually got blocked from most of the bookies. It was a good side hustle while it lasted, but after a year we gave it up

  2. Hi Captain FI,

    Just some perspective from my recent experience. I used to occasionally attend the races and bet through my bookmaker apps as a social punter. Over the years this was mixed in with the occasional more “professional” gambling. Ie. Capitalizing on generous promotional markets. I think this helped keep my accounts going longer.

    Since covid though I have only been punting in more of a “professional” manner. Sometimes this might be close to being considered a matched betting style. For example, I might take 2 or 3 favored runners in a same race (across different bookies promos) with the various money back 2nd 3rd promos.

    Other times I might just choose one runner in a race, but for about a year now I haven’t made any bets other than in very attractive promotional markets.

    Recently I have now been made ineligible for all promo markets on a few accounts. At this stage I don’t really care if the few other bookies do the same to me, their special promos were not as good anyway.

    The key point I want to make though is over the last year betting in this manner the profits did not even get up to much more than $3k in total across these few accounts that restricted me.

    I suspect the bookies are getting even stricter in banning customers that win. I got that sense googling the topic a bit. I also think they have gone that way because the strategy has got a lot of attention online. E.g. you referred to one blog article but it is also interesting to look at youtube videos on the subject, it has attracted a huge amount of attention.

    My feeling is if you come across older articles on this subject saying that in Australia you can make $1k a month that is a reflection of years gone by in a really good case scenario. I don’t think that is possible now but I am interested in others opinions of recent experience. It feels like to me that the best result nowadays might be turning a profit of near $1k each across a handful of bookmaker accounts across a year. Not really the most sustainable side hustle now.

    I think you have done a good job presenting a lot of the pros and cons on this subject and tying it into other potential side hustles for comparison.

    Cheers
    Steve.

  3. Interesting–I literally just saw this somewhere and was wondering what the hell it meant haha. Great overview! Seems a little more involved for me at the moment but definitely one to keep in mind.

  4. Hi Captain FI
    Do you besides NSW and QLD, do you know how promos work in other Australian states and territories?
    Thanks!

    1. Hey Joel, I can only comment from NSW personally, and from what others have said about in QLD. Maybe best to jump on the Facebook forum and ask around? Sorry I cant help

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