Is Matched Betting Safe? 6 Reasons Why The Answer is NO

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I love matched betting, and I’m always quick to recommend it as one of the most effective and profitable side hustles in the UK. 

However, it’s not for everyone. It’s a myth that matched betting is ‘risk free’. 

Although matched betting is 100% legal, legitimate, and viable for most people, there are some risks and there are some situations where matched betting might not be safe for you personally.

Here are the dangers you should be aware of before matched betting:

6 risks of matched betting

Risk of gambling addiction

This is the big one. Although matched betting itself is not gambling, it throws you right into the lion’s den, dealing with bookmakers and tempting offers all day long.

If you have any history of gambling problems, or tend towards addictive behaviours in general, you should steer well clear of matched betting.

Even some people who have never suffered with addiction before see themselves sucked in. After all, gambling websites are literally designed to be addictive, and they use every psychological trick in the book.

You need an iron will to stick to the matched betting process and don’t give into the temptation to gamble your own money at any stage.

Many people find the casino games, in particular the slots, to be especially addictive. If this worries you then definitely give the casino games a miss.

If you do need support to change your gambling behaviour, contact GamCare on 0808 802 0133 (free 24/7 line) or via chat on their website, and consider signing up with GAMSTOP to block all gambling sites.

Human error

In theory matched betting should work every time and you should always make a profit. The problem is, we’re all only human and we make mistakes occasionally. And in matched betting, mistakes occasionally lead to painful losses. 

You can try to mitigate this by being aware of common mistakes and double-checking everything, but the potential for human error is always there.

Most mistakes happen when we rush. Double-checking is a crucial part of matched betting. Take a moment to review your calculations, including stake amounts and odds.

Other common mistakes include entering data incorrectly, misinterpreting terms and conditions, neglecting qualifying bets, and forgetting to track and record.

Changing odds

Matched betting works because you ‘match’ your bets across two different betting sites. This means using a special odds finder and calculator (on a site such as Outplayed) to work out exactly how much to bet and where. 

The danger can be that sometimes odds change when you are in the middle of placing your two bets, messing up your careful calculation.

This is more of a risk when you are betting on in-play matches, or very close to the start time. You can minimise the risk by sticking to future events.

If the odds do change, you can often fix this by redoing your calculation with the new odds for the second bet. You can call Outplayed customer support (open 7 days a week) to talk you through it if you’re panicking, or ask for help on their forum or Facebook group.

But sometimes, it’s too late to fix and you may make a loss.

Cashflow issues

Done correctly, you always make money matched betting over time.

But one issue is cashflow – particularly in the early stages. You need to deposit some of your own money with the bookmakers before you can place your first bets and qualify for the promotions.

Now, you should always get this back – but your funds could potentially be tied up for a while, for example if you bet on something that takes a long time to settle. 

Bookies may withhold your money while they make additional security checks, such as requesting ID documents. This is especially common the first time you make a withdrawal from a new account. If you have the correct documents, they do pay out eventually – but the unexpected delay could cause issues if you were counting on that money to pay bills.

One way around this is to open a separate bank account for matched betting (this is recommended anyway, for a variety of reasons) and decide how much you are willing to invest upfront. Keep your matched betting 100% separate from your everyday spending and bills budget, and do not invest anything you couldn’t afford to lose.

Mental health 

Matched betting can sometimes have an impact on your mental well-being, and it’s important to understand how it can affect you and what you can do to cope with it. Let’s talk about a few things that can mess with your head:

Unreliable income: The money you make from matched betting can be unpredictable. This uncertainty can stress you out, especially if you’re relying on it to pay the bills. It’s smart to have other sources of income and keep your expectations realistic to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself.

Emotional rollercoaster: Matched betting has its ups and downs; big wins and occasional rough patches. When things are going well, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. But when things go south, it can be tough to handle. Building resilience, staying realistic and having interests and income outside of matched betting can all help you ride out the tougher times.

Stigma: Unfortunately, matched betting can get a bad rap from people who don’t understand it. Some think it’s dodgy, unethical or even illegal. While we know that’s not true, this stigma means it can be hard to talk openly about your matched betting adventures.

Find support within the matched betting community, where you’ll meet others who get it and can offer advice and understanding.

Could affect getting a mortgage

Another situation where matched betting might not be safe for you personally is if you’re planning on applying for a mortgage in the near future.

Lenders typically ask to look at the last few months’ bank statements for affordability checks. And let’s face it, 100s of bookie transactions on your bank statement looks pretty bad.

While we know that matched betting is not gambling, lenders don’t tend to understand this and it sends up a massive red flag.

One way around this is to set up a separate bank account just for matched betting (I recommend Starling). Most lenders will only ask to see your current account statements. But there is a small chance they may ask to see statements from all your accounts, so the safest option may be to stop matched betting altogether for a while.

Also remember that you can’t count matched betting money towards your income when applying for a mortgage. You don’t declare it on a tax return so it’s not officially accounted for.

For more info, see: Matched Betting and Mortgages: What You Need to Know

So is matched betting ever safe?

Despite the above risks, I do think that matched betting is generally safe for most people, if you are not susceptible to gambling or addiction.

The vast majority of people who try matched betting do make a profit. Most people try it for a few months, make a few hundred (or even thousand) pounds in that time, and call it quits with no long term effects. They may make a few mistakes and see a few losses – but if done properly, they will come out in profit over time.

So I am still happy to recommend matched betting as a potential side hustle idea – so long as you are aware of the risks.

Again, if you have any tendency towards addiction, gambling, poor mental health, or if you are in a position where you could not afford to lose any money, matched betting may not be safe for you.

If you do feel happy to give matched betting a go, I would always recommend using a legit matched betting service like Outplayed (the one I’ve used myself). 

Outplayed not only have detailed written and video tutorials to guide you through step-by-step, they also have live customer support 7 days a week. If you make a mistake or get stuck on a tricky offer, they are there to talk you through it and minimise your losses. And at the time of writing, they are guaranteeing your earnings up to the first £250.

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Also, remember to use a separate bank account for matched betting, keep the money separate from your daily spending, and do not invest anything you could not afford to lose.

If matched betting is not for you, no worries! There are still plenty of ways to make extra money online. See these posts for ideas:

And if you want to learn more about matched betting, see these related posts:

Best of luck.

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