Arbitrage in Sports Betting

October 18, 2022

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Arbitrage Definition

Arbitrage in betting sports is when a bettor places multiple bets on the same event to guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome. It is usually due to different sportsbooks offering different odds for the same event.

A form of hedging is Arbitrage, but the actual definition is that bettors are required to make arbitrage bets simultaneously.

Below are three common examples of Arbitrage.

Arbitrage Example

  • At the same time, Both books offer different game prices, so you bet on both to guarantee a profit or break even.

You bet $100 on the Cubs line for +110 on FanDuel against the Cardinals. Win Chicago, and you’ll make $110.

Meanwhile, BetMGM ranks the Cubs at -105 and the Cardinals at -105.

You can stake $105 on the Cardinals to win $100 with a guaranteed breakeven or $5 profit.

These arbitrage opportunities exploit by bettors betting on the opening line, and they disappear quickly.

You can use Markets Terminal at Labs Insiders to automatically find games with arbitrage opportunities in legal books.

In this August 2020 example, you guaranteed a profit of 8 cents for every dollar you risk, as you get +128 on Rays and -120 on Orioles.

  • You shop around & find two books on the same prop at different prices.

The above example is no longer often seen in big markets like NFL or MLB games because readers copy each other’s lines. But it still applies to props, as there are no free, focused books to compare prop odds.

FanDuel listed Jeffrey Okudah’s draft position as over/under 4.5 a few weeks before the NFL draft, with an overrating of +115.

Another book also hung 4.5, but below +110.

Both wager $100 and guarantee you a $10 or $15 profit.

  • A Line is in your favor, so you decide to get a guaranteed profit.

It is not a conventional method of Arbitrage, as there is no guarantee that a line will be in your favor. But if so, you can execute an arbitrage bet.

Let’s say the Cubs open at +110, you bet $100 on them, and the action moves Chicago to -115 & the Cardinals to +105. You can now Stake on the Cardinals for +105 and guarantee a $5 or $10 profit no matter who wins.

Is Arbitrage a workable strategy?

Yes and no. For the average bettor, it isn’t easy to win large amounts of money through Arbitrage for several reasons.

  • Profit margins are small, and so you need capital (and high betting limits)
  • Arbitrage is getting harder to find
  • You are at risk of being banned or restricted by the book

Sportsbooks now move their odds live – meaning they change the odds based on the behavior of other books, not the action they’re taking – so you won’t find spreads or odds on most major US sports Lines have significant price differences.

Likewise, you can use Markets Terminal at Labs Insiders to automatically find games with arbitrage opportunities in legal books.

You can also bet at the start of the game and hope it will go in your favor, but most arbitrage players have no hope, even if they feel it will go in their direction.

You can find arbitrage opportunities on props such as drafts where the market is not very liquid, but the limits may be low, making it difficult to generate consistent profits.

Finally, books hate arbitrage players. While arbitrageurs will bet on dozens of different books, if one of them catches on, you risk being banned or restricted.

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