Is Sports Arbitrage Betting Real?
March 09, 2020
Sports Arbitrage Betting
Imagine a scenario where you invest an amount of money and there is a guaranteed profit! Hard? Impossible? Not at all! Let us provide you with a mathematically proven strategy, which, when applied correctly, actually provides such possibilities.
What is arbitrage?
Arbitrage itself is defined as identifying and taking advantage of any differences between the prices of various markets. Arbitrage sports betting functions as a practice which, with the help of mathematical formulas, allows you to place bets on a specific sport across different bookmaker websites to gain a definite profit. This blog came to be after a curious idea to see if web scraping can enhance this process.
Even though this process includes the word “betting”, it is not considered gambling, rather a mathematical process of securing a profit. Many arbers (people who seek out arbitrage possibilities) know very little about sports but understand the math and process behind betting on them.
Usually, to execute arbitrage sports betting, one must manually roam through various bookmaker websites (websites that provide betting on sports), search through various combinations of odds and find which ones provide the possibility of arbitrage. It sounds like a very lengthy and complicated process, so can web scraping reduce the time and effort it takes to apply this strategy to gain a profit?
To better understand, let’s see how such possibilities exist and what the calculations behind the strategy are.
How does arbitrage work.
Arbitrage is possible when any inconsistency between odds on different betting sites occur, which therefore creates the opportunity for a secure profit gain by placing bets on all of the possible outcomes across different sports betting websites. Such opportunities mostly arise when bookmakers are in disagreement with the odds or make a mistake when pricing the market.
To arbitrage bet, there are two things you must make sure of: does an arbitrage opportunity exist with the combination of odds found? If yes, then how do you divide the investment between those odds so there will be a guaranteed profit?
To better explain, let’s take an example - a hypothetical scenario where Bookmaker 1 has placed odds as follows: Team A’s odds of winning are 1.3, but Team B’s odds are 3.93. However, Bookmaker 2 considers different and has chosen to place odds as for Team A as 1.42, but Team B as 2.9.
Now, the math behind figuring out if this case is an arbitrage possibility is quite straightforward. All it takes is to divide 1 by each of the odds and sum both of the numbers, then if the sum number is below 1, an arbitrage possibility exists.
Accordingly, we take the odds that would ensure a profit and move on to figuring out how much to place on which odd. For example, let’s say that we decide to invest $1000 into arbitrage betting, the calculation would be:
It's as easy as that. However, there’s no need to calculate this all by yourself - there are many calculators available online where the amount to invest and the odds of each outcome from the various bookmakers’ sites can be inserted and it will do the math for you.
Is it legal?
Arbitrage betting is not illegal by itself – at least there are no laws in place to stand against it – however, it often does break the terms & conditions of the bookmaker sites. Nevertheless, arbers argue that the art of arbitrage sports betting is simply calculating and picking the good value odds of the sites they bet on.
However, bookmakers do have a trained hand on detecting arbers. It can be rather obvious that an account is arbitrage betting when they have a constant long-term profit. In this case, bookmakers can suspend and block accounts from the websites they own.
How can web scraping help?
To answer the question of if and how web scraping can improve or help in this lengthy process of finding arbitrage possibilities, we took various bookmaker sites and scraped the records of odds of football matches, afterward creating formulas from the examples shown above to see if, from the records scraped, there are any arbitrage possibilities.
You can access our scraped records here.
We scraped every five minutes over a five-day period, across 7 different sports betting websites. After gathering all the records in Google Sheets and applying the formulas explained previously in the blog, it was clear that sports arbitrage betting is possible and quite easy when a scraper does all the hard work for you. From our accumulated data, we found 3 arbitrage possibilities, allowing us to hypothetically gain a $15 profit. Arbitrage betting might not be a “get rich fast” approach, but if constant work is put into investing, hypothetically, $1000 profit could be made in a one-year period from sports arbitrage betting.