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8 myths about matched betting that need to be busted


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There has been a huge amount of buzz about matched betting online over the past few years, and for good reason - many people are finding that, if they dedicate time and patience and work out some tricks, they can earn a tidy side income from it without risking any of their own money. And January may be the best time to look into this.

Image credit: ICMA Photos

But what is matched betting? And is it as complicated as it might appear?

Put simply, matched betting in the practice of placing two bets at the same time, to cover both possible outcomes - eg, a major sports team either winning or losing an important tournament. Because you’re betting on both outcomes your return is guaranteed. You can avoid spending your own money on this by using the sign-up incentives and free bets that the vast majority of betting companies offer as standard.

Here are some myths that you might’ve heard about matched betting, cleared up.

1. You need to spend loads of money to make money

Not true - the basis of matched betting is that you take advantage of sign-up incentives, so there’s no need to deposit much of your own money at all. A typical situation would be depositing £5 to trigger the sign-up incentive of £20 of free bets, for example. Because the deposit is not at risk, it's merely a means to an end. Which leads us on to our next point…

2. It’s risky

Because matched betting is based on statistics rather than chance, and because it’s based on the free incentives that are offered by most online betting companies, the risks are at worst minimal and at best non-existent.

The only risks that you might encounter are bookmakers flagging your account as “unprofitable” and stopping you taking part in free promotions or incentives (this is known as “gubbing”) - but in that case, you can just move on to somewhere else.

3. It’s not legal

There are no legal implications with matched betting - the incentives and/or free bets offered by companies in the sector are of course legal, and you can use as many of them as you like.

4. Bookmakers hate it

Generally, bookmakers hate winners, not matched bettors - and they're just as likely to "gub" you as they are a big winner. In fact, bookmakers are generally happy for you to take advantage of their platforms for matched betting - you’re using their platform, after all, driving the income that they can get from revenue sources such as advertising. In short, there's no statistical evidence that matched betting negatively impacts a bookmakers bottom line.

5. Winnings are taxed

Winnings from gambling in the UK are tax-free, and this includes any money you make from matched betting - so there’s no need to declare your winnings, even if you’re using a platform like Heads&Heads as a sweet little side-earner to supplement other income - like finance blogger Katykicker. Here are the rules on gambling winnings and the law, as set out by HMRC.

6. It’s hard to set up

Getting to grips with the concept of matched betting is likely to seem daunting if you’re not a pro when it comes to sports betting - but it really is simple once you get your head around it. There are numerous guides online to help you get started, and Heads&Heads even has a dedicated training page on its site, which includes a beginner’s guide to matched betting, seven mistakes to avoid, and a glossary of terms to help you understand.

7. I might as well just put my Christmas money into a savings account

Even though it's hard to make a direct comparison between the two, Money Magpie and Heads&Heads have calculated that a Fixed Rate Saver account with a typical rate of 2.05% per annum would net you £20.50 if you deposited £1,000.

Using a matched betting platform and committing 20 hours to place bets, on the other hand, could net you £500 per month with an initial deposit of £100 - that's a rate of £25 per hour.

It all depends, of course, if you want to commit the time to learn how to make matched betting work for you - or whether you'd be more comfortable letting your money sit for a lesser return.

8. It’s too good to be true

We don’t think so.

Find out more about matched betting at Heads&Heads here.

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