I stumbled across matched betting six months ago after reading about it on a few personal finance blogs. Matched betting is a lucrative and tax-free side-hustle available in the UK that uses gambling bonuses and a system of buying and selling (or laying) bets online to lock-in guaranteed profits. After researching the opportunity I decided to try it despite not having much spare time (full-time job + part-time MBA + volunteering + husband + son + dogs = no spare time!). But the draw to tax-free side income was too strong to resist and I dived straight in.
I am glad that I did. At the time of writing this post I am exactly £2,196.09 better off than I was 6 months ago. That amount of income tax-free is incredible. However, my monthly profits have taken a completely nose-dive since February and I am currently facing a net loss for the month of May. Have a look at my profits since starting in December 2016: The reason for the poor performance in April and May are the result of being short of time, getting restricted by a few key gambling websites, and making three careless mistakes.
Matched betting is normally sold to people as being a long-term income stream for those who put in the time. I agree with this and there are profits to be made, but I also think that matched betting has an expiry date for those with a busy life. Even for those with the time, there are diminishing returns. People that make £2,000 per month every month will be putting in 30 to 40 hours per week on gambling sites. They will also have thousands of pounds pumping through a range of gambling accounts at any given time. I have deposited £8,662 into gambling websites so far and currently have £1,042 currently sitting in gambling ‘wallets’ online.
Matched betting is not a side-hustle to approach lightly. I have made 3 mistakes over the past few weeks, which resulted in around £200 of losses. I was able to cope with this level of losses easily, but if larger stakes were at play, my losses could have easily been much higher than this.
If you are thinking of dabbling in matched betting, I have a few tips to pass on from what I have learned in my first 6 months:
- Keep your expectations in check: the first £1,000 will be easy but each £10 after that will be harder as diminishing returns kick in. This makes matched betting a short-term side-hustle in my view.
- To make a decent return, you will need to join a matched betting site that has matching software available. There are two main sites in the UK. I personally use Oddsmonkey and think they are great, but it costs £15 per month. (Please note: I am not affiliated with this company).
- Expect to make some mistakes and only risk what you would be comfortable to lose. Keep your stakes low to start and only increase them once you have learned your way around the gambling sites and the matched betting forums.
- There are many different types of offers available on the forums that are not risk-free because once your first £1,000 or so is made, you will need to branch out to casino offers, bingo offers, etc. Make sure you understand which offers are risk-free and which are not before you start them.
- You will need to commit time to get the most out of the offers. In particular, Saturday mornings are a busy time for matched betters because it is when the horse offers are available. If you are busy every Saturday morning, you will need to lower your expectations of what you will be able to make.
- Use a separate bank account for your matching betting activities to keep it separate from your main account. You will also need a set amount of investment to start with. I recommend starting with £500 (£200 in an exchange account and £300 to spread amounts the bookies).
- Do not chase losses. You will lose some money once you branch out into offers that are not risk-free. If you lose £5, you will be tempted to keep going to try and make this £5 back. Do not do this. If you lose £5, walk away and move onto the next offer.
I am very glad to have tried matched betting and I am thinking about how best to invest the money I have made. It has absolutely been worth the time, at least for the first four months when I made decent profits. However, I would warn that unless you have the time and are open to branching into risky offers with increased stakes, matched betting is a case of playing the short-game.