Matched Betting vs Gambling

Matched Betting vs Gambling

One of the biggest misconceptions in the sports betting world is that matched betting is a form of gambling. Matched betting is a massively misunderstood topic, in general, from fans and non-fans of sports betting. Now, this could be due to matched betting in the USA being a new topic, however, even European sports betting fans can fail to make a clear distinction between the two. Matched betting and traditional gambling both involve placing bets, however, their underlying principles and outcomes differ significantly. In this article, we are going to delve into the distinctions between matched betting and gambling to help you better understand the difference between the two. By the end of this read, we hope to have bettered your understanding of matched betting enough so that you can even try it out for yourself or stick with the more familiar traditional gambling approach.

Matched Betting

Matched betting is a strategy used by individuals to profit from the free bets and incentives offered by bookmakers. It involves placing two opposing bets on the same event to lock in profits regardless of the outcome. The first bet, known as the “back” bet, is placed on a particular outcome to win. The second bet, known as the “lay” bet, is placed against the same outcome to not win (i.e., to lose or draw) on a betting exchange. By covering all possible outcomes, matched bettors can lock in profits without risking their own money. This method relies on mathematical calculations rather than chance, making it a low-risk strategy when executed correctly.

Matched betting is primarily associated with sports betting due to the nature of the promotional offers provided by bookmakers, which are often linked to sports events. In theory, matched betting could be applied to any event with odds offered by bookmakers, including political elections or entertainment awards. If bookmakers offer promotions on these events, the same back and lay betting strategy can be used.


Gambling involves risking money on an uncertain outcome with the hope of winning more. It encompasses various activities like casino games, sports betting, and lotteries. The outcome is predominantly determined by chance, although some forms of gambling may involve skill or strategy to some extent. Gambling often entails larger potential profits, but it also carries an equally large, if not larger, risk of losing money. Many people engage in gambling for entertainment, while others may develop addictive behaviours leading to financial and emotional distress. 

Comparing The Two

In this section we will delve into the difference between gambling and matched and further explain how they differ from one another. 

Risk vs Reward

As we have mentioned, matched betting minimises risk by utilizing mathematical calculations to lock in profits regardless of the outcome. It relies on leveraging promotions and free bets in the bettor’s favour, making for a low-risk strategy. In contrast, gambling is the direct opposite, renowned for being very risky. Gambling relies almost entirely on chance, and although, as a result, it allows for potentially higher payouts, theres also an increased chance of losing money. 

In matched betting, when executed correctly, there is no chance of losing money unless placing a qualifying bet. Matched betting allows for more consistent profits; however, the rewards are typically a lot smaller. When betting for fun, this may turn some players off as matched betting rewards smaller profits and can be very complex for players just starting out.


Matched betting can be very sustainable over the long term because, as we have mentioned, it is a mathematical calculation that leads to successful bets. As long as there are new promotions and sports to bet on, matched betting can be carried out, and profits can continue to be made. On top of this, the more comfortable you become with matched betting, the quicker and more often you can place bets. 

Gambling, on the other hand, grants zero assurance due to it inherently risky nature, as we have already discussed. While some individuals may experience some short-term success, in the long run, the unpredictability of outcomes means that sustained profits are not guaranteed, and bettors are more likely to lose money over the long term. Without careful management and a disciplined approach, gambling can also become harmful, with players gambling too often or wagering too much and losing.

Legal Considerations

Matched betting operates within the legal framework of exploiting promotional offers provided by bookmakers, making it a legitimate and lawful activity in many jurisdictions. Since it involves placing bets on all possible outcomes, it doesn’t contravene gambling regulations or laws. However, it’s essential for matched bettors to comply with the terms and conditions set by bookmakers to avoid any legal issues. On top of this, sportsbooks do not like matched bettors and therefore, if a bookmaker believes you may be matched betting you may have your account blocked.

As well, gambling regulations vary significantly depending on the jurisdiction, with some countries or states prohibiting certain forms of gambling altogether or heavily regulating them. Engaging in gambling activities outside the bounds of the law can result in legal consequences, including fines or even criminal charges. Therefore, individuals must familiarize themselves with the gambling laws in their respective regions and ensure compliance to avoid legal repercussions.

Ease of Play

Matched betting requires a methodical approach and understanding of the strategy, making it more complex to execute compared to traditional forms of gambling. It involves calculating bets and ensuring they are placed correctly, which can require time and effort to master. However, once individuals grasp the concept and process, matched betting can be relatively straightforward to implement.

In contrast, traditional gambling typically involves simpler gameplay mechanics and fewer calculations. Players place bets based on their intuition or preferences without the need for intricate strategies. This simplicity can make gambling more accessible and easier to engage in for individuals seeking quick and uncomplicated entertainment.


In conclusion, both matched betting and gambling offer avenues for entertainment for sports bettors. Regardless of the chosen method, it’s essential for individuals to gamble responsibly and within their means. Understanding the potential risks and rewards associated with each activity is key to enjoying them without experiencing negative consequences. Thank you for reading, and remember to exercise caution when participating in either matched betting or gambling.