Arbitrage: Risk-Free Profits in Sports Betting

This article was written by Michelle Diaz, OddsJam.

An arbitrage bet, or arb, in sports betting is when a bettor places 2+ bets on the same event on 2+ sportsbooks in order to lock in a risk-free return. Although this may sound too good to be true, it’s not! This is the result of sportsbooks having different odds on the same game. Unlike financial markets, in sports betting, there is not one, standard line or line calculation formula that sportsbooks use. Thus, when odds get out of sync on 2+ sportsbooks, arbitrage can exist. Of course, arbitrage is not extremely common, but it’s a great strategy for beginning bettors to grow their bankroll and make risk-free money while betting on sports.

Arbitrage Betting Example

  • Los Angeles Clippers +120 odds on Pointsbet sportsbook
  • Phoenix Suns -105 odds on William Hill sportsbook
  • You bet $300 on the Clippers +120 odds on Pointsbet.
  • Using an arbitrage calculator, you see that you need to bet $338 on the Suns -105 odds on William Hill.
  • You lock in a risk-free return $21.95 – it doesn’t matter if the Clippers win or lose, you’re up $21.95.
There are risks to arbitrage, however. One risk is that the line moves before you can place both bets. Imagine, for example, there is an arbitrage opportunity between BetMGM and Fanduel, two different sportsbooks in the United States. You place your bet on Fanduel, but, by the time you get to BetMGM, the odds have changed. Arbitrage opportunities don’t last for a long time, since the sports betting market is out of sync, so sports bettors need to place their bets quickly before the lines move in order to lock in a risk-free return. Sportsbooks can also place limits on bettors, as discussed in previous articles on our blog.

There are a variety of platforms that provide arbitrage software. OddsJam, for example, is a company designed for Canadian and US bettors. Their software updates in real-time to show users all arbitrage opportunities on all available sportsbooks in a given location. Of course, the hardest part about arbitrage is finding these opportunities; they are rare! Filtering through 10+ sportsbooks and searching for arbitrage opportunities manually is nearly impossible, especially to get the best arbs, as odds are constantly shifting around. The OddsJam Arbitrage Screen updates in real-time to show bettors all arbitrage opportunities in their location, and sends them email alerts whenever a new, profitable arb opportunity pops up.

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