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Arbitrage Betting: A Solid Way to Utilise Bonuses and Minimize Losses

Sports betting is way older than casino games. It’s more to the point and participants get more parameters under their control while wagering. One of the first things new punters look into is betting strategies. We have one of them for discussion today, arbitrage betting.

The primary idea behind sports betting strategies is to help punters secure better profit margins. While it’s not a guarantee in any way because that would be counterintuitive to the concept of betting, strategies do help if you can use them in the right way.

Arbitrage betting is one of the most effective betting strategies to date although the profit margins are very slim. Punters who prefer consistency over surprise wins prefer arbitrage betting in Canada.

In our guide today, we’re going to cover what arbing is, how it works, whether it’s legal or not, how to read the odds, and some viable alternatives to the practice.  

Best Online Bookmakers for Arbitrage Betting

Arbitrage betting is not officially offered by bookmakers. While it’s not against the regulations, we can’t say the betting sites like it. It’s simply because they stand to lose more than you do. Nonetheless, you’ll need some spectacular online sportsbooks at your disposal if you want to use this betting strategy.

Our experts have listed the most reputed bookmaking sites for Canadian punters below.

What is Arbitrage Betting?

In simple words, arbitrage betting is when you place the same lay and back bets on the same sports event at 2 different bookmakers. You’re essentially covering all the possible outcomes of a match to eliminate the possibility of loss.

Not only that but you’re also increasing the likelihood of a profit by utilizing the difference in odds.

By definition, you need to use at least 2 different bookmakers to profit from arbitrage betting. However, you’re not limited to only 2 by any means. You can go for more bookmakers and add more bets to the paradigm to squeeze every single possibility of a profit.

For this case, you’ll need to double your bankroll. It’s certainly a problem because not all punters are ready to commit a huge chunk of their money for betting. But it’s a risk you have to take if you want consistent profits.

For effecting arbing, you need to pick your markets carefully. Because the back and lay bet only cover the win and loss outcomes. If a draw is introduced, you’re decreasing the effectiveness of the strategy.

So, when you place 2 opposing bets at 2 different betting sites, you’re covering all of your ground. It’s simply because there are 2 teams or 2 players in a sporting event. And at least 1 of them has to win. It doesn’t matter who wins because you have money riding on both. When the difference in odds is just right, you not only recoup all your losses but also walk away with a profit.

Is Arbitrage Betting Legal? If Yes, Why Should You Do It?

One of the most common questions we get from Canadian punters is whether arbitrage betting is legal or not. You can answer the question yourself if you think about it.

Let’s assume you’re betting on a hockey match between team A and team B. You have valid real money accounts at bookmaker X and bookmaker Y. So, you place your money in favor of team A on bookmaker X and in favor of team B on bookmaker Y.

For each betting, you’re completely within your legal rights to choose a sports event and bet on it. You’re free to open as many betting accounts as you want. So, according to the law, you’re not doing any wrong. Hence, arbitrage betting is completely legal in Canada as well as in the rest of the world.

Now that the legality paradigm is out of the way, should you go for arbing? Is it beneficial for you? We believe it is. Why, you ask? Let’s find out.

Pretty Much Guaranteed Profits

The main reason punters go for arbitrage betting is to maximize the profit margin. And when we say “maximize”, we don’t mean the highest possible amount. Rather, the focus is on consistency. However, to generate consistent profits, you must choose the right arbs. If the difference between the odds is not right, you’ll end up losing money instead of making it.

If you’re having difficulties succeeding with arbing, don’t worry. It’s very normal to struggle with finding the right bets at first. All you have to do is keep at it and you’ll get better with time.

No Handicaps Necessary

Many punters try too hard to find markets with handicaps to consistently win. However, it’s way harder done than said, and experienced bettors would agree. But when you get into arbitrage betting, you don’t need to focus on the handicaps at all.

It’s simply because you’re riding the same amount of money for the underdog as the favourite. So, no matter which team wins, you get your profits.

Lots of Arbing Opportunities

Arbing is not as hard or as exclusive as many punters tend to think. If you have the eye, you can figure out lots of arbing opportunities from the available sports events. The only catch is that you’ll need a while to develop the eye. Bookmakers surely try their hardest to keep the odds similar to each other, it’s just possible for them to cover all fronts.

Pretty much all sports where 2 players or 2 teams go head to head will work with arbitrage betting. You can also apply the same strategy for horse races, greyhound races, or even motorsports. But you'll need a massive bankroll to cover all the participants.

Disadvantages of Arbing

Just sharing the good things about arbitrage betting doesn’t sit right with us. It has its fair share of disadvantages too and you’ll need to keep them in mind if you want to truly benefit from the strategy.

Very Slim Profit Margins

As you’re covering both outcomes of a match, you’re bound to lose one of them. So, your profits will be fairly lower when compared to other betting strategies. Your margin is mostly between 1% to 5%. So, if you want some serious profit, you’ll need to spend way more than your usual bankroll.

You Need Double the Bankroll

Bankroll management is a critical element of using online betting strategies. In that sense, arbing is quite counterintuitive. As you’re covering both outcomes of an event, sometimes even more than 2 outcomes, you’ll need at least double the bankroll that you already have. Pairing it up with the slim profit margin, it’s not a feasible strategy for new punters or punters with smaller bankrolls.

Finding Arbs is Tricky

In the first few days, you’ll face trouble finding the right arbing opportunities. You may lose money during this time instead of increasing your bankroll. But don’t lose hope just yet because if you keep at it, you’ll surely land some big wins shortly.

No Guarantee for a Win

If you go through the trouble of scouring multiple betting sites to find arbing opportunities, you expect some sort of guarantee for a win, right? Well, it’s not possible to guarantee anything when you’re gambling and it’s just as true for arbitrage betting.

Tips to Utilise Arbitrage Betting Like a Pro

Since the very beginning of our guide, we’ve been emphasizing how arbing is a little trickier when compared to other betting strategies. So, it’s our duty to help you out in that regard by sharing tips and tricks. Let’s just do that.

Using Arbitrage Calculators & Software

Yes, finding arbing opportunities is hard. But not when you’re taking help from software. If you search on Google or any other search engine about arbitrage finders, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.

Most of the software work on the same principle. They scour the internet using mathematical algorithms and find the best options for you. From the generated list, you can choose the events that you believe are best for you.

Another great tool is arbitrage calculators. The odds you find from the software on betting events, you can input them into the calculator to find out exactly how much you can win. These calculators also let you compare your own findings and share insights on whether you’ll make a profit or not.

Using help from tools is one of the best arbitrage betting tips we can share with you as it saves a lot of time and money for Canadian punters.

Go For Betting Exchanges instead of Bookmakers

For manual arbing, you need to target at least 2 bookmakers and place opposing bets on the same outcome. It requires 2 different accounts from your end as well as twice the betting funds. However, you can minimize the efforts by simply going for a betting exchange.

A betting exchange is similar to a bookmaker but the odds and events are selected by the punters. This is more like peer-to-peer betting instead of going against the analysts of a betting site. Betting exchanges also offer direct arbing events. And when you find such an event on an exchange, you know that it’s going to pay off.

Research Never Fails

Just because you’re covering all possible outcomes of a sports event doesn’t mean you can put a rest on the research. Research always goes the longest way no matter what betting strategy you use.

If you want to succeed in arbitrage betting, it’s crucial that you understand the sport as well as you’re on top of the latest developments. The only way you can ensure that is by researching all the time. You need to adapt research to your lifestyle rather than doing it occasionally.

When you’re updated on what’s going on in the world of sports, arbing opportunities will show themselves to you automatically.

Understanding the Math

This is where things will get a little technical. Arbitrage betting is solely based on the mathematical edge you can secure for an event. To evaluate whether the bet will actually work or not, you need to understand the math yourself. Remember, depending on others can only take you so far.

Two main mathematical concepts that come into play for arbitrage are the Individual Arbitrage Percentage (IAP) and the Total Arbitrage Percentage (TAP). It’s a juggle between the IAP and TAP that determines whether an arbitrage will work or not.

We’re going to go more in-depth into the formula in the next section, where we look at a real-life example of arbitrage.

Arbitrage Betting Example

You already know that you’ll need to use IAP and TAP to calculate your potential winnings. This formula works the best with decimal odds. So, if you’ve chosen a betting site offering American odds, you should convert them to decimals first.

For our example, we’re choosing an ice hockey match given that it’s the most popular sport in Canada. Let’s say the match is between Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers where the projected odds are 1.60 for Calgary and 2.50 for Edmonton.

So, the IAP formula for Calgary Flames is:


= (1/1.60) x 100

= 62.5

Following the same formula, the IAP for Edmonton Oilers is:

(1/2.50) x 100

= 40

We get the TAP by adding the 2 IPA values. So, the TAP for this particular match is (62.5+40) = 102.5.

As you can see, the value is a little over 100. It’s an indication that the arbing at these odds will not work. Because the house edge is greater than the profit you can accumulate by covering both outcomes. So, you’ll need to apply this formula to other events and see if the TAP is below 100 or not.

If we change the odds to 2.00 and 2.10 for both teams, we get a TAP of 97.62 which is a valid value for arbing.

Now, let’s put everything into context. For the sake of argument, let’s consider you have a C$500 budget for this particular bet.

The formula for maximum profit goes like this (Total Budget x IAP)/TAP.

So, for Calgary Flames, you can land a maximum profit of (C$500 x 47.62)/97.62 [at 2.00 odds] = C$243.90. Well, this is not your profit. Rather, it’s the amount you should spend on the bet favoring Calgary.

Similarly, for Edmonton, you need to spend (C$500 x 50)/97.62 [at 2.10 odds] = C$256.09 on a different bookmaker.

So, when you wager $243.90 on Calgary Flames at 2.00 odds, you get a payout of ($243.90 x 2.00) = C$687.8 where your profit is (687.8-243.90) = C$443.9.

However, you also spent $256.09 on Edmonton which is a lost bet. So, your actual profit from this arbitrage bet is C$(443.9-256.09) = C$187.81. For a C$500 bankroll, that’s not bad at all!  

Bonuses & Promotions for Arbitrage Betting

No matter what betting strategy you apply, you cannot decline the appeal of bonuses. An online bonus is currently the most powerful tool for any business. This practice is most prominent in the iGaming industry. So, check out the possible bonuses you can enjoy while arbitrage betting.

Matched Welcome Bonus

Even if a Canadian online betting site doesn’t offer any other bonuses, it’ll offer a welcome bonus. And in our experience, the most common form of a welcome bonus is a deposit match. In simple words, you get a match whatever you deposit the very first time.

Of course, the bonus amount will be capped at a particular value. It varies from operator to operator. Some operators may cap it at C$200 while others may let you win over C$1,000! We have a dedicated page where we’ve listed the best online bookmakers with the biggest welcome bonuses in Canada. Be sure to check that out.

Free Bets

Free bets can be a part of the welcome bonus as well as a regular promotion. However you may get it, the idea behind free bets is that you get to bet without spending money from your real money from your account.

In comparison to monetary welcome bonuses, free bets are somewhat limited. With a monetary bonus, you can bet on any event you like, at any odds you want, and include as many selections as you want. For free bets, on the other hand, all of those parameters are predetermined by the operator.

Free bets may come in many sizes and shapes. Some operators offer risk-free bets while others offer stake not returned free bets. Make sure you read the T&C section of the bonuses before you claim it. That way, you eliminate the possibility of getting blindsided by a requirement.

Odds Boost

Also labelled as “Enhanced odds”, the bookmaker will boost the odds for a particular event to help you win more. From what we can tell, these promotions are always ongoing and the qualifying events keep changing. One day, you get the boost on a soccer match, and the next day, it might be on a tennis match.

Accumulator Boosts

Plenty of renowned online betting sites utilise this bonus model. If you’re not aware, accumulator and parlay refer to the same type of bet, a bet where you include at least 3 selections. At least, 3 is the global average for the number of minimum selections.

If an online betting site in Canada is offering an accumulator boost, it means the more selections you add, the more you win in bonuses. Usually, the boost starts from 5%. Every time you include an additional selection, you get an additional 5% boost. Of course, the numbers are arbitrary and subject to change from bookmaker to bookmaker.

Alternatives to Arbitrage Betting

If you don’t want to spend your money on arbitrage betting right away, we get it. You surely have your reasons. Thankfully, we have some amazing alternatives that you can go for in Canada.

Over/Under Betting

Well, this is not exactly a betting strategy but rather a bet type. This is extremely common in Canada and almost all online betting sites offer the over/under market.

The idea here is that you bet against the bookmaker’s prediction about what it thinks the score of a match will be. You can either bet on “the score will be over the prediction” or “the score will be under the prediction”. The odds are offered individually on over and under.

Interestingly, you can blend over/under betting with arbitrage betting. Instead of covering both moneylines at 2 bookmakers, cover “over” in one and “under” in the other.

Matched Betting

There is enough room for confusion when dealing with matched bets because they sound and look very similar to arbitrage bets. In fact, the goal of both types of bets is the same. However, in matched betting, half of the bets are funded by a bonus.

It might be a free bet or a matched welcome bonus you got after your first deposit. You cover one outcome of a sporting event with the bonus, let’s say it’s the back bet. And for the lay bet at another bookmaker, you use your own funds.

This way, you’re increasing your profit margin by a lot because you’re not spending double.

Live Betting

On paper, it’s possible to do arbing on live events too. But in reality, you’re unlikely to get the time to compare odds. By the time you’re done, the market will be settled. Also, the live bets vary quite dramatically from betting site to betting site across Canada.

Let’s forget about arbitrage betting for a while, shall we? Live betting simply means betting on markets that are live in real time. So, you can watch the match on TV and place bets on your phone. The great thing about live betting is that you get way more markets at very competitive odds.

Also, if you accidentally put money on the wrong market, you can recoup the loss but quickly add another selection to your bet slip.


Does arbitrage betting work?

It works as long as you’re calculating the probability properly. We’ve shared the formula right in our guide. So, do the calculation before you commit the money.

Is arbitrage betting still profitable?

It is. However, the profits are not going to blow your mind. The whole idea behind betting on arbs is minimizing losses and making consistent profits.

Is arbitrage betting cheating?

No, it’s not. You’re practicing your legal rights to place bets at licensed online bookmakers. And there’s no limitation on how many accounts you can operate.

How do bookies know you’re arbing?

Usually, they don’t know. But if you’re regularly choosing the longest odds, they may put a face to the suspicion and block your account.

How can I find free arb bets?

There is no such thing as “free arb bets”. But you can use regular free bets for arbing and the Strategy is known as matched betting.