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Money for nothing – and your (gambling) kicks for free

How to take free cash from bookies: Part 1

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Read the fine print

Is it really that simple? Not quite. The arrival of betting exchanges means it is relatively simple to act as a bookmaker yourself and lay bets. However, the odds they offer rarely neatly match those of the bookmaker offering the free bet. They also charge a commission of 5 per cent, payable on winnings. Also, some bookmaker free bet deals return the stake with winnings, and some don't. This means that you are unlikely to get 100 per cent of the free bet – but 60 to 70 per cent is achievable.

Also, some offers, instead of giving a free bet, give you a cash bonus for depositing money. They insist you have to bet your deposit and bonus money several times before you can withdraw it – you either get lucky and lose at this bookmaker and get all your profit on the opposing bet, or you have to repeat the process.

But what makes it really simple is that there are online services which do all the hard work for you - they tell you which online offers to accept, and work out all odds, types of bets, and amounts to place. They also gave the exact profit of each trade as well. Examples are Matched Betting Assistant and FreeBets4All. Doing a search on "matched betting" will lead you to others – the MoneySavingExpert forum also has good guides and downloadable spreadsheets to help with the calculations.

Credit record

How will opening lots of bookmaker accounts affect your credit rating? As long as you don't mismanage your money, or exceed account limits, opening and funding lots of bookmaker accounts will have no affect on your credit scoring. Santander say “credit scoring and ratings are a result of whether the account is kept in good order or not... that has no bearing on the type of transaction.”

Credit reference agency Experian say that the gaming companies don't currently share any account data with their industry. “It won't appear on the credit reference radar. You can have as many gaming accounts as you want,” a spokesman said.

What can go wrong? You can make mistakes with your betting slips, entering the wrong amount, or failing to back the right event. Bookmakers can go also go bust, and market conditions are currently tough. There are a lot of bookmakers in the world offering these deals, and Sportsbook Review gives ratings to hundreds of them – and has a very long blacklist of ones to avoid. Another pitfall is that you could start gambling, and most gamblers are losers.

What do I do when I run out of free offers? You either stop and pocket your profits or move into sports arbitrage – which I will cover in the follow-up to this article.

Automated sports arbitrage services, such as RebelBetting and SportsArbitrageWorld find pricing discrepancies between bookmakers guaranteeing profits for their customers betting on both sides of an event. They encourage the grabbing of bookmaker freebies as part of a trading strategy and offer free trials. Both these services offer excellent guides to the strategy.

Rajeev Shah, managing director of Sports Arbitrage World, and a former City-based foreign exchange trader, says he found it “incredible” when he discovered how simple it was to exploit these free bets. “It was money out of thin air,” he says.

I agree and I've not used my name on this article in case some bookmakers decided to close my accounts. ®

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