Cheating in Sports Betting: How to Avoid It

What Tactics or Systems Should be used to Play at Bookmakers?

The first question you may have is: “Is cheating common in sports betting?” The answer to this is, “Of course. Wherever there’s money involved, someone will find a way to cheat the system.” However, you should focus on tactics that are either technically legal or not necessarily classed as a cheat. It is important to choose strategies that are NOT considered cheating. This is the only way to play responsibly.

Gamble ResponsiblyNo matter what tactic you choose make sure it is legal. Avoid risks when betting.

Every sport relies on a bookmaker giving odds on a particular outcome, whether it’s football, basketball, or boxing. For many bettors, making wagers that make the odds work for you in some way is considered part of the thrill of gambling.

Simply put, many popular tactics and systems involve gaming the odds, especially when it comes to sports.

Betting Strategies

It’s all in the Numbers

Ultimately, it’s all down to mathematics. Take counting cards, for example. Many casinos consider this to be cheating and ban players caught doing it. It’s viewed as a way to cheat by casinos because it’s a system that lets the player win, and win often.

Of course, as soon as you introduce a winning formula to any game or sport, bookmakers and casinos take steps to stop it. They can’t encourage anything that involves using underhand tactics, after all. The key here is to look for reputable and professional brands only. This will guarantee you fair play.

Common Sports Betting Systems

Or can they? Here’s where the ‘grey area’ gets even murkier. If you spend enough time on gambling websites, then you’ll find that some allow match betting or arbitrage betting – both systems that are frowned upon and even banned by many betting sites. Although we explain the systems further down we do not in any way recommend you using them.

Matched Betting

Matched betting is a system that involves making the most out of free bet bonuses offered by many websites.

Matched betting works like this: you make a back bet (e.g. “This team will win their next match”) at a bookmaker, and then a lay bet (e.g. “The same team won’t win their next match”) at a betting exchange (for the same, or similar, odds as the back bet). Think of it as effectively wagering against yourself.

As to how this involves a bookmaker’s free bet: this is your profit. Оnce you’ve made a first or qualifying bet, then you’ll earn the free bet bonus. This bonus can then be used to make subsequent matched bets.

To try this tactic you must first find bookies that offer free bets and then make sure they do not consider matched betting illegal.

Arbitrage Betting

Arbitrage betting is a type of match betting that usually involves wagering on all possible outcomes of an event, but at odds that guarantee a profit. The most common type of arbitrage bet is the same as matched: a back bet and a lay bet.

The main difference between arbitrage and matched betting is that arbitrage bets often involve combining odds so that there’s a negative margin (less than 100%). This results in giving an edge to the gambler, not the bookmaker.

Back & Lay Bets - Betting Exchanges
Back bets and lay bets are offered by the so-called betting exchanges that become largely popular in the past few years. Spend even just five minutes searching online, and you’ll dig up plenty of strategies to make the most of bookmaker’s odds. Most of these systems actually involve some form of placing a back bet (wagering that something will happen) versus a lay bet (wagering that the same thing won’t happen), as noted above.

Hedging is one such tactic and is also where the term ‘hedging your bets’ comes from. It’s also often related to arbitrage betting, in that it’s a form of wagering that’s available at individual betting exchanges.


When someone fixes a sporting event, they take steps to ensure that they get the result they want. For example, a jockey may make sure that his horse never places in the top three until the odds for doing so are very favourable.

Bribery is another way to fix a sport. Illegal drug use is also a way to cheat that’s still rampant in certain areas of sports betting. Fixing is cheating; there are no two ways about it. Unfortunately, as a gambler, there’s very little you can do to stop it happening.

EV Betting

People know this as Expected Value betting, and it is another type of sports betting system you can use. EV betting requires you to calculate the potential bet value and try to determine how much it will give you.

There are different approaches to using this method, but we think one of them is better. You can calculate the value of the bet by multiplying the probability of the different outcomes by the potential loss or return and then sum them up. If the result you get is positive, it means that the bet should be profitable in the long run.

Are any of These Tactics and Systems Recommended?

In short, no. However, to get a better understanding of why certain gambling ‘cheat’ systems are so popular, it’s worth considering the bookmaker’s advantage. However, we’d like to once again point out that the strategies mentioned above can be either legal or illegal depending on the site you bet on. You should carefully read the T&C’s of the betting site to learn how the bookie treats these systems. We recommend you to go through our strategies page and learn all you need to know about well-planned wagering.

The bookmaker’s advantage

It’s a known fact that bookies have the edge because of the difference between the odds and the actual probability. For example, if you had a horse race with five horses, the actual probability of each horse winning would be 20%. Therefore, the odds should be 4/1, or 5.0, for each horse, so the total probability is 100%.

However, in sports betting, these odds would likely be presented as 3/1, or 4.0, bringing the total probability up to 125%. In other words, the extra 25% added by the bookie becomes their edge. This is the over-round, or the ‘vig’ or ‘juice’ as it’s known in the States. You probably understand that a little investigation is a must here. Browse through our chart with bookmakers known for their best odds and choose the ones that suit you.

Betting exchanges vs Betting markets

This is where arbitrage/matched betting comes back into things, as both of these systems seek to even the odds, so to speak. Neither method is recommended unless you are sure it is okay to use it on the site in question. Plus, you will need to do lots of work to get the hang of it.

In other words, you have to have a good, if not in-depth, understanding of betting markets versus betting exchanges, given that you’d need to use both to make the most of these wagering systems.

Whereas a bookmaker offers generally unfavourable odds to make a profit (as mentioned above), betting exchanges allow back and lay bets, often as in-play wagering (during a live sports event). Betting exchanges then make their profit by charging a commission on any winning bets.

Do You Have to Avoid These Systems

Which Strategies to Avoid

It almost goes without saying, but if you enjoy gambling, then you shouldn’t cheat. Plus, you should always be careful if you find a tactic, guide, or system that claims to be ‘no risk’. Gambling is risky so you will need to be responsible.

However, the choice is yours whether you’ll use a tactic that a bookie agree with, or something less savoury. There are two crucial factors to bear in mind, though, should you wish to try your hand at any of these systems.

The first is that in order to really succeed, you’ll need to invest a substantial amount of time to cover all bases.

Many gambling sites, whether it’s a sportsbook or a casino, implement stringent anti-cheat policies. These usually involve asking for verification documents to prove that money is coming from a legal source, as well as investigating infrequent bets consisting of large sums of money.

Even if it’s considered legal, the chance to cheat may seem attractive in the short term. However, keep in mind that many sports betting sites (and brick-and-mortar locations) won’t think twice about either severely limiting your wagering limit, or outright banning you if they suspect that you’re using some kind of gambling cheat.

What’s the Difference between Honest and Dishonest Betting?

On the surface, the answer to this particular question appears straightforward. Honest betting is any wager that’s covered by a bookmaker. Dishonest betting is any kind of bet that works against the established rules.

However, there’s a lot more nuance to these ideas than is first apparent. For example, while honest wagering has pretty clear boundaries, what about if someone makes what they believe to be a legitimate bet when they’re (inadvertently) cheating?

Proving someone’s honesty can be tricky at the best of times, but when you consider how built-in to sports betting cheating is, honesty becomes even harder to confirm. This is especially true when you consider that there are legitimate websites that allow, even encourage, match, and arbitrage betting.

Ultimately, how you choose to gamble is a matter of personal choice. Sports betting should always be about enjoyment, though, for yourself and others. If you want to try your hand at a legal tactic or system, then remember how difficult it can be to succeed. Keep that in mind the next time you place a bet.

Veselin Ignatov
Veselin IgnatovVeselin's primary job is to create unique content, such as reviews and analyses of different bookmakers and other topics from the iGaming industry.