I’m interested in sports betting purely as a way to make a few dollars with my otherwise idle poker bankroll. I’m particularly interested in arbitrage opportunities and bonus chasing. I believe that it is possible (and I think this may be conservative) to earn 1% on my sports wagering bankroll every other week after I’ve fully exhausted the bonus opportunities. In my more optimistic moments, I think I could do it weekly. When I compare the 0% NeTeller is paying me in interest and the 3% offered by my bank, 26% or 52% looks pretty darn good to me.
As an attorney, my lovely bride spends most of her time anticipating any possible way that things could go wrong and she and I have brainstormed the dangers of this pastime extensively. As best we can figure, here are the potential dangers in this game:
1) Financial collapse of a sportsbook while holding my money. This seems like the biggest risk to us. These sportsbooks are operating in a legal grey area, so they could scam you out of your money with very little recourse available to you. Moreover, they are in a highly risky business and it is almost impossible to obtain trustworthy information about their capitalization and business sense in running a profitable sportsbook. Because your goal is usually to win all your money into one book, they can end up holding a whole lot of money and it would be tragic if they didn’t handle your cashout. I’m mitigating this risk by doing a lot of homework first. I check Sportsbook Review and The Offshore Wire for reviews and have stuck thus far to the top rated books in both places. I also scan the popular message boards for any discussion of slow paying or bad experiences with a particular site. Its not perfect, but I’m semi-comfortable with this approach. If something goes terribly wrong, this is what I think it will be
2) One thinks of my style of wagering as pretty much risk-free, but there are a few ways you could screw it up. You could inadvertantly bet the same side twice instead of betting both sides of a contest or you could make a data entry error on one of the sites and not bet the proper offsetting amounts on each side. This would put you in the position of actually gambling on the outcome of the event, which clearly involves risk. I’ve already made one mistake that is a variation on this. I thought I was betting at a site that would reimburse 10% of my losses and I factored that into my balancing equation only to learn that the fine print excluded me from getting the 10% back. This cost me almost $400 — but the bonus that they paid more than made up for the mistake. I’m still very, very careful when I enter the numbers and calculate the proper bet amounts, but there is some risk that I will eventually get sloppy as I get more comfortable playing this game.
3) An event could cancel under the rules of one site (a one day postponement due to weather, for instance) and still be valid under the terms of the other site. This could again cause you to be making an at-risk wager on an evernt where you didn’t intend to do so. If you are careful and make the offsetting bet later, even if it means locking in a loss, you can protect against this danger.
4) If you don’t pay close attention to the betting limits, a site might retroactively reduce your wager and leave you with an at-risk situation. Most of the top rated sites will alert you at the time you place the bet and not accept a wager that exceeds their limits, but I’ve read some horror stories of sites that change your wager after the fact. The worst stories involve sites that reduce your wager after you win, but take your stake when you lose. Careful research should avoid those sites, but you should also read the rules at each site carefully and try to make the right wagers. I have a spreadsheet with each sites bonus terms and wager limits that I refer to all the time.
Finding appropriate betting opportunities costs some effort and you won’t find suitable ones every time you look, but when you do find them it can be like free money. The Internet was abuzz today with various opportunites to get $0.25 scalps on the Rose Bowl tonight. This equated to a 3% return on your money, which is crazy. Sadly, because I had to work late I didn’t get in on any of that action.
I’m a pretty cautious guy and I’m convinced that this is going to be a profitable venture. I’ve also found a few angles that seem like they will assure an even higher rate of return, that I’m not yet prepared to post in “public.” Drop me an email if you decide to get into sportsbetting and I’ll dish.