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Can Sports Betting Be Profitable?


sports betting profits graph

Whether you’re just starting out with sports betting, or you’ve been dabbling in it for a little while, at some point you’re going to ask yourself, can sports be profitable for me over the long term? Maybe you’re not a bettor (yet), but you follow your favorite sports, love watching the games, and are intrigued at the idea of turning your sports knowledge into cash. 


Most sports bettors get into it casually. They just want a little more excitement while watching games. They win some, they lose some, and, for most, it’s not really profitable. It’s just for fun–like playing a game while watching a game. But for others, they want to try and turn one of their favorite hobbies and pastimes into a consistent money making opportunity. For that, you have to move beyond relying on pure luck. You have to approach it like a business. It’s not easy, but there are strategies you can implement to help make you profitable in the long run. 


What does “profitable” mean for sports bettors?


When we ask the question, “can sports betting be profitable?”, it’s important to understand what we mean. We aren’t talking about hitting a jackpot or being able to quit your day job on day one. We’re talking about the ability to receive a positive return on your initial investment and win more money than you bet in the first place. If you can consistently do that, then you will be profitable over the long run and may be able to create a significant extra income stream. 


We can’t tell you how much money you can expect to make, because that really depends on your specific bankroll, how much you are betting, and the odds of specific bets. But, as an example, the experienced sports bettors who use DoubleDown Odds earn an average daily ROI of 2%. 


But to achieve a consistent return like that, you have to place the right kinds of bets and put the best strategies in place. Let’s take a look at what some of those are. 


Can sports betting be profitable: Make the right kinds of bets 


If you want to move beyond being a casual sports bettor and start building an income stream, then there are certain betting strategies that you have to follow, including matched betting, arbitrage betting, and live betting. 


Matched betting - If you’re a newer sports bettor, then matched betting is really where you want to start. Basically, it’s when you take advantage of promotions like sign up offers, deposit matches, bonus bets, profit boosts, and others to wager on both outcomes of a bet. You place one bet using the promotion (which is free money), then you place another wager at a different sportsbook as a hedge bet. The bets are matched in a way that guarantees profit, because you’re wagering on both sides, but only using your actual money on one side. 


If you are interested in learning more about matched betting, we recommend checking out DarkHorse Odds. They have a lot of resources for newer sports bettors and their tool is designed specifically for pre-game matched betting, offering a very large selection of sportsbooks and matched bet types.


After getting your feet wet, if you are willing to step up your risk a little bit, you can get better matched betting conversions using our tool and betting the promotions live. For example, with pre-game betting, you can expect to convert a bonus bet at 60% - 70%, but with live betting, you could achieve 75% - 85%. That means you can turn a $100 bonus bet into $75 or $85 instead of $60 or $70. 


+EV betting - +EV betting, or Positive Expected Value betting, is when you find odds that are better than the actual probability of the event happening and can be profitable in the long run. This type of betting is not for the faint of heart, though, because you have to look at odds across different sportsbooks and find and calculate the correct bets. It takes a lot of work and, in the short term, you may lose money. However, with enough bets over the long term, this method can be profitable. 


DoubleDown Odds calculates EV percentage on the fly for live betting to take some of the work and burden off your shoulders. We are currently working on an article that will dive deeper into +EV betting and how it relates to live betting. 


To get started with +EV betting, click here for a great free resource


Arbitrage betting - Arbitrage betting is similar to matched betting in that you are wagering on both outcomes of a bet, but the two are distinct strategies. Whereas matched betting relies on promotional offers from sportsbooks, arbitrage betting takes advantage of odds discrepancies between different sportsbooks. You place bets when odds exist that guarantee a profit, regardless of the outcome. Because you are betting on all possible outcomes, with the right odds and betting amounts, you are going to earn a profit (assuming there are no technical errors or human mistakes). 


Live betting - Live betting means wagering on sports while the game is in play instead of before the game starts. Live and arbitrage betting go hand in hand, because the constantly shifting odds will often present arbitrage opportunities between different sportsbooks. Pre-game arbitrage opportunities do exist, but they disappear quickly and are difficult to take advantage of; or the arbitrage exists on small markets like alt player props and making any tangible amount of profit will likely get your account limited rather quickly. If you are going to try arbitrage betting, then it’s best to do so live (also called in-play or in-game betting). Live betting also helps you avoid beating the Closing Line Value, which will help keep you from being limited by sportsbooks. Limits can seriously cut into your ability to be profitable, so click here for tips on avoiding them.


Matched betting is great if you receive promotions from a sportsbook. To build and maintain profitability over the long term, however, you will most likely have to move beyond matched betting to arbitrage betting. The reason is that your offers may dry up and you won’t have any promotions to take advantage of. The combination of live and arbitrage betting allows you to earn guaranteed profits, even if you haven’t received any offers. 


To be profitable, you need the best tools 


Seeking out arbitrage betting opportunities can be a little intimidating and a lot of work if you aren’t using the right tools. That’s why we created DoubleDown Odds. Our tool pulls odds from different sportsbooks as soon as they are updated (usually within 200ms) and alerts you when an arbitrage betting opportunity presents itself between two books. Plus, it will pre-calculate wager amounts on both sides of the bet, so you don’t have to waste time making calculations. 


Another feature of our tool that is extremely useful is our profitability threshold setting. Based on your bankroll and level of comfortability, you can set a minimum profitability threshold, so you will only be alerted to arbitrage betting opportunities that meet or exceed that threshold. 


Be patient! 


Even when you’re placing the right kinds of bets, it’s important to be patient. Profitable sports bettors are marathon runners, not sprinters. Have patience to make smart bets, let your bankroll grow over time, and not go for the big score. Patience means waiting for the right opportunities, so you can be profitable in the long run. 


Can sports betting be profitable? YES! 


Sports betting can 100% be profitable if you take the right steps and make the right kinds of bets. At the end of the day, it requires moving beyond just betting based on emotion (a.k.a on your favorite team) and just being a casual sports bettor. You have to sign up for multiple books, be on the lookout for opportunities, and purchase the tools you need to make making money easier. 


If you’re just starting out, then head over to DarkHorse Odds to begin with matched betting. If you’re ready to move beyond pre-game matched betting to strategies that are more conducive to long term profitability, then see how our tool works here


You can also join our discord to get the latest knowledge on tips and strategies being implemented by our users to increase their profitability. 


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