It goes without saying that matched betting is the least of our worries right now. Our priorities should be to stay safe during the Coronavirus pandemic and help loved ones, however long it may last. Coronavirus has affected a number of industries and gambling is no exception. In this post I’ll explain how matched betting is being affected and what our options are moving forward.
What is the current situation?
At the time of writing in early April 2020, the government have introduced social distancing measures and banned mass gatherings. This means that almost all sport in the UK has been suspended for the foreseeable future.
It’s hoped that the domestic football season can be completed when it’s safe to do so. Other events like the World Snooker Championship have been postponed until hopefully later in the year.
Sadly, some events that are largely dependent on favourable British weather like Wimbledon (tennis) and The Open Championship (golf) have been cancelled.
Euro 2020 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were both due to take place this summer. They will now take place next year instead.
Can we still do matched betting?
The short answer is yes, though obviously there’s a bit more to it than that.
In the absence of mainstream sports, the bookies are adapting their strategies and we need to do the same.
What can we place our bets on?
Football and horse racing are the two most popular sports for matched betting. Premier League football and UK and Irish horse racing are currently suspended, but we do have other options.
Football is still being played in certain parts of the world like Belarus and Nicaragua and horse racing is continuing in Australia, Japan and the United States. Whether or not this will continue over the coming weeks remains to be seen.
There are some other sports like table tennis still taking place, but where possible it’s probably best to stick to football and horse racing.
Esports and Virtual sports are big at the moment and are featuring in a number of bookmaker offers.
If you’re not familiar with Esports, these are competitions where players compete online using video games like FIFA or League of Legends.
You’ll find Virtual sports on most bookmaker sites and these are electronic games that imitate real sports. For example, the Virtual Grand National 2020 that was shown by ITV, following cancellation of the main event.
What offers can we still do?
Sign up offers are the ideal place to start. Even if you’re a seasoned matched bettor, the chances are there are a few offers you’ve not tackled yet.
I’ve recently added a number of new offers to the ‘New Customer Offers‘ page, so it’s definitely worth a look to see if there are any offers you’re missing.
You’ll need to read the terms of each offer thoroughly and be selective with your offers. Free bet offers like ‘Bet £10, Get £30’ and most risk-free offers are still fine.
Just be wary of any bonus offers with large wagering requirements. Under normal circumstances it would be fine to tackle those offers, but with limited sports to bet on and some obscure ones at that, you don’t want to risk getting stuck in the middle of wagering.
Weekly Free Bet Clubs are still continuing, so be sure to keep doing those offers each week.
I’ll keep posting any reload offers on the main blog page as always. If any Esports offers pop up over the coming weeks, we can lay those off at the exchanges.
The only offers we can’t lay off are Virtual sports, but that doesn’t mean we should necessarily avoid them. Whilst they’re not ‘matched betting’ opportunities, they still often represent ‘advantage play’ with a positive expected value. This means we might make losses in the short-term, but over time, the law of averages says we’ll make a profit.
Are we more likely to get gubbed?
The subject of gubbing has always been one that’s up for debate, with no concrete answers.
Personally, I don’t see an issue with betting on some of the more obscure markets at the moment as regular punters who like a flutter will be doing the same.
All I would say, is if you have a choice between Belarusian and Nicaraguan football, you should probably opt for Belarusian, with it being the more high profile of the two. The same goes for horse racing. Just stick to US racing where possible.
There’s an argument that says bookmakers might be a little more lenient with restrictions at the moment as they need punters to be placing bets now more than ever.
It’s even possible that some bookmakers might selectively lift some account restrictions in the hope that customers will return to place bets, though we’ll have to wait and see on that one.
When will things return to normal?
It’s impossible to say exactly when things will return to normal.
I think we can safely say that when sport returns in the UK, it will be behind closed doors for a long while before spectators are allowed to attend. At least from a matched betting perspective though, that means things will start to move in the right direction again.
It seems quite likely that we won’t see any UK sports action until June/July at the earliest. Anything earlier would be a bonus, provided it’s safe to do so.
My plans during the restrictions
Whilst the last few weeks have been quieter, it’s given me a chance to get caught up on things behind the scenes and plan for the next few months.
Some of you might have noticed that I’ve recently added a Dutching Calculator and Early Payout Calculator to the site. The dutching calculator should come in handy when the tennis Grand Slams return and the early payout calculator is perfect for simplifying 2UP offers when the football returns.
There are plenty more features and improvements in the pipeline, which should help us hit the ground running again once the restrictions are lifted.
Stay safe everyone!
UPDATE: Thursday 7th May 2020
Horse racing returns in Germany today with action at Hannover. There’s also action at Longchamps on Monday as French horse racing resumes. It’s hoped that UK and Irish horse racing will be also able to resume behind closed doors at some point soon.
In addition to the horse racing, football is also returning in Germany. The Bundesliga will resume on Saturday 16th May 2020. No decision has been made yet on whether or not the Premier League will play to a conclusion. It’s currently hoped that the season can restart in June and finish in July.
These are certainly positive developments and will hopefully bring an increase in the offers available.
UPDATE: Friday 29th May 2020
Horse racing in the UK is set to restart on Monday 1st June 2020 with a meeting at Newcastle. The British Horseracing Authority have proposed a gradual return that includes 18 meetings across the first 8 days.
Premier League football is also set to return in June. Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Man City v Arsenal are planned for Wednesday 17th June 2020. There will need to be 6 weekend and 3 midweek rounds of fixtures, in order to meet a provisional end date of Saturday 25th July 2020.
The above announcements are pending official Government confirmation but there’s no reason at the moment to think they won’t go ahead. Onwards and upwards!
UPDATE: Monday 22nd June 2020
Royal Ascot 2020 ran successfully behind closed doors last week and UK & Irish horse racing is now back in full flow with 4-5 meetings each day.
Premier League football is also back with a staggered fixture list that means there are matches most days. Most other sports now have plans in place for the return of action, if it hasn’t already.
The bookmakers certainly appear to be making up for lost time with plenty of offers flying around! Further restrictions are still a possibility, but hopefully there’s no further disruption to the sporting calendar for 2020.
Stay safe everyone.
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Matt Kirman – Matched Betting Blogger
Since 2014, I’ve blogged over £70,000 worth of profit, and made it my mission to make matched betting accessible to everyone.