Why is Matched Betting Bad?
This article was first published on Mouthy Money, but I have updated and added extra words and pictures to this post.
There was a time when my blog was not generating enough cash. Way back in my first year of running it as a full-time job I made very little money. I made £5,000 in sales, so once you took off business costs there was little profit to pay myself with.
A good thing perhaps to not focus heavily on monetising the blog. The beginning was all about creating content and lots of it. But I also needed to pay the bills.
I write Mrs Mummypenny to share valuable information with my readers to save them money, but also, lets face reality, its my business and it makes me money. The income is very much needed to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. And I am not talking small fry, I live in Hertfordshire with my three boys, my income needs to be in the thousands not hundreds.
I Needed Money
Back in 2016 I discovered matched betting as a way to generate extra cash at a time when I really needed money. And I did really need money. My business was not making the cash I needed to pay the bills and I was slowly building up debt to maintain the monthly outgoings.
I did my research and read all about it from others (bloggers) who had done it. I joined Facebook groups to learn strategies and methods. The temptation was big, the quick wins, the ease of earning, and so many people were doing it.
It seemed so easy: a risk free, tax free way to make easy money. I spent a couple of months learning the ropes and trying it out. I made a few mistakes that did cost me money but overall I made a profit of around £2,000. Wonderful!
Matched betting is mostly based around football and horse racing, but once you have exhausted those offer there are LOTS of casino offers to tempt you in and ‘could’ make you some money.
What got me hooked
It was the casino offers that got me. The flashing graphics, the exciting games and the buzz of a win or the hope of a win. I can still think of the excitement of getting a bonus spin and the potential of the money you could win. By this time I was being bombarded with marketing offers. As part of matched betting you sign up to so many gambling companies and they get you everywhere, email, social media, even TV advertising and in the post.
I am going to be cynical and say that these sites hook you in with an initial win. Of course, they are meant to be based on luck and unbiased, but really? These sites are a highly profitable commercial model – they count on people coming back time and time again after getting their initial free bet and the buzz of a win. And those people carry on betting and betting, small amount first, getting bigger and bigger.
The Buzz of Winning
I remember signing up to one casino site, Casumo is the one, I still see their ads now, 4 years later chasing me. It was a risk-free offer – set up an account to get a free £10 bet. I remember winning £300 on a slot machine game very quickly. Wow this was the easiest £300 I had ever gotten, and that was it I was hooked.
Once you win money you have to adhere to rules and roll over the winnings many times (10, 15, 30 times maybe) before you can withdraw it from your account. This just prolongs the time playing the game, hooking you in further and further. I followed the roll over rules and was able to transfer a nice chunk of winnings. £300 in my pocket!!
I worked my way through the risk-free offers for the casino sites and could feel myself being dragged into the world of online casino gambling further and further.
That site Casumo, the site that follows me now, were so clever at hooking me in. There were regular bonus offers, free spins, competitions, games that were fun. And I started to deposit my own money and play the games with real money.
Online comparison made it worse
To make things worse, I was part of an online community with many members who would write about matched betting and there would be the occasional slot machine win from a group member splashed across social media. These added to the addiction and the hope that if it could happen to them it could happen to me as well.
I did my best to keep track of the losses and wins. Of course there were more losses than wins and I found myself chasing the wins. I would wait until everyone in the house had gone to bed to play the games so nobody could see what I was doing. I was depositing £30 each day which went up to £50 as time progressed. It was embarrassing, it was my dirty secret that I didn’t want anyone to know about.
It was an addiction that when combined with my seasonal affective disorder had the potential of becoming very expensive. I was playing the Casumo slots in Nov/Dec 2016 and again in Nov/Dec 2017.
I didn’t gamble the house away but it certainly cost me around £1,000 in total. £1,000 that I did not have!
It had to end
December 2017 was when it had to end. I came clean and admitting to a friend my ‘dirty secret’ and she said very plainly and simply, it had to stop. There was one final biggish win of around £300. I felt that I had made back enough of what I had lost and I was never going to gamble again. I stopped at that point and have never been back to those sites again.
These companies continued to bombard with me with advertising, particularly via text. But I slowly blocked them one by one. And eventually stopped my addiction.
I have an addictive personality, in the past I have had issues with food, spending money, buying beanie babies. I should have known that matched betting could lead to this gambling addiction.
Do not Go Near it
Hence my advice to anyone trying matched betting, thinking about it. Do not go near it, if you have this type of personality, if you feel like you must chase your losses. I managed to stop my addiction after losses of hundreds rather than thousands, but I can easily see how it could have been much worse.