We’ve all been there. The building anticipation of Christmas, the cautious optimism in your family’s ability to pick out a gift that is both useful and exciting. Maybe it’s just me, but the outcome is about as easy to predict as the lottery numbers.

You could almost say that receiving presents from your family at Christmas is a bit of a ‘gamble’! Worry not though because that is where the similarities end, for this slightly clunky metaphor compares Christmas presents to gambling. For one, I love my family and I can safely say I’ve no similar feelings towards bookmakers!

However, what if you could always know the outcome? What if you knew every gift you were getting and, more importantly, adjust things to ensure an outcome that best suited you? Sure, you could say that it removes the excitement from the experience, because the ‘not knowing’ is half the fun. Then, again I haven’t met many people who thought it was exciting or fun to not get what you were expecting.

This, really is gambling in a nut shell, except the consequences of not getting what you expect are a lot more dire than a pair of socks you’ll never wear. Gambling addiction though, is no laughing matter and not one we want to make light of in this article. In fact, Christmas metaphors aside, gambling or gambling tendencies are starting to worm their way into more aspects of our lives than we perhaps realise.

A perfect example of gambling entering our lives in new ways is the recent storm surrounding EA (Electronic Arts) and their loot box controversy in the recently released game, Star Wars Battlefront 2. That’s right, a game, the thing we play for a bit of escapism and to relax now has gambling mechanics baked into it. These gambling mechanics manifest themselves as something called ‘Loot Boxes’.

Loot boxes can be purchased in-game, using real money and each one will provide you with a selection of rewards that vary in their usefulness and rarity. Now, if this sounds terrifyingly similar to a slot machine, that’s because it is. There is no guarantee of what you will get from these loot boxes – customer A could pay £5 for 3 loot boxes and get nothing of value, but customer B could spend the same amount on the same number of boxes but instead get a rare item in all three boxes.  Much like slot machines, it is designed to entice and infuriate all at the same time, but most importantly, it is designed to keep you coming back for more.

Let us lighten the mood a little more by asking the question, wouldn’t it be nice if you always knew the outcome and there was never a catch? Wouldn’t it be lovely to play a game, safe in the knowledge you weren’t simply playing a giant slot machine? Wouldn’t it be slightly better to know that Gran had got you what you hoped for this Christmas rather than a jumper with a giant reindeer on the front?

Well, there is something out there that not only guarantees you a positive outcome. But also makes you some money and sticks the middle finger up to companies who feed off gambling addiction. The name of this mysterious thing is, Matched Betting!

Now please, before you call this article hypocritical given what the first half of it talked about, first let me explain what Matched Betting is. Matched Betting is the use of mathematics rather than chance. The idea behind the maths is to convert, the free bets that are offered to new and existing customers by UK bookmakers, into profit, without risking your own money. The process differs from regular ‘gambling’ because nothing is left to chance: you use betting exchanges to cover any losing bookmaker bets and matched betting calculators ensure that you make a profit from the free bet – no matter the result.

At this point you may be thinking, that this is all well and good but, I need more of an example to wrap my head around this. This is perfectly reasonable. Matched Betting is not an easy concept to grasp at first, but when you understand it (like everything) you’ll wonder why you found it so hard to understand in the first place. So, let’s give you a quick example.

A Bookmaker is offering new customers a £20 free bet when they place a £5 bet of their own money. By using Matched Betting, we remove any risk your £5 bet could lose. This is because we match our first £5 bet with the bookmaker with a £5 bet at a betting exchange on the opposite outcome. So, for example, we have Chelsea v Newcastle on Saturday, we’d bet £5 on Chelsea to win in the bookmaker, and £5 on Chelsea not to win on the betting exchange. As we have bet on both outcomes, regardless of whether Chelsea win, draw or lose, we will neither win nor lose money. However, we have received the £20 free bet, which could be used the following day for Man City v West Ham! We now make a profit by repeating this process but this time using the free bet.

So, will Matched Betting make you rich? No. Will it give you an adrenaline rush like Star Wars Battlefront 2’s loot boxes? No. Will it stop my Gran from getting me socks for Christmas? Also, no (but I still say thanks). What it will do is make you between £500 – £1000 per month. Allowing you to buy games not published by EA, Pizza, massive bags of pasta, alcohol and just about everything that would otherwise use up your precious student loan!

Interested in trying out Matched Betting? Then use the links below for a free trial or use the discount code unique to the Student Pocket guide to get your first month full access for just £1 (less than a loot box).

Click here for the Heads&Heads free trial


Use special code: HH-SPG90 to get your first months premium membership for just £1