Can you really Fix The Odds for a no-risk bet?
Student offers are everywhere in September, but one such tempting advert couaght our eye last week. FixTheOdds.com were advertising on a student site, claiming students should gamble their student loan betting with them as it was 100% risk-free. Now, we thought student loans were to enable poor empoverished teenagers to buy
fags and booze textbooks and baked beans rather than to spend on gambling so we thought we'd find out what it was all about.
The premise behind the site is simple. The betting is 'risk-free' because you bet on and against whatever it is you are betting on. For example, if you bet that Swansea would win their next match, you also bet against Swansea winning their next match as a 'lay' bet. However, to actual make some money, the scheme relies on matched betting- free betting money given to you by bookies when you sign up to bet with them. You make a pair of bets at a small loss to get the free bet, then you use the free bet to make some money. People could make £440 in two weeks, according to site developer, Carl Scott-Brown.
Now, when something sounds too good to be true, smells too good to be true and tastes too good to be true, it is clearly something we ought to investigate. So we did.
We signed up for the FixTheOdds service and selected the top 'offer' which promised an average return of 140%. The lay bookie is always Betfair (which is how the site makes its money, through this arrangement with Betfair rather than charging you for the service) and the freebet bookie was PaddyPower who were offering a free £20 if you bet £10 with them.
So we set up our accounts and duly deposited £10 with PaddyPower. The system then did the tricky and clever bit to search through all the possible bets on PaddyPower and Betfair to come up with a matching pair. The first bet we were prompted to do (Mineros v Cerro porteno in the Copa Sudamericano) would have generated a loss of 35p, but we were unable to actually place this bet- their system may have been able to find the bets on PaddyPower, but we were unable to. The next suggested bets were all in 3 or 4 days time, so in the interests of expediency we went for a combination that would give us a 95p loss but would be settled the following day.
So we bet £10 at 3:1 with PaddyPower that Columbus would beat Philadelphia in the MLS North American Soccer League. We then bet £20.95 with Betfair against Columbus winning. In the end, Columbus did win, so we lost the £20.95 and spent £10, but won £30, meaning we had an overall loss of 95p. But we now had a £20 free bet with PaddyPower.
So we followed the FixTheOdds system again. However, despite repeated times at different times of the day, the top opportunity with a guaranteed profit of over £48 did not work. This time we could find the bet, but the odds quoted on the PaddyPower site were far below those stated on the FixTheOdds site. Clearly betting with lower odds would mean the skilfully calculated lay bet would not guarantee a profit. Also, earning this profit required further betting of over £140, over £120 of this of your own money.
This non-existent bet was also the only bet showing that gave a profit of over £16. Most bets generated a profit of between £12-15 pounds, but required additional betting of £60-100 cash. The settlement date was also up to 6 days in advance. We don't know about you, but £12 return for lots of messing about and tying up lots of your money for lots of days doesn't seem like the best prospect to us.
Still, it's all risk-free isn't it? So if you do have oodles of spare time and spare cash why not give it a whirl. It's not like you could get addicted to gambling right? Oh, wait.
And is it risk-free? The small print of their guarantee said that if you followed the instructions precisely and lost money, they would refund you, on production of screenshots. So we asked them about it, concerned in case the guarantee only worked if you took a screenshot of everything you did all the way through. Fortunately this is not the case and they confirmed that they would only ask for screenshots of your PaddyPower and Betfair betting accounts to confirm you had, in fact, followed the instructions. So far, so fair enough.
However, we also checked out the Terms and Conditions of PaddyPower's freebet. The terms specifically state that “If any of the terms are breached or there is evidence that customers are using free bets or other promotional offers to guarantee profits regardless of the outcome we reserve the right to void free bets or any bets funded by bonuses" Hmm. So would FixTheOdds guarantee apply if Paddy Power voided your freebet ?
“In a nutshell; no" said a FixTheOdds spokesman, as “ the bookies really only do this is they have good reason to believe Identity Fraud has occurred, as with our system of matched betting the bookie cannot confirm that any sort of “bonus abuse" as they call it is actually occurring". However, they did say that they could use their affiliate muscle to “leverage" bookies as in the “rare occasions this has occurred historically". FixTheOdds were also at pains to point out that they have lots of satisfied customers and that someone from William Hill, an entirely different and separate bookies, said: “There's no illegal element. It's a free bet and you can do what you like."
So it's up to you. Tie up lots of your money for a while in order to make a small profit that may or may not be guaranteed, or don't. It's your call.