So you’ve made a bit of easy money from the matched betting sign-up offers, and you’re running out of easy offers to do. And now you’re wondering, could I just use a friend’s account to do matched betting?
Almost everyone ends up asking this question. And the answer is, it’s complicated. It is definitely against the terms & conditions of most bookmakers, but is it illegal?
Simply ‘Not Allowed’ or “Illegal”?
Bookmakers don’t allow “Gnoming” or “Multiple Accounting.” In fact, most companies won’t allow more than one person from a single household to receive the free bets they offer. But this is where the line becomes very grey. Some bookmakers do allow for a degree of “partner-based” bets and almost all of them say they honour bets placed by a third party.
If they discover that you are using someone else’s account to claim a free bet, they are within their rights to keep any winnings from that free bet. You might think that is a fine risk to take, but remember that with matched betting, your winnings will be offset by losses from the bets you’ve placed at Betfair. Meaning that if the winnings are taken you have made a loss.
That is a risk many people are willing to take. They might lose money, but that is the risk of doing business.
But if it is illegal your risk goes from just ‘I might lose some money’ to ‘I might go to jail’.
Is it illegal to use a friend’s account to do matched betting?
I far as I can see, there has been no case of someone making money from matched betting gnoming going to jail. There is one interesting case that I will talk about at the end.
But just because no-one has been tried, doesn’t make it legal.
The following is just my results from research, I am not a lawyer so take this with a pinch of salt.
If it is illegal in the UK, it will be because of the fraud laws:
There are two items under the fraud act that may be relevant: fraud by false representation and fraud by failing to disclose information.
A person commits fraud by false representation if he:
- Dishonestly makes a false representation (i.e. one which is known by the person making it to be untrue or misleading and the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading); and
- Intends, by making the representation:
- to make a gain for himself or another; or
- to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss
A person commits fraud by failing to disclose information if he:
- Dishonestly fails to disclose to another person information which he is under a legal duty to disclose; and
- intends by failing to disclose the information:
- to make a gain for himself or another, or
- to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.
So how do we interpret these laws? I would say it really depends on what exactly you mean by using a friend’s account to do matched betting.
You make up a fake person. And create an account in their name using your money in order to make money from the bonus. You create a fake passport in photoshop in order to get the money.
I would say this is definitely fraud. You lied at the beginning by creating a fake name, and you made a false passport in photoshop.
You borrow someone’s passport, create an account in their name. Use your own money to deposit and claim the bonus. Keep all the profits to yourself.
I would say that is probably fraud. It is actually your account, they have no access to it, you are signing up and claiming to be them, and you are keeping the money. You are making a false representation for profit.
I do think there is an argument here that it is legal. You are gambling so there is no guarantee of profit. Plus the offer is one per person, regardless of who did the creating, the bookie still only gives out one bonus.
But if I was you I wouldn’t risk it.
You tell someone about matched betting. You sit with them as they sign up. You lend them some money. You find the offers, tell them about it. They deposit and place the bets. You split the profits.
I would say that is completely 100% legal. It is their account. They are in control of it at all times. They benefit from it. In fact not only is this legal, but it also obeys all the bookie’s terms and conditions.
Your friend signs up to a bookie. You lend them money and they deposit to the bookie. They then give you the login details to their account and you place the bets. You then split the profit.
I would say that this is legal. At no point have you claimed to be your friend. It is still their account, they are in control but have given you temporary control over it. They are benefiting from the matched betting.
Now there are many variations between these four. But as you can see, it all depends on what you mean by using your friend’s account to do matched betting.
Some Further Warnings
Your IP Address Matters
A lot of bookies have in their terms and conditions that the bonus is one per IP address. That means that if you claimed a bonus at your house. And then someone else comes round to your house and tries to claim the same bonus, the bookie is in their right to deny it.
YOUR Physical ADDRESS MATTERS
A lot of bookies have in their terms and conditions that the bonus is one per postal address. That means that if you are living in a student house and claimed a bonus. And then another student in the same house tries to claim the same bonus, the bookie is in their right to deny it.
2015 Darren Woods
The only legal case that I could find that is remotely similar to using a friend’s account to do matched betting, is the 2015 case of Darren Woods who was jailed for 15 months for fraud after making about £1 million for using different people’s names to play poker.
He would use multiple accounts to play the same table which gave him a large advantage over other players.
The judge said:
“In individual games, other people playing against you stood to lose money because the odds had been rigged in your favor by the creation of multiple identities which were undisclosed to other players,” Judge Watson said in court. “Cheating undermines confidence in the recreational gambling industry. Those who might choose to gamble recreationally may be deterred if the system is unfairly balanced in favor of other players by such conduct as yours.”
The case is very different from matched betting. As the judge said, he was defrauding other players by cheating and giving himself an unfair advantage. I think that most people would agree he was doing something wrong. I don’t know all the details, but it was revealed he also used false documents.
You might want to read up more about the case.
DISCLAIMER: None of the information herein may be interpreted as advice from a legal practitioner. If you want to use a friend’s account to do matched betting, I suggest you speak to a legal professional.