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Betting Can Save You Money
The new UK government reforms to fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) are set to take place in April 2019. The aim is to minimise the harmful effects of gambling by reducing the maximum stake from £100 to £2. Betting companies and the government itself have criticised the polarising changes. Recovering gambling addict Darren Crocker thinks FOBTs are the tip of the iceberg and all parties should do more to tackle the harmful effects of online gambling.

But the title of this article is How Betting Can Save You Money, so where does that fit in? There are many ways in which betting can help you save rather than lose and they don’t have to involve actual betting companies (more on that later).

Matched Betting
Anyone with a television and a hankering for soap operas will have seen adverts for the best online casinos or betting companies offering in-play odds. Their “welcome offers” entice potential customers to place bets but can be the start of addiction. Unless you're savvy and can guarantee a profit. That’s how matched betting works.

Guides on matched betting are all over the internet but Will Haswell from CasinoCircle came up with a great concept which described betting as a “mathematical strategy used to take advantage of bookmaker offers that give out free bets to new and existing customers.”

You take the bookmakers up on their free bet offers, and use them against each other to guarantee a profit. But it’s important to follow the instructions exactly to avoid losing money and trying to get it back. Matched betting works but bookmakers will always have an edge to make their money back so avoid “risky” bets where the odds don’t match up.

There have been stories of people making thousands a month, even saving up for house deposits. It’s a popular strategy for students who use the money to keep afloat as an alternative to finding part time work. It can take as little as a couple of hours a day and make more than a Saturday shift if you know what you’re doing.

Life Betting
I’ve talked about online betting - how about life betting? It’s something I made up! Here’s how it could work:

You need to save up for something, say a holiday, and you need £700. You might not be proactive when it comes to saving money (I know I’m not). But there are plenty of opportunities in your everyday life to use to build up your holiday fund.

The weather is a good thing to use. You can find chances of rain/sunshine on Google but these are only predictions - so they have a chance of not happening. Say there's a 70% chance of rain on Monday. As a fractional odd, that’s 3/7. In decimal, that would be 1 + 3/7 = 1.43. You decide to put £5 on it raining that day. If it rains, you “win” £5 x 1.43 = £7.15, including the original £5 stake. If it doesn’t rain, you “lose” the £5. In this scenario, the “bookmaker” would be your savings account (I recommend getting one). You can put the £5 in there and add to it if you win. Whether you win or lose, you’ll have at least £5 in the account and that’s a good start.

Of course, with this strategy, you need to actually have the money to bet and save, so this will help with financial control - you can’t bet what you don’t have. It can also help with decision making. An example would be betting on your bus to work being early, late, or on time (much like win-draw-loss in football). Betting on the bus being late and winning is all well and good but it still means you’re late. If it’s often late, the fictional odds would be shorter and you might consider getting an earlier bus next time.

You may choose to “intensify” the odds selection with accumulators or reward yourself with certain spending for every £100 you save. Either way, this can be a fun way to save money and bet without the financial risk.

Monzo: designed to help problem gamblers
Fun and games aside, betting can cause many issues from financial instability to mental health problems. Online bank Monzo has a gambling block built into their system to prevent overspending. It works imilar to betting companies and their self-exclusion mechanisms. Turning the block on is as simple as tapping a button but to prevent unblocking when you feel tempted, this requires talking to a customer support representative and a 48-hour wait.

Monzo say they hope the “added ‘friction’” gives customers time to think before they decide to gamble again. The app also comes with budgeting facilities to show you where your money goes and help with saving.

The BBC published an article last October about a man called Danny who had lost more than £50,000 to gambling before he signed up to Monzo and used their gambling block. He’s now on his way to being debt-free before he turns 30. Monzo’s CEO Tom Blomfield said they included the block into the bank’s services because customer requested it.

Another challenger bank called Starling have a similar feature and they have 460,000 customer accounts as of February this year.

Risks with betting are inescapable. No matter what you choose, you win or you don’t. But the important thing is to mitigate those risks and their consequences.

A way to do this is to switch the mindset of what you do if a bet comes off. It’s possible to save money through the art of betting if you have the right approach. You can try the stricter strategies of matched betting or incentivise your life decisions with life betting. And if you need help recovering from gambling addiction or feel you’re falling into that trap, banks like Monzo and Starling can help with their gambling block mechanisms.

There's also GamCare and Mind, for help with problem gambling and its effects on mental health. Sometimes, you need to save more than money.
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