Matched betting with a single set of accounts isn’t illegal.
But things start to get murky once you start opening bookmaker and bank accounts with the names of your ‘friends’.
I’ve received some worried emails from folks who’ve landed themselves in small claims court due to their multi-accounting misadventures.
And whilst no part of this article should be construed as legal advice, it might just prevent you from making a costly blunder.
Because legal or not, ‘
What is ‘Multi-Accounting’ aka ‘Gnoming’?
Multi-accounting – also called ‘gnoming’ – means to hold more than one account with the same bookmaker.
(These ‘duplicate accounts’ are sometimes called ‘named accounts’ or ‘aliases’).
This could be done using your own details, a family member’s, or a friend’s.
For example, you might have a William Hill account in your own name, your brother’s and one of your mate’s.
The clear benefit of matched betting with multiple accounts is the capacity to earn more money by doing each offer several times over.
If someone is making more than £1,500 each month – strictly by cashing out sportsbook bonuses – there’s a fair chance that they’re running several named accounts.
Because consistently banking that amount of money using your own set of bookmaker accounts just isn’t possible in the current matched betting climate anymore.
How Do the Bookmakers Distinguish Between Aliases and Legit Accounts?
Really, it’s up to the bookmaker to decide whether or not a profile is legitimate – or if it’s being operated by someone else.
Whilst far from exhaustive, here are a few techniques they use to try and link named accounts:
- IP analysis to identify accounts being run from the same device;
- Monitoring accounts whose IP addresses keep changing – symptomatic of a VPN (virtual private network) that’s using a dynamic IP;
- Cross-referencing names, addresses, emails and other personal details via their database;
- Using digital fingerprinting technologies provided by fraud management companies to pool data;
- Looking for accounts that exhibit similar betting patterns.
Identifying duplicate accounts may be done as soon as you sign up, after a few days of using the same IP address, or potentially much further down the line – perhaps once your betting patterns have been marked.
How Do Partner Friendly Bookies Factor In?
Some bookmakers claim to be ‘partner friendly’.
This means that they will allow multiple USERS from the same address to each hold a single account in their own name.
Such bookmakers may also allow each user to qualify for their promotions concurrently.
This may present a favourable scenario.
Because you could have the other users set up their accounts and you could ‘show’ them how to each profit from the same offer in turn.
But this rarely happens.
Most bookmakers that allow multiple users per household/IP address will nearly always only allow ONE of those users to claim each offer.
Bookmakers that are NOT partner-friendly may only allow one account per household/IP address.*
How they deal with ‘duplicates’ in such a scenario may vary from brand to brand.
*And when it comes down to it – most bookmakers are not actually partner friendly. Usually, they’ll stop crediting the free bets automatically after a while (if they ever did in the first place) and you’ll then have to chase via Live Chat. And you’ll probably get a premature gubbing for your troubles too!
Network-Linked ‘Multi-Accounting’ – The Hidden Killer
In the past, I’ve been falsely labelled as a ‘multi-accounter’ by a bookmaker because I’ve opened accounts with the other brands that belong to their network.
This isn’t really multi-accounting in the strictest sense – but it can get you gubbed all the same.
Really, it’s just a sly way for a bookmaker to ban you because they’ve got you pegged as a matched bettor on one of their other books.
This probably isn’t going to happen to you with the bigger partners – such as Paddy Power Betfair.*
But it’s worth remembering that such groups can legitimately share data between their brands and potentially identify suspicious behaviour faster.
*Casinos are actually the worst offenders – the Imperium Network Solutions group banned me after signing up to just one of their brands. And I didn’t even dip into the bonus funds!
Is Multi-Accounting Illegal?*
It’s a grey area at best.
But it’s my personal opinion that you’re treading on some very dangerous ground.
In reality, there are levels to the whole thing.
Because to the best of my knowledge, there are no clear laws in the UK that prevent you from betting on someone else’s behalf – as long as you have their permission.
But once you start opening bank accounts in other peoples’ names, logging in, and moving money around – that’s when things start to become very murky indeed.
At the very least, opening and/or operating a betting account using someone else’s details would be considered ‘fraudulent’ in the eyes of the bookmaker.
I’m not a legal professional – so there’s a super-high chance that I could be very wrong. So, if you’re dead-set on multi-accounting, you should probably seek your own legal advice before doing so.
What Are the Potential Risks of Multi-Accounting?
Legal or not, it’s a fact that there are some very costly consequences associated with the practice of matched betting with multiple accounts.
If you do choose to ‘gnome’ with the bookmakers, please keep in mind the following points:
1: The Bookmakers Love Confiscating Your Money
If you’re blatantly multi-accounting, the bookmaker may decide to close all of the linked accounts and keep any funds held in them.
This may include deposits too – not just winnings.
I frequently see forum posts where someone has lost £1,000s when their aliases were linked.
This may have been down to something as ‘slight’ as their true IP address being revealed whilst using a Flash application on the bookmaker’s site – or their VPN tripping out.
We all know that the bookmakers think that they’re Shakespeare when they’re writing their Terms and Conditions.
And at the best of times, they’ll quote the vaguest of clauses if it means they can avoid giving you a bonus or paying out.
But multiple accounts legitimately gives them the green light to keep your money.
2: You Could End Up in Court
It’s unlikely that a bookmaker will go this far.
But I’ve had a few emails from some very worried individuals who’ve found themselves in a legal quandary because the person whose details they’re using has disputed ownership of the ‘winnings’.
I’ve even seen it happen where the multi-accounter has actually brought proceedings against the supplier of the details because the latter party has logged into their [own] bank account and withdrawn some of the matched betting profits.
Such unpleasantness is even more likely to arise when the two parties don’t really know each other that well.
For example, one person had been approached via an unknown individual via Facebook and accepted the proposition for the exchange of their details for an upfront payment.
And when a dispute arose – the legal threats were unholstered without compunction.
3: Friends Get Jealous
It’s quite common for folks who’ve lent their details to the multi-accounter to want a bigger piece of the action as time goes on.
Because that £250 you offered them upfront might not seem like enough once they discover that you’re making £100s each month using their information.
And whether things take a legal turn or not – are you really willing to jeopardise your personal relationships for the sake of matched betting?
4: You Might Have to Pay Tax
Normally, winnings from ‘gambling’ are exempt from tax.
But if matched betting is your only source of income – this might need to be declared.
I’ve also seen it said that profits from multi-accounting are taxable.
But a counter-argument was that the money being passed between accounts could be construed as a gift and would, therefore, be exempt.
To be honest, I don’t really know the answer.
It’s probably best to consult a qualified professional if this scenario applies to yourself.
5: Your Benefits Could Be Affected
Similarly, if you’re claiming benefits and also earning an income from matched betting – your benefits could be affected.
Throw multi-accounting into the mix, and you have a very complex scenario on your hands.
Again, this is beyond my area of expertise – so you’ll need to do your own research.
6: Closed Bank Accounts
It’s not just the bookmakers that’ll shut you down if you’re up to no good.
It’s fairly common for banks to investigate you for ‘money laundering’ if they see what they deem to be ‘suspicious activity’ – usually as a consequence of you passing money between accounts.
I know of one chap that had his current account frozen with all his money in just before Christmas.
This reason alone is enough to put me off multi-accounting.
Conclusion: Should You Be Matched Betting With Multiple Accounts?
Personally, I think the potential cons vastly outweigh the pros.
But ultimately – the choice is yours.
If you do decide to turn to the ‘dark side’ of matched betting – please do your due diligence first.
Otherwise, you could end up in a whole lot of trouble.
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