A betting exchange allows punters to bet against each other, as opposed to a sportsbook, through which you wager against fixed odds set by a bookmaker. In this article, we list the best betting exchange sites available, detail a few tips and strategies, and give a detailed comparison of betting exchanges and sportsbooks.
- What Is a Betting Exchange?
- Best Betting Exchanges for Backing & Laying in 2023
- Best Sports Betting Exchange Sites in the UK – Reviewed
- Backing and Laying Calculator
- How To Choose a Betting Exchange
- Best Betting Exchange Offers
- Risks and Rewards of UK Betting Exchanges
- Betting Exchange Trading Tips and Strategies
- Betting Exchanges vs Sportsbooks
- Best Betting Exchanges FAQs
- ThePuntersPage Final Say
What Is a Betting Exchange?
A betting exchange is a platform that enables punters to bet on events and markets against each other, as opposed to against a bookmaker's sportsbook with fixed odds. This comes at a small commission charged by the site itself, which rarely comes close to your traditional sportsbook overround. The latter can easily be as high as 110%, meaning you typically get objectively more competitive odds.
The markets are not simply priced by the bookmaker, but by many hundreds or even thousands of bets being placed. Put simply, it’s the quantity of customers who are back betting and lay betting that helps determine the odds. What do these two terms mean exactly, you might be asking? Well, you are either betting on something to happen (“back betting”) or betting on something not to happen (“lay betting”).
As you can see, betting exchanges are actually pretty simple in concept. Read on to see just how user-friendly they can be!
How To Use a Betting Exchange – A General Guide
Using a betting exchange is a simple process, one that is no more complicated than wagering on a traditional sportsbook. First and foremost, you simply sign up to the betting exchange you would like to join by entering their betting site or betting exchange app.
You will then be asked to enter your personal and financial information, which will be securely held by the operator in question with the most stringent of measures in place.
A deposit will then be required to transfer funds into your account. Take care with the amount you place, as a certain threshold may have to be reached to qualify for the welcome bonus. Be sure to read the terms and conditions of any welcome bonus you claim beforehand.
Once you have signed up to the betting exchange of your choice, you will then be able to place your bets. Unlike most traditional betting sites, the exchange odds will be represented as a decimal value. Don’t worry though – understanding odds is easy enough, and if you’re unsure, your potential returns should be made clear before confirmation.
Although there will be many different markets across many different sports available, your choice should ultimately come down to whether you wish to place a back bet or a lay bet. In other words, whether you think the outcome suggested will or will not occur.
TIP: To ensure a risk-free approach, you should pick markets with odds that are dropping. The odds on offer at a betting exchange for a particular market are updated on a second-by-second basis, so you should follow the change in the odds as carefully as you can.
- How Back Bets Work
Placing a Back Bet
You win if Liverpool wins, just as you would have had you bet on the same outcome on a traditional sportsbook. It’s how the markets are determined, and who you are betting against, that distinguishes an exchange from a fixed-odds platform.
In terms of how it works on a practical level, it couldn’t be simpler. Here’s a very quick breakdown of how to place a back bet.
- Sign up to the site if you haven’t already.
- Make a deposit.
- Select the sport and event you wish to bet on.
- Click on “back” next to the selection you are interested in. You should be able to select your stake at this time (some bookies may have you press the odds yourself).
- Confirm your bet on the bet slip. This is also where you should be able to see any potential returns.
- How Lay Bets Work
In this scenario, your wager would be successful if Arsenal wins, as you would have bet against the other punters backing Liverpool to win instead.
Again, the way it works is incredibly simple, and very similar to back betting. Here’s a quick breakdown.
- Sign up to your chosen betting exchange through their site or app.
- Make your deposit.
- Seek out whatever market you are after.
- Typically, you would then click on “lay” next to the market you wish to bet on. You may need to click on the odds themselves if this does not work. Ensure your stake is to your liking.
- Your bet should now be available on your bet slip showing any potential returns, ready to be confirmed.
- Matched Betting
For example, if you place a back bet on Liverpool to win a match using a free bet, and a lay bet on Liverpool to not win while wagering the right amount of funds to ensure that you will not incur a loss, you have placed a matched bet.
Also, you can read: How to open multiple betting accounts?
T&Cs APPLY, 18+ ONLY
Free bets and spins must be claimed within 28 days of opening. Free bet/spin stake not included in any winnings. Ts&Cs Apply. 18+Full T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.org #ad
T&Cs APPLY, 18+ ONLY
Significant T’s & C’s The User must enter Bonus Code ‘COMMFREE90’ during registration Only available to users whio deposit via credit or debit cards New Customers Only. Full T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.org #ad
T&Cs APPLY, 18+ ONLY
1. Once the bonus is credited to your account, losses will be refunded up to the bonus amount. 2. You must deposit at least the qualifying deposit of £20 (or currency equivalent) in a single amount with your first deposit to be eligible for the rebate. 3. To withdraw rebated funds, you must bet at least the qualifying deposit on any combination of markets within the promotional period; otherwise, rebated funds will be forfeited. 4. Unused bonuses expire after seven days of being credited to a user account and will be removed after this period. 5. Users making their first deposit by Skrill, NETELLER, PayPal or a virtual/prepaid card will not qualify for this promotion. 6. The sign-up offer is strictly limited to one per individual, family, household address, email address, same payment account number, and shared computer. 7. This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other sign-up promotion. 8. Smarkets Full T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.org #ad
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New customer offer. Place a min £10 bet on the Sportsbook on odds of min 1/2 (1.5), get £30 in Free Bets. Rewards valid for 30 days. SMS verification required. Only deposits via cards or Apple Pay will qualify. T&Cs apply. Please Gamble Responsibly.Full T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.org #ad
T&Cs APPLY, 18+ ONLY
New 18+ Customers only. 0% commission on all exchange sports for 100 days. Promo code 0COMM100 must be entered during registration. Offer only available to users who deposit via debit card. Standard 2% commission rate applies on 101st day. Not available to API, RDT or trading software customers. T&Cs Apply. BeGambleAware.org #ad
Best Sports Betting Exchange Sites in the UK – Reviewed
- Betfair Betting Exchange
Despite immense and growing competition, Betfair Exchange is still among the best in the industry. They remain the home of one of the broadest selections of betting exchange markets, with among the most competitive odds in the world.
Because an exchange can provide more betting options the more people utilise them, part of their abundance of betting options therefore comes down to their sheer popularity, which is something very few others can compete with. Betfair is considered the best betting exchange for backing with big stake liquidity, and are especially popular for their football and horse racing markets.
But don’t forget – they got that popular, and remain that popular, due to excellent and innovative design, both on site and betting exchange app, as well as their generosity, creativity, and dedication to customer experience.
- Consider, for instance, their Betfair rewards plan, which allows you to choose to reduce your commission (which comes at the standard 5%) or receive other promotional benefits depending on your preferences. We also appreciate that the offers that are provided on Betfair’s sportsbook carry over to the exchange. Betfair don’t just excel with their site and betting exchange app - they innovate and personalise, providing an immense amount of depth in doing so.
Betfair Exchange also offer an API system and integrated trading tools, which enable you to gauge in-depth data for betting markets and help you determine how the odds are drifting, or may drift.
You can also access the Tips & Previews and Historical Data sections on the site’s secondary navigation bar (first, make sure you have clicked the Exchange tab under the main Betfair logo on the top-left of the screen). This is also made surprisingly easy on the app.
You can argue – considering all the creative and statistical depth, alongside the sheer number of features and markets – that Betfair Exchange remain the absolute finest out there through their site and betting exchange app. We think there’s tough competition in that regard, but the fact that they are still in this particular conversation showcases their longevity and quality.
- Smarkets Betting Exchange
Smarkets is among the best betting exchanges sites for customers residing in the United Kingdom, currently charging a commission rate of 2% on all winning bets. And that’s just scraping the surface of what they have to offer!
As a Pro Tier customer, you can reap the benefit of a 1% commission rate if you place more than 1,500 bets on a monthly basis or wager more than 1,000,000 GBP in the same time frame, both on their site or their excellent betting exchange app. The operator has also improved the range of their betting markets and odds available across their exchange.
Another highlight is the great number of statistical details available across their betting markets. This doesn't extend just to sports, but also to the political sphere as well, with an exceptional coverage of political betting markets on elections around the world.
We feel that this statistical focus offers a different angle to the usual betting exchange.
Smarkets use their vast knowledge to great effect, offering customers unique wagering opportunities alongside tactical advantages. The sports betting available on the exchange is top-tier, with a broad variety of creative and interesting markets across a huge selection of leagues and sporting disciplines. They are also generous when it comes to promotions, including cuts on commission and welcome offers, meaning you don’t need to miss out on the joys of a bountiful bonus page when making the switch to a betting exchange. And all this is balanced out by a fantastically breezy and user-friendly site design, which somehow works even better on the app.
- Matchbook Betting Exchange
Matchbook have a sterling reputation as one of the best betting sites in the business, and for good reason too.
We love the fact that there are numerous betting markets available from all around the world, including all our favourites such as football, cricket, boxing, and golf. The betting site and betting exchange app are aesthetically pleasing, not to mention technically sound. It’s clear there has been a lot of thought put into the design. In addition, improved security measures such as SSL encryption and responsible gaming tools allow for greater peace of mind when placing bets.
They’ve also found a great balance between security and useability. For instance, their betting exchange app now locks your account after three failed password attempts for greater protection, and all you have to do to access it again is contact customer service.
For an overview of Matchbook's high levels of user satisfaction, simply check out the reviews on their betting exchange app – you don't have to take only our word for it!
Some of that satisfaction must be to do with their fantastically competitive commission policies, available on both the site and app. Alongside other excellent welcome offers, new customers also receive the option of 0% commission for the first 90 days of their tenure. There are also regular Bet10 Get10 promotions for existing customers on a variety of sports, including greyhound racing.
- Matchbook charge a 2% commission on your net profits only (applicable to UK and ROI customers) with a 4% commission being charged to all other customers. Any losing bets will not be charged any commission. Make no mistake, in terms of both experience and generosity, Matchbook has few peers to contend with.
- BETDAQ Betting Exchange
BETDAQ is one of the best betting exchange options for sports betting enthusiasts, mixing great site and app design, fantastically broad and detailed sports markets and coverage, and consistently generous promotions.
- BETDAQ is commission-free on all markets apart from football, horse racing, greyhound racing, cricket, and virtual sports.
There, they offer a fair and competitive rate of 2% on both on the site and their highly acclaimed betting exchange app. When you mix their rates with the cashback, free bet and best odds guaranteed promotions, you have a betting exchange that’s tough to compete with in terms of value.
Furthermore, apart from Betfair, BETDAQ is the only other betting exchange which offers a public API.
With a great range of sports betting markets and competitive odds, we rate BETDAQ as one of the top three on the market. They also have a separate website called BETDAQ Tips, where interested players can find detailed trading articles and the latest information about market movers.
Backing and Laying Calculator
Use our handy hedge betting calculator to find out in seconds how much you can make when backing and laying on a bet exchange.
How To Choose a Betting Exchange
There are a lot of elements to consider when choosing the best betting exchange for you. Here are our top tips for deciding which to use.
Our Recommendation: Betfair Exchange
Our Recommendation: Matchbook
Our Recommendation: Betfair Exchange
We ourselves found that Matchbook and Smarkets were two of the best in this regard, charging their customers up to 4%, but in a lot of cases, only 2%. BETDAQ were also intriguing by removing their commission on Saturdays at the time of writing, although it remains to be seen whether this promotion is a permanent move. Meanwhile, Smarkets provide a bonus of 0% commission for loyal customers - the offer that stood out to us the most.
Our Recommendation: Smarkets
Best Betting Exchange Offers
- Whether you are a new or existing customer, you will always want to receive the best offers and bonuses from your chosen operator. These can come in the form of several options at betting exchanges, although they are not quite as lucrative as offers provided by sportsbooks and casinos.
- The best offers we have seen in regards to free bets come from Betfair Exchange and Matchbook, who grant their new customers a £20 risk-free bet on their first wager. Others such as Smarkets and BETDAQ offer smaller amounts as part of their welcome bonus, which may make you consider alternatives if you desire a more generous sign-up offer.
- Free bets are often part of welcome packages offered by the best betting exchanges, but another alternative is reducing the amount of commission they take from your winning bets. The top operators in the industry are competitive in terms of the percentage they will take from your successful bets. The lowest we have seen is 2%, but they will attempt to lower this further for a period of time, which can see these levels drop to as low as 0%. In the past, we have seen these kind of promotion from Matchbook, BETDAQ and Smarkets.
- Unfortunately, there are downsides to promotions provided by betting exchanges. For one thing, they are not as frequent as offers you may find on regular sportsbooks, and the potential of 0% commission will often be fleeting, as the operator will have to take their cut at some point. Therefore, it is crucial that you capitalise on these offers when they are available.
Risks and Rewards of UK Betting Exchanges
- There are benefits to using betting exchanges and there are elements of risk. The best betting exchanges ensure that their customers receive the benefits of premium value on their odds and a wide range of betting markets, while reducing the negative aspects of the system in the process.
- The rewards for using a betting exchange is the value you can find in your betting odds. Since you’re not betting against a bookmaker, you can define the price yourself if you can find a punter on the other side of the coin. It can be more lucrative betting on the exchange if you’re savvy enough with your odds and markets. Knowing when to bet and what markets to target are crucial to securing a sizeable profit when using a UK betting exchange.
- You also have the advantage of laying bets, which are not available from traditional sportsbook. Lining up a wager on an event not to occur can be more beneficial and lucrative, especially on events such as horse racing, when leading contenders can have very narrow odds to win. Betting on the other side of the coin for a loss on their part can increase your profit margins.
- The risk element is always a factor when gambling, so you must always weigh up all your options before finally placing your wager. Some bets on the exchange may require a minimum stake, which might sway your opinion about lodging your bet. If you surpass a threshold regarding your stake on a certain bet on the exchange, it might not be accepted by the site in question.
- When laying against a bet with long odds, you might be susceptible to a hefty payout if the selection wins rather than fails. If you were to place a £1 on a 20/1 team or horse to lose, and if they were to win, you would be liable to get paid out up to 20 times your stake.
Betting Exchange Trading Tips and Strategies
When it comes to using a betting exchange, you should always do your research and fully understand the concepts of backing, laying, and matched betting. Keep in mind also that different betting exchanges come with varying commission rates.
To mention yet another operator, BetConnect are a rather new betting exchange platform, having been launched in 2018. They are accepting commission-free lay bets, making their platform a rather intriguing prospect, to say the least.
Betting Exchanges vs Sportsbooks
As a summary, we've laid out the main differences between betting exchanges and conventional sportsbooks below.
Exchange Commission vs Bookmaker Margin
Sportsbooks have in place a margin of profit called the bookmaker’s margin through which they earn profit. Meanwhile, exchanges charge a commission fee on winning bets that usually appears as a percentage (e.g. 2% or 4%).
On a traditional sportsbook, the odds are fixed by the bookmaker themselves, and how competitive they are depends on the popularity of the betting market in question. On the other hand, at betting exchanges, you set the odds yourself, though the quality here also depends on the popularity of your chosen market, as you'll have to find someone to match the price you're offering.
Backing & Laying vs Fixed Markets
A sportsbook does not involve the concept of backing and laying. Players bet on the outcome of an event as is provided by a betting site, and the platform has direct control over placed bets. In contrast, at a betting exchange, you can choose to back or lay an outcome (i.e. wager on something to happen or not to happen respectively). In a sense, you'll be acting as the bookmaker yourself.
Best Betting Exchanges FAQs
On an exchange, you'll be betting against fellow punters instead of the bookmaker. Exchanges also allow for lay betting, which means wagering on an outcome not to happen. They also tend to offer more markets compared to traditional sportsbooks.
Although there are quite a few out there, we've listed the 5 top for you to make things easier.
Yes. Betting exchanges are available in certain locations, depending on the site in question. Read the terms and conditions of the exchange before you sign up to their product.
ThePuntersPage Final Say
If you came here looking for some of the best betting exchange sites the internet has to offer, we hope that all your most burning questions have been answered! We've done our best to explain the most important terms as clearly as possible, such as backing, laying, and matched betting. In addition, we've provided a few useful tips on potentially minimising risk which we think are well worth keeping in mind. So, if you feel ready, simply pick a site from the ones we've recommended above, and try out exchange betting for yourself!