For those looking for an alternative to the traditional form of betting with bookmakers, betting exchanges UK could well be the sites for you. Betting exchange sites offer the chance for punters to either back or lay on a market, pitting them against customers with a different opinion in the process. Both the stake and odds are agreed upon by punters themselves, with no bookmaker being required to act as an intermediary. On this page, we will run through the top betting exchange sites available to punters in the UK, as well as providing a definitive guide on this increasingly popular form of wagering.
How Do Betting Exchanges Work?
Before placing bets on a betting exchange, it is important that customers understand exactly what they are getting themselves into. While sports markets are displayed in a similar manner to those found on bookmaker sites, a betting exchange will show both back and lay options too, with four options being available to punters, rather than the normal two. Taking a Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool as an example, odds for the Gunners to win may be 2/1. However, rather than those looking to bet on Arsenal to win doing so against a bookie, betting exchanges act as the middle man, finding a customer who wishes to back Liverpool. In the event of either party losing, they will be liable to pay out.
Betting exchanges handle all of the necessary financial details, taking the stake from the punter who has backed, as well as the potential payout from the layer. Money will be held until the final result is determined, with the exchange then distributing funds accordingly. So, going back to our example, should Arsenal have won, backers would receive their stake and the payout. However, if they failed to win, the layer would get the payout and their stake back. But what is in it for the betting exchange? Betting exchanges will deduct a commission from the winning punter, which can range from anywhere between 2-5%. This type of betting can appear complicated at first, however it quickly becomes clearer after spending just a short amount of time on a betting exchange.
Best Betting Exchange Sites
The Betfair betting exchange has long been regarded as being the best around, having been launched in 2000. The Betfair exchange attracts an estimated 90% of punters in the UK who bet in this way, despite their commission fee of 5% being one of the highest. Referred to as “Paddy Power Betfair” on the London Stock Exchange following a merger between the two companies, Betfair takes advantage of an API system, as well as integrated trading tools, allowing visitors to determine just how much odds are fluctuating. The Betfair exchange is licensed by the Gambling Commission, meaning that punters in the UK are able to take full advantage of their platform, while a license from the Malta Gaming Authority is also found.
Those placing bets at the Betfair sports betting exchange will earn themselves points along the way, which can be used to gain a better Betfair commission. In terms of Betfair promotions, the Betfair welcome bonus for exchange customers is currently £20 risk-free bet. Our Betfair review found this exchange to be particularly appealing for fans of both football and horse racing, however a large number of sports markets are also available. The minimum bet for a bet at the Betfair betting exchange is set at £2, while a premium charge of 2% is available. Calculated weekly, this basically caps profits made at 20%.
Live streaming is also available to punters at the Betfair exchange, offering coverage of hundreds of sporting events on a weekly basis. Meanwhile, live betting is also available, with odds being updated constantly. On top of this, the Betfair exchange is very easy to use, with its clever interface making browsing markets and staking a simple task. Funding your Betfair exchange account is also simple, with payment methods including debit cards, eWallet’s and bank transfers.
The Smarkets exchange went live back in 2008, making it one of the newest of its kind on the web. The Smarkets betting exchange quickly attracts the interest of punters by offering a commission fee of just 2%, which is one of the few areas in which they outperform Betfair. Licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, as well as leading authorities in Malta and Sweden, our Smarkets review found a number of appealing features. Punters placing 1,500+ bets per month will see the Smarkets commission fee drop to just 1%, while this also applies to customers who place $1,000,000 worth of bets over the same period of time.
The Smarkets sports betting exchange is regarded as being one of the best when it comes to lay betting, which is again in contrast to Betfair. Smarkets is also hugely appealing to those looking to bet with high liquidity, with useful graphics and charts helping punters to make decisions. New customers can claim the Smarkets £10 welcome bonus, while Smarkets promotions for existing users are also introduced from time to time.
The Smarkets “Trade Out” feature is similar to cashing out bets, which is available on selected markets on their exchange. Smarkets is perhaps the greatest threat to Betfair at present, with their exchange site performing well on all devices, including both desktop and mobile, with a dedicated app being available to customers. With Smarkets operating solely as a betting exchange, there are no distractions surrounding a sportsbook or casino games, something which cannot be said of other brands.
Dating back to 2000, the Betdaq betting exchange was purchased by Ladbrokes in 2013, helping them to achieve an estimated 7% share of the market in the UK & Ireland. A commission fee of 2% for all winning bets is in place, while Betdaq is one of the only betting exchanges to take advantage of a public API. Betdaq is actually commission free on certain markets, while the Betdaq welcome bonus means that new customers will get 0% commission for the first month on all exchange bets.
Meanwhile, while there is a shortage of Betdaq promotions available, those placing a bet of £10 or more on an exchange virtual market will receive a £10 free bet, with the promo code “V1010” being required. In terms of how Betdaq compares to Betfair, both exchanges perform well in terms of liquidity, however Betdaq do not offer as many sports markets. On top of this, having been acquired by Ladbrokes, Betdaq is one of the few betting exchanges to have its own fixed odds platform. Betdaq trading tips are also on offer, while their commission rate and rebates are more appealing, with Betfair charging a premium here.
One of the major advantages of Betdaq is that there is no premium charge to be found, meaning that those winning large amounts will not be charged more, something in which Betfair has in place. There is also an easy to use Betdaq mobile app available to both iOS and Android customers, while their exchange site also works well on various devices.
Launched in 2004, Matchbook was slow to make an impact in the industry initially, however major investment in 2011 saw them improve significantly. Owned by Triplebet Ltd, the Matchbook exchange attracts new customers largely as a result of its 2% commission rate on net profits, as well as a 4% rate for all other customers, while they also offer some of the best odds around. In fact, Matchbook’s odds are often better than found on Betfair, which is one of the main reasons as to why they are growing so quickly. Losing bets will not be charged any commission, with Matchbook being an excellent option for fans of US sports in particular, including the NFL, NBA and NHL.
Unfortunately, there is no Matchbook welcome bonus or Match promotions to speak of, however with there being no premium charge either, things tend to even out at this betting exchange. The Matchbook sports betting exchange is licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission, while customer support is offered by telephone, email and live chat.
Our Matchbook review also found that a mobile app is available to both iOS and Android users, however unlike Betfair, no live streaming services are available to punters on their exchange. The Matchbook Exchange site is one of the best around in terms of usability, with all markets and features being easily accessible at all times. Those who have placed bets at the Betfair exchange in the past will quickly get used to Matchbook, with a number of similar features being found, including the blue and pink back and lay buttons.
Having been around for over a century as a traditional bookmaker, the Ladbrokes exchange became available to punters in the UK in 2013. The Ladbrokes sports betting exchange holds a license from the Gambling Commission. There is currently no Ladbrokes welcome bonus available to new customers on their exchange, however £20 worth of free bets can be claimed on their sportsbook site. Ladbrokes commission sits at 5%, however punters earning 12,000+ exchange commission points will see this rate lowered to just 2%. 1 exchange commission point is earned for every £25 bet at the Ladbrokes sports betting exchange.
The Ladbrokes exchange scores highly when it comes to both in-play betting and live streaming, while they are able to compete with Betfair when it comes to their sports coverage. Customer support is available 24/7 via telephone, email and live chat, while the fact that minimum deposits start at just £5 mean that the Ladbrokes exchange caters well for beginners.
Ladbrokes trading makes it easy for punters to see the fluctuation of markets, while a detailed results page makes the decision-making process surrounding potential bets easier. The Ladbrokes exchange site is also easy to use on desktop and mobile, with a dedicated exchange app making things even simpler for iOS and Android customers.
Betting Exchange vs Bookmaker
In comparison to bookies, a betting exchange is often seen as offering better value and a wider variety of opportunities, due to the fact that punters can effectively set their own odds. Betting exchanges allow punters to wager on the outcome of sporting events, with users betting against each other, rather than a bookmaker. As a result, punters are not restricted in terms of odds, as is the case with sportsbook sites, with exchange customers going head to head by either backing or laying.
With bookies, betting margins can be as much as 20%, meaning that odds are basically unfair in many cases. The same cannot be said of a betting exchange however, with their peer to peer style meaning that markets are dictated by punters themselves. Therefore, winning bets often bring about greater earnings when compared to a bookie, just one of the benefits of a betting exchange.
While one of the drawbacks of betting exchanges is the commission charged, this can be as low as 2%, meaning that it is unlikely to impact too much upon your ultimate winnings. Meanwhile, those making a net loss will not be forced to pay any commission at all.
Other advantages surrounding betting exchanges revolve around the increased number of betting options, creating your own odds and the lack of bet cancellations, which add up to make a hugely appealing platform.
Matched betting sites are used by punters in order to guarantee for a profit, with this strategy also requiring a bonus or enhanced odds offer. No-risk matched betting generally allows for a profit, no matter what the outcome of markets are, because of the bonus itself, rather than the price. Using the Betfair Exchange as an example, punters must place a back bet with a bookie of your choice, which will mean that you qualify for a bonus or free bet, whilst also laying on the same market on the Betfair Exchange. Having done so, punters will then have their free bet to play with. Next, find a sports market of your choice, which must have similar odds as on the Betfair Exchange. Place the bet using your bonus or free bet, as well as laying on the Exchange, meaning that even if the bet wins or loses, a profit will be made.
Back & Lay Betting
Wagering on a betting exchange is all about backing and laying, which punters must understand before getting involved. In simple terms, backing effectively means betting that a particular result will happen, with laying being wagering that it will not. Examples of the two options can be found below:
- Backing Chelsea to beat Crystal Palace.
- Chelsea available at 1/2 for the three points.
- A win for Chelsea will see punters paid out at this price, plus their stake.
- Rather than betting on Liverpool winning the Premier League, a lay bet would be staking on anyone other than the Reds coming out on top.
- Those placing a lay bet are effectively acting as bookies.
- Unlike traditional bookmaker sites, exchanges allow for both back and lay betting.
- Many punters today bet using a lay betting system.
Advantages & Disadvantages of a Betting Exchange
- Lay Bets – Unlike with traditional bookmakers, lay bets can be placed on exchanges, meaning betting on an event not occurring. As such, punters have a greater number of options for winning money on sporting events.
- Odds – Because you are betting against other punters, rather than an individual bookie, better odds can often be taken advantage of.
- Payouts – While some bookies will cancel bets, punters operating on a betting exchange will know that they will always receive winnings when placing successful bets.
- Choice – There are only a small number of regulated betting exchanges available to punters in the UK today.
- Bonuses – Those signing up at a betting exchange will not find as many as bonuses and other promotions when compared to online bookies.
- Limits – The amount that can be staked on markets at betting exchanges is determined by liquidity, meaning that the limits may not be suitable for those with higher budgets.
❔Which is the best betting exchange?
Betfair is widely regarded as being the leading betting exchange available to punters in the UK, performing well when it comes to markets and odds. However, Smarkets, Betdaq, Matchbook and Ladbrokes also offer appealing platforms, so the choice is really yours.
❔Why use a betting exchange over a normal bookmaker?
Many have turned to a betting exchange due to the freedom in which such platforms offer. Both back and lay bets are available, something in which traditional bookmakers do not offer.
❔What does exchange mean in betting?
Unlike on a traditional bookmaker site, where bets are placed against the bookie itself, at betting exchanges, bets are made between punters. In effect, the exchange is between the two parties, with the site acting as an intermediary.
❔How do betting exchanges make money?
Betting exchanges charge commission on winning bets, meaning that those placing successful bets will not take home 100% of their earnings. However, those placing losing bets will lose just their stake.
❔Which betting exchange has the lowest commission?
Betting exchanges tend to set commission rates at anywhere between 2% and 5%, with Smarkets offering a standard charge of 2%.
❔Which is the best betting exchange for backing with high stake liquidity?
Betfair, Smarkets and Betdaq are among the best exchanges for high stake liquidity, with betting on such platforms being appealing to those with larger budgets as a result.
Bottom Line on Betting Exchange
Betting exchanges may not be a new platform, however they are still overlooked by a number of punters. However, an increasing number of betting customers are now signing up at sites such as Betfair, Smarkets and Betdaq, with the draw of increased odds, greater freedom and lay bets being extremely appealing. You should now understand exactly how back and lay betting works, including the strategies used by punters, so be sure to check out some of our recommended betting exchanges for yourself.