Compare the best betting exchanges in the UK and exclusive exchange sign up offers below.
On this page, we will compare the best betting exchanges available for UK punters, and also explain what they are, how they work, and how to use a betting exchange.
The UK has a few different betting exchanges to pick from but the dominant figure in the market is the Betfair Exchange, one of the largest gambling companies in the world.
Like a lot of betting exchanges these days, Betfair is now home to both an exchange and a more traditional online sportsbook, while customers on the site can even play casino games.
Having all these options with the same online betting account is good news for users who want to have multiple different opportunities to win cash every time they log in to play.
Those without experience of betting exchanges are likely to have plenty of questions, though, so we have put together this detailed breakdown of the top betting exchanges available in the UK.
Traditional betting sites work by setting odds and prices in a range of markets for a wide array of different sports. Customers then decide whether or not the odds are good value when thinking about if they want to have a bet, while they can also shop around for higher prices.
The difference with a betting exchange is that the prices are not set by a bookmaker, they are set by the customers themselves. Exchanges work on a peer-to-peer basis, with users betting against each other, rather than the house, which is how it works on a more standard sportsbook.
Many of the same markets can still be found on a betting exchange like Betfair. For example, football fans can bet on who scores the first goal in the big game, whether there will be more or less than 2.5 goals scored in the match, and what the score will be at the full-time whistle.
The benefits of using a betting exchange over a sportsbook are plentiful. Odds tend to be significantly better, which is the most important advantage to point out about exchanges. This is because sites such as Betfair and their rivals have not set the same margins in their odds to protect their profits. The margin on some markets can be more than 10% on some sites.
So how does a betting exchange make their money if they do not have a margin? They have something called commission, which means they skim a cut from the profits of winning bets. This percentage is usually quite low – it can range from two to five per cent – and means that players will generally still come out with more profit from a winning wager on a betting exchange compared to the same bet being placed on the website of a more traditional online bookmaker.
We have mentioned Betfair already – the biggest site of its type around – but what are the other top betting exchanges that are available for UK players at the present time? Let’s have a look.
There are four major betting exchanges available in the UK right now. They are as follows:
Next up in this guide, let’s take a look at each of these betting exchanges in a lot more detail.
Betfair has long been thought of as the market leader for UK betting exchanges, boasting the biggest public profile and a wide range of gambling products that are available to try out.
As well as the Betfair exchange, users on this site can bet on the site’s sportsbook, as well as playing online bingo, poker and various other casino games such as roulette and blackjack.
Founded in 2000 by Andrew Black and Edward Wray, Betfair now claims to have in excess of four million customers, with more than a million of these having an active account on the site.
Betfair is known for its excellent odds, which the company says tend to be around 20% better than those that are offered by a more traditional online bookmaker in the UK. However, the default rate of commission at Betfair is five per cent, which is higher than other exchanges.
Having long been independent, Betfair went through a major merger with Irish bookmaker Paddy Power a few years ago, creating one of the biggest betting brands in the whole world. Then, that new company – Paddy Power Betfair – was part of another takeover as it became a part of Flutter Entertainment, which owns a host of globally-famous betting organisations.
Betfair remains a leading light when it comes to betting exchanges in the UK, with a truly massive range of sports and markets to bet on here, as well as specials for politics, current affairs, TV and film. Betfair customers are unlikely to ever run out of things to bet on.
Additionally, there are great live streaming options on the site, which makes it simple for Betfair customers to be able to keep track of all of the live-action after they have placed wagers through the exchange. In-play betting is available on a variety of Betfair exchange markets as well.
Mobile apps are also an area of strength for Betfair, which has a large array of apps that can be downloaded on to both iOS and Android devices to make it easier to bet while on the move. All in all, it is fair to say a Betfair account is a must for anyone who wants to use a betting exchange in the UK. The company is widely considered to be right at the top of the pile in its industry.
Betfair exchange pros
Betfair exchange cons
While Betfair is the betting exchange that most UK sports fans would be able to name, Smarkets is growing in popularity and has a public profile that is expanding at a rapid rate.
The Smarkets exchange has one major selling point when compared to Betfair – the rate of commission is charged at just two per cent. This might not sound like a big deal, but anyone who uses betting exchanges a lot will find that extra potential profit all mounts up in the long run.
Smarkets usually has prices and odds that are broadly comparable to those that can be found on Betfair. The lower rate of commission therefore means more potential profit is up for grabs.
There are a couple of areas where Smarkets is unable to match up with Betfair at this time and these will hold them back from being a major player. The first is that there is no live streaming available, whereas there is a large array of live sport streams to pick from on the Betfair site.
Smarkets customer service is also not quite up to the mark when compared to Betfair, while the site has also had some technical issues in the past, though these were mostly a while ago now.
When it comes to using a betting exchange on a mobile device such as a tablet, Betfair’s apps have the Smarkets offer beaten as well. Those who want to place wagers while on the move might find therefore that Betfair is a better pick for a site to join than Smarkets for this reason.
Newcomers, however, will find Smarkets to be very user-friendly indeed. The site is home to a wide range of explanatory guides that are designed to give those without the experience of betting exchanges a detailed overview of how to use such sites and get up and running.
As betting exchanges can be quite difficult for people to get their heads around when they join them for the first time, Smarkets has made a clever move in guiding people through the process. On the flip side, Smarkets customer service could certainly be improved, so anyone who has an issue with their account on the betting exchange might struggle to get help.
Smarkets exchange pros
Smarkets exchange cons
#3 Best Betting Exchange – Betdaq exchange
While Smarkets might have an argument with the site over whether or not this is now the case, Betdaq claims to be in second place behind Betfair when it comes to UK betting exchanges.
Betdaq is licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission, so there should be no concerns in this department. The range of promotions that are available to both new users and those who already have an account on the Betdaq exchange is also very impressive indeed.
Now part of the Ladbrokes Coral group – the company that oversees all of these betting brands is named GVC Holdings – Betdaq has been around for about as long as Betfair. However, for some reason, this exchange has not been able to grow nearly as quickly as its main rival.
With more than 30 sports available and good depth when it comes to the markets on the Betdaq exchange, most users are sure to find the bet that they are looking for on this site. However, one thing that could possibly be an issue is liquidity, which determines the odds that are available. History shows that liquidity at Betdaq is not nearly as strong as at Betfair on many markets.
Like a lot of betting exchanges in the world these days, Betdaq also offers its customers access to both a sportsbook and an online casino. What this means is that signing up for an account on this exchange gives users a lot of different online betting options to pick from.
Commission on the Betdaq betting exchange in the UK is only paid by customers based on their net winnings in a market. As is the case with most other major betting exchanges in the world these days, no commission is payable if a Betdaq customer records a net loss on a market.
Most sports at Betdaq are charged at two per cent commission – the same as Matchbook and Smarkets – but this site actually offers a zero per cent commission rate on some markets. This means that if there is enough liquidity in those markets, Betdaq might well have the best value odds around in some cases, beating out rival operators including the market leader Betfair.
Betdaq exchange pros
Betdaq exchange cons
Most betting exchanges look quite similar but Matchbook has a slightly different design and feel, which helps to make it stand out from the crowd, though it might not impress everyone.
The first place to start when reviewing the Matchbook exchange is the commission as this rate has an impact on how much money people can expect to receive from wagers on the site.
Matchbook commission is set at two per cent on winning wagers. No rate of commission is charged for bets on the Matchbook exchange platform that lose. This means that Matchbook is broadly in line with Smarkets when it comes to the rate of commission, beating Betfair.
However, some special bets at Matchbook are charged at a higher rate of commission. This is set at five per cent, the same as at Betfair, which means players really need to make sure that they know the exact rate of commission they will be paying on a wager before confirming a bet.
Matchbook has some live streaming available to watch, but the range and breadth of the offering are not quite as good as at Betfair, which remains out in front as a clear market leader in this key department. Like each of the company’s main rivals in the betting exchange industry, Matchbook is licensed to operate in the UK by the top industry body the Gambling Commission.
Using a betting exchange through a mobile device is becoming a lot more popular, so the Matchbook app is a must for customers who want to be able to place wagers wherever they are in the world. The Matchbook exchange app is available for both iOS and Android device users.
For those who are interested, signing up for an account on the Matchbook exchange also gives users access to the site’s other gambling products, which include some live casino games. Roulette and blackjack are among the games that are available to Matchbook exchange users.
A few more sports and markets are offered on the Betfair site, but Matchbook’s lower rate of commission means it is recommended to sign up for an account on this exchange as well.
Matchbook exchange pros
Matchbook exchange cons
Betting exchanges are an alternative to traditional online bookmakers. With a standard betting site, players bet against the house, which sets the odds and prices on their markets.
With a betting exchange, the odds tend to be higher than for the same bet at a traditional online bookmaker due to the fact they do not retain a margin in order to protect their profits.
Betting exchanges have been around for a while in the UK now but they have become a lot more popular in the last few years as a result of growing trends such as matched betting.
This is because those who do matched betting can use an exchange to lock in some profit by laying an outcome they have backed through a free bet given out by a traditional bookmaker.
Betting exchanges work on a peer-to-peer basis. This means their customers bet against each other and even set the prices that are available on all of the markets that are offered.
As users of betting exchanges such as Betfair can both back and lay bets – laying is betting against an event happening – this means there is a lot more flexibility on an exchange.
Changing prices on the exchange also often offer the chance to lock in a proportion of guaranteed profit – this is one of the reasons exchanges are so important in matched betting.
Betting exchanges often also have a sportsbook on the side that can be accessed through the same action, while many sites even combine an online casino into the mix as well.
This means betting exchange customers can often play everything from poker, roulette and blackjack to even online bingo through their same account on a site.
PayPal is accepted on most betting exchanges in the UK including the Betfair Exchange, Smarkets, and Betdaq.
Betting exchanges charge something that is known in this section of the gambling industry as commission. This is a percentage of winning wagers that is taken by the site.
Commission is not typically charged on losing bets, so it is usually only comprising a cut from the profit that a customer makes from a particular market on the exchange.
The commission charged by betting exchanges varies quite a lot but is usually a few per cent. Betfair has the highest rate of commission of all the UK exchanges at five per cent, while the commission rate is set at around the two per cent mark at Betdaq, Matchbook and Smarkets.
The number of betting exchanges in the UK has been steadily growing and there are now some good options for people considering signing up for an account on this type of site.
Betfair remains the market leader. The company – which went through a merger with Paddy Power a few years ago – is now part of one of the biggest gambling giants in the world. Alternatives for those interested in UK betting exchanges may wish to consider joining include Smarkets, Matchbook and Betdaq – the three main contenders to Betfair’s throne right now.
There is nothing to say customers cannot use multiple betting exchanges. In fact, having accounts on all four sites could be handy so users can make sure they always get the best odds that are available on their chosen bets. While new sportsbooks and online casinos are launched often in the UK, it is relatively rare for a new betting exchange to be created here.
The best betting exchange is a matter of personal preference but each of the four sites available to join in the UK have their own pros and cons, which we have detailed above.
Betfair is a very strong option for those who are new to betting exchanges and the fact it has a strong live streaming offer is a big tick in the box for this site as well.
Smarkets, on the other hand, charges a lower rate of commission than its rivals. This means those who are serious about playing on betting exchanges could make more money here.
Meanwhile, Matchbook has deep liquidity and low commissions, with Betdaq widely considered to be the second-largest betting exchange operator. All of them are well worth joining.