Betfair set up the first betting exchange back in mid-2000, and they currently offer the largest sports betting exchange available. If you do not know what a betting exchange is, check out our betting exchange guide for beginners.
Put simply, the Betfair Exchange provides a platform for punters to bet against each other rather than betting against a bookmaker. You can back a bet (betting on an event to happen) or lay a bet (betting on something you don't think will happen). Backers and layers will get their bets matched as long as they both agree on a price.
Back- Placing a bet on an outcome you think will occur (the same as placing a bet on a bookie, but you can choose your odds).
Lay- Betting on a selection to lose or not occur.
Tip: Back odds are displayed in blue, lay odds are displayed in pink and the money under the odds is the amount available to back or lay at that price.
Backing bets on the exchange is almost the same process as on regular bookmakers, and you can back a bet at the odds on offer at whatever stake you want, but, there is no guarantee your bet will be matched. The odds and money available (liquidity) fluctuate all the time as more or fewer bets are placed. The more people betting on a market, the better chance your bet will be matched, but you still need the market odds to reach your selected odds. If there is not enough money to match your stake, or the odds never reach yours, your stake will be refunded. The same principle applies to in-play or live markets when backing a bet, and stakes are refunded if your odds and stake are not matched.
We recommend using the Betfair Exchange if you are going to regularly back single bets, as more than often, the odds are higher than traditional bookmakers, even after you factor in the commission on winnings.
Laying a bet is essentially acting as the bookmaker, and betting on a selection to lose or not occur. For example, if you lay a bet on Koln to win vs Mainz, you are betting on everything except a Koln win (Mainz win or draw). Lay betting is often used for matched betting, with punters laying bets to ensure a profit regardless of the outcome by both backing and laying the same bet (if done right).
Also, lay betting can be used to ensure a profit if the odds present an opportunity on a selection you have already backed or layed. For example, if you bet on a match to be a draw at 3.8 with a stake of £10, the potential profit is £28. At half time, the game is still a draw, but the odds have shortened to 3.0. You can choose to lay the price to guarantee a profit regardless of the result.
The Betfair Exchange charges a commission (5% for UK and Ireland) on winning bets instead of using betting margins like regular bookmakers. If you have a net loss on a market on the Betfair Exchange, you will not pay any comission for your bets, but you earn points that count towards your discount rate.
Each bet on the Betfair Exchange, whether you win or lose, will earn you reward points. The more points you get, the less commission you pay on winning bets. You will earn 1 point for every 10p of commission you pay on your net winnings, or would have paid if you have a net loss.
If you are not betting on the exchange, you will get a 15% weekly reduction in your points, but you can use a "freeze" to prevent this reduction. The points freeze lasts for one week, and earn one week of freeze every three months, but you cannot have more than four unsued freeze weeks on your account.
Betfair has a separate app for their exchange, but your account works across all of their apps and products. We recommend enabling the touch or face ID for fast and easy access to your account.
You will need to install both apps if you want to use their sportsbook and exchange. As for the Betfair Exchange app, it is user-friendly, fast, and reliable (we have not experienced crashes). The Betfair Exchange app is popular among punters, and it boasts a 4.6 rating out of 5 on the App store.
Steven is an experienced iGaming content writer who has been working in the industry since 2018. He is passionate about sports betting and enjoys writing about all aspects of the industry, including bookmaker reviews, betting tips and strategies, and news and analysis. If you have any questions about online gambling in the UK, please don't hesitate to contact him.