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Smarkets is a brilliant UK betting exchange that has been in the industry since 2010. Smarkets offers simple peer-to-peer trading on both sporting and political events and has the lowest commission rates in the exchange industry.

Steven Hubbard
Reviewed by Steven Hubbard
Last updated: 15/02/2024
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Smarkets Betting Exchange Review

Betting exchanges have been around for quite a while in the UK now, offering sports fans another way to place their chosen bets on the big game of the day.

While the biggest player in the industry by a long-distance is the Betfair Exchange, there are a few other competitors who have been trying to claim a bigger piece of the pie in recent times. Among those is a company called Smarkets, which is becoming more popular among sports lovers who want to get great value from their wagers through using a betting exchange.

Matched betting's spike in popularity means more people are trying out betting exchanges as a way to lock in guaranteed profit from the wagers that they place with free bets too.

So for those who are thinking about signing up with an account on the Smarkets betting exchange, what are the most important things that they need to know? Our complete review of the Smarkets betting exchange has all the details, so read on for a detailed overview.

Introduction to Smarkets

Smarkets is now one of the top betting exchanges around, even though it is not that much more than a decade since the company was set up. Created by Hunter Morris and Jason Trost back in January 2008, it took around 18 months for Smarkets to be ready to launch. Trost remains in place as the chief executive of Smarkets and he has spoken about a future IPO for the firm.

An invite-only version of the exchange was released in August 2009 and, around six months later, Smarkets was launched to the public with £1 million in lifetime trades quickly reached. The £50 million barrier was then broken in November 2011 and shortly after that, Smarkets announced it was introducing a flat-rate commission fee of two per cent on the exchange.

Smarkets considers itself to be a technology company, so it is no surprise it got to work on a mobile app, releasing software for Android devices in 2013 as part of its growth strategy. Relocating to a new office in St Katharine Docks, London, showed how successful Smarkets was, but the company still needed to grow its public profile. A shirt sponsorship deal with west London football club Queens Park Rangers was duly secured in a bid to raise awareness.

Betfair has long had a sportsbook as well as a betting exchange and Smarkets made a similar move in 2019, while the firm has shown a commitment to exploring new markets by targeting the United States, where online betting is slowly being legalised across the country.

Passion Capital and Deutsche Telekom are among the companies to have invested heavily in Smarkets - which is licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority of Malta - while individuals with major stakes include Stefan Glaenzer, the chairman. Smarkets transactions use Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to keep players safe. Customers of Smarkets in the UK are licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission.

The Smarkets Betting Exchange

Smarkets has a very strong range of sports to bet on, with almost everything that people might want. Horse racing and football are two of the top sports at Smarkets, with many fantastic bookies for the latter, but there are also options such as tennis - for which we have put together the best bookies - cricket, UFC, golf, cycling and rugby. It is even possible to bet on sailing through the Smarkets betting exchange, as well as other minor sports like table tennis. Naturally, as Smarkets is an exchange, live in-play betting is a real area of strength on the site.

It is not just sport that Smarkets customers can bet on through the peer-to-peer exchange, though. Users have the chance to bet on TV and entertainment markets such as who will win the Oscars, be the next Doctor in BBC show Doctor Who or triumph at Eurovision. Additionally, there are politics and currently affairs markets to try out, including those based on COVID-19.

On top of all of that, Smarkets is among the betting companies to have embraced esports. With esports betting having risen in popularity at a rapid rate over the course of the past couple of years, those who want to bet on the outcome of various leagues and competitions in the world of esports should certainly consider signing up to Smarkets. CS: GO and Dota 2 are among the top esports that Smarkets has markets on, with the range set to grow in the coming months.

Newcomers to Smarkets can benefit from a £10 welcome bonus when they sign up to get an account on the site. There is an industry-low two per cent flat commission rate charged on Smarkets bets, which is up there with the best in the business - it is lower than at Betfair.

Popular events at Smarkets are listed to give people an idea of what others are betting on and where the most activity is taking place on the exchange. For a big football game in the Champions League, for example, it is typical that many hundreds of thousands of pounds will be traded on the outcome. Markets include many of those that would be found on a standard sportsbook site, such as which player will score the first goal of the match on the night.

Various payment methods can be used to deposit into the Smarkets betting exchange. A debit card is still likely to be one of the most popular methods, while a change to the law means that credit cards can no longer be used to fund gambling accounts. E-wallets like PayPal are on the list of payment methods approved by Smarkets, along with a bank transfer. While more betting sites are embracing cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as a payment option, Smarkets is yet to add this option for its customers, though it may do so in the future.

Customer support is important for a lot of people, especially those who are joining a peer-to-peer betting exchange such as Smarkets for the first time. At Smarkets, the help centre features several different ways to get in touch with a customer service agent. Logged-in users have access to live chat 24 hours a day and seven days a week, while is the email address that can be used to get help. A Twitter account - @SmarketsTech - also answers queries that customers of the betting exchange might have about the service.

Smarkets Betting App

Betting while out and about continues to get more popular, so the Smarkets app is a must for anyone who wants to use a mobile device to access the peer-to-peer betting exchange.

Smarkets claims to be "the world’s most technologically advanced betting exchange" and as the firm has always highlighted its technology, it is no surprise to see the app is a triumph.

Available to download on to both iOS and Android devices, the Smarkets betting app can be downloaded through the App Store and the Play Store respectively. APK for Android devices can also be downloaded straight from the Smarkets site, for those who prefer this option.

The Smarkets betting app has everything users need to place wagers through the exchange while on the move. Handy for both smartphones and tablets, the app has a slick interface and includes all of the functionality people would expect to see, such as the cash-out option.

A few things are missing from the Smarkets betting app, including live streaming. While Betfair - the firm's big operator in this part of the sector - has a massive array of streams that can be accessed through mobile apps, this is not currently the case at Smarkets.

No specific mobile bonus is available on the Smarkets betting app either. This is a shame as offering a special promotion might make it more tempting to download the app to devices.

Guide to Getting Started on Smarkets

Betting exchanges like Smarkets have been getting more popular in the UK, but a lot of sports fans have still never used them and might need a guide to getting started on Smarkets.

The first thing to note is that Smarkets is a peer-to-peer betting exchange. This means that users are not betting against Smarkets in the same way as they do at a standard, traditional betting site. Instead, users with Smarkets place wagers against each other on the exchange.

Prices are set by supply and demand rather than centrally by a bookmaker. Users can elect to bet on an event happening in the same way that they would at a traditional bookie.

But the good thing about a betting exchange like Smarkets is that users can also act as the bookie too. This means setting a price against an event happening - a bet known as laying - which can be very profitable for those who know what they are doing.

However, laying on an exchange like Smarkets also leaves users open to losing more money than they would on a normal type of bet, meaning there is a need to strike the right balance.

Newcomers might still be unsure about how to place wagers on Smarkets by backing and laying, so the next part of our guide will give a quick overview of how this works in practice.

Backing and Laying on Smarkets

To use a betting exchange such as Smarkets, it is necessary to understand what exactly is meant by the terms backing and laying, as this is how the market works. Let's use the example of a football match in the Premier League between Chelsea and Arsenal, which is being played at the Blues' home stadium, Stamford Bridge. Chelsea would likely be the favourites due to home advantage. Those who fancy the Blues to win can bet on them to do so and claim all three points. This is known as a back bet. A back bet on an exchange such as Smarkets effectively works the same as in a normal sportsbook.

However, the benefit of a betting exchange is there is also the option to lay a bet - which is to wager against an event happening. A user might opt to lay, Chelsea, which means betting against them to win. If the game is a draw or Arsenal win, laying Chelsea is a winning bet. This would be the same as a double chance bet on a standard sportsbook in this example. The lay can be used in several different ways, though, compared to a sportsbook. Laying can be done on horse racing, for example, or other sports where there are more potential outcomes in an event. Laying the favourite in a horse race would mean betting that they do not win it.

On the Smarkets site and other betting exchanges, laying means players have to decide how much liability they want to have in a wager. Liability means the amount of money they would be in line to lose if their bet did not come to fruition. For newcomers, liability can be quite scary but Smarkets clearly demonstrates the risk, making it simple to make decisions on the exchange.

Backing and laying can even be done in tandem to lock in a guaranteed profit. Let's say a Smarkets customer has identified a horse in a race they believe are being offered at too big a price. Backing this horse could be a good idea, as the price could come down closer to the race. If the price does come down, it would then be possible to lay the new price to lock in a profit. Horse racing punters can also check out the leading sites for the sport of kings.

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