Best Exchange Betting Sites
Betting exchanges are becoming a real force in the online sports betting scene. What started as a twist to the established sportsbook formula is now one of the most beloved ways to wager, especially among professional punters and those looking for the best betting odds.
The central idea is fairly simple, and might just be a derivation of what betting used to be before bookmakers were even a thing. Essentially, players are betting against each other, rather than against the bookie. Exchanges allow you to buy and sell bets in a sort of economy where punters either “lay” bets – post offers for other players to accept – or back odds posted by others.
If this sounds like something that might interest you, then keep reading.
What is a Betting Exchange?
First things first – we have to look at some question you might have about how betting exchanges work. We'll also see how they compare to regular fixed-odds sportsbooks.
We’ve already glossed over all of it above, so we’ll go into specifics here. Ona a surface level, a betting exchange offers players the same opportunities as a traditional betting site. You go to the site, you search through the fixtures until you find one that you like, and then you bet on it.
However, where the money for those bets comes from is the first key difference. If you were to win a sports bet with any bookie, the payout you would get comes out of the betting company's pockets. On average, though, punters lose money more than they win, which is how the company can maintain profits. Besides, odds are fixed in such a way as to guarantee profits for the bookmaker. If you'd like to read more on this topic, you can find a lot of information on Betting Fellow's article on betting odds.
Either way, that’s why we said you’re betting “against” the bookmaker in the intro. As you might expect, the bookie is hoping that you will lose, which is understandable. On a betting exchange, though, players are the ones who provide the funds. Essentially, a betting exchange works by pairing up bettors looking to wager on the opposite outcomes of a single selection. The exchange then takes a small commission fee on all transactions – ensuring the company makes profits from providing the service.
The process starts with something called lay betting, or laying bets.
What is Lay Betting?
Using betting exchanges, players can take on the traditional role of bookmakers and post betting offers via the betting exchange platform. The process is as simple as you might imagine: just log into your favourite exchange, find the selection you’re looking for, and the option of laying will be right next to the button for making a bet the usual way.
Then, if players want to accept your offer, they can do so the same way they would on any online sportsbook. This is generally referred to as “backing”.
Now, backing and laying are interconnected. First of all, the definitive characteristic of exchanges is that players can set their odds. The site itself will offer what it deems the best offers right now – the longest odds if you’re looking to back. If you’re laying, it will usually suggest slightly lower odds than the current lowest offer. Taking these suggestions is usually the best way to quickly find a bet or have someone accept your lay within seconds – but it is not the best way to profit with Betting Exchanges.
As such, people try to predict the way the odds will drift. For instance, laying a bet at considerably lower odds than the current best offer is not likely to immediately get you matched with someone looking to back the selection. However, if the odds start drifting towards being longer, you have an advantage compared to other punters. And remember, exchanges are all about beating other punters.
Betfair, the first betting exchange, was founded in 2001 to mimic the stock market. With that in mind, they allowed customers to trade bets already placed between them. As we already mentioned, odds for a given bet tend to drift one way or another. This means that the same bet can increase or decrease in value as time goes on.
So which bets are valuable? Depends on your point of view. For backers, the best odds are those that get the longest odds. This is relative, of course, to the same selection made by other punters or offered by bookmakers. What makes it valuable is that you stand to gain bigger profits with the same amount of risk.
For those who lay bets, the opposite is true: the most valuable bets are ones that have the smallest amount of risk for the same potential winnings.
As such, users can opt to sell these bets long before they are settled. This can be done for multiple reasons: it can be used to lock in a much smaller profit by eliminating risk. Essentially, you would sell your backed bet to another punter. You would get more than you initially staked, but that punter would get all the winnings should the bet be successful. Like in stock market speculation, it’s all about balancing risk and profitability.
Betting Exchange Arbitrage
As you might imagine, this also leaves a lot of room for betting arbitrage. This is arguably the best way to do so – most betting exchanges will not limit your account in any way for arbitrage, unlike regular sportsbooks.
The idea is to back both outcomes by both laying and backing the same selection. Of course, if you just do it at the same time, you’ll end up at a loss of 2x the exchange’s commission. Instead, you have to wait for the odds to drift favourably, and ensure a profit no matter the outcome of the match.
This can also be done by combining the use of betting exchanges and bookmakers. For instance, you could lay a bet at an exchange, and back the opposite outcome art a fixed-odds bookmaker. All in all, if you have patience and a knack for predicting the market, betting exchanges can be a great way of making profits with online betting.
Betting Exchanges vs. Traditional Bookmakers
The majority of this article was already spent discussing the specifics of exchanges. Now, though, let’s take a look at how betting exchanges are different from sportsbooks on a slightly deeper level. Considering this article is for punters, we’ll examine some advantages and disadvantages of betting exchanges from a player’s perspective; ie, how using one will affect your betting in the long run.
Better odds. No matter how you look at it, betting exchanges are the best way to get value in betting. First of all, exchanges don’t use bookmaker margins, meaning more of the money goes to the customer. Secondly, the fact that they constantly drift means that a knowledgable punter can get much better odds than on any standard betting odds.
On the flip side, you need to keep in mind that there must always be someone you’re betting against or someone you’re trading to. It stands to reason, then, that at least 50% of exchange users get negative value on their bets.
No restrictions. Since the operator doesn’t lose any money by players winning, it means they won’t care if you win a lot. That means your account will never be restricted if you win too much – a practice that is standard even among the best betting sites out there.
No betting limits. As long as there is someone out there willing to take the bet you lay, exchanges do not mandate limits in regards to stakes and payouts.
Limited multiples. It should be fairly clear why you can’t truly make accumulators on betting exchanges. Each bet is self-contained, and the platform cannot offer enhanced odds for accumulators. However, you can lay pre-made accumulators at odds of your choosing. However, anyone willing to take that bet would have to do so on exactly the same legs that the lay was on. This means that the number and variety of accas on exchanges are severely limited.
List of Top Betting Exchanges
Now that you fully understand what you’re getting yourself into, it’s time to take a look at the proper places do to so. Here are the best betting exchanges out there, as per Betting Fellow’s team of experts.
This one is fairly obvious, so let’s get it right out of the way. Betfair’s name is pretty much synonymous with betting exchanges at this point, and for good reason.
Betfair was launched in 2001 by Andrew Black and Edward Wray, with the idea of turning a sportsbook into a stock exchange where the resources traded would be bets. What ensued can be called a revolution, because it changed the game forever. They continued pumping out innovation after innovation, with industry heavy-hitters scrambling to keep up.
The result?Betfairaccounts for easily 80% of betting exchange customers out there. It is the biggest betting site of its kind by a considerable margin. And to millions of punters who play using their exchange every day, this is undeniably the best exchange betting site in the world.
Beyond that, Betfair features a traditional sportsbook in case you ever get tired of bet market speculation. It also comes with all the benefits you would want from a world-class bookie: lots of options, an excellent live streaming service, dozens of payment options, and so much more.
- Minimum Deposit: £5
- Maximum Withdrawal:£5000 for Visa, £20,000 for other cards and Skrill, £100,000 for transfers
- Banking methods:Credit/debit cards, Bank Wire transfers, Cheque, Skrill, Neteller, PayPal
- Customer Support: live chat, e-mail, phone
- Welcome Bonus: up to £100 in free bets
While there is no doubt about who the industry leader is – there are always those who will never stop trying to get to the top. Smarkets doesn’t make it a secret: their goal is to take on Betfair, and change the betting exchange scene for good.
You can’t say that they’ve made it, not yet. But there is very strong groundwork here: Smarkets was created largely by software engineers and is an innovative new betting site focused on functionality and technology. At its heart, though, it is an exchange. Smarkets only takes a commission of around 2%, which is one of their great advantages. Compared to Betfair, whose commission is between 2 and 5%, this seems like a great deal.
However, the fact that they are smaller than Betfair also comes with disadvantages. For instance, you won’t find quite as many markets as you might want. Still, this is an innovative, fun new sportsbook, and we can recommend them easily.
- Minimum Deposit: £40 for Trustly, £20 for PayPal and Neteller, £10 for all other methods
- Maximum Withdrawal:£5,000 on PayPal, no max on other methods
- Banking methods:Credit/debit cards, Neteller, Skrill, PayPal, Trustly, Bank Transfers
- Customer Support: live chat, e-mail, phone
- Welcome Bonus: £10 in free bets
If Betfair is the king of the hill in terms of exchanges, Betdaq would be the 2nd biggest site of its kind. All these comparisons to Betfair might seem unfair – but it is clear who all these companies are competing against, and the best way to see how they rank up is by comparing them.
Betdaq is the only exchange that can match up in terms of the number of markets. Their diverse offer is sure to satisfy all but the pickiest of punters. They also have a great history of listening to player feedback, and their commissions are consistently on par.
Still, the smaller population might make it hard to wager on less popular events and markets. ON the other hand, they provide an excellent loyalty program and interesting promotions – such as 0% commissions during the first month.
- Minimum Deposit: £10
- Maximum Withdrawal:No max, except if limited by the payment service provider
- Banking methods:Visa, Mastercard, Skrill, Moneybookers, Neteller, Paypal, Bank Transfers
- Customer Support: live chat, e-mail, phone
- Welcome Bonus: £10 in free bets on the first deposit of £10 or more