Vince Holm
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There’s genuinely never been a better time to be a British bettor. Nowadays, you don’t only have a huge amount of choice regarding which sites you bet with online. You can also pick between completely different ways of betting altogether. While most people choose regular sportsbooks, the mighty betting exchange offers a fascinating alternative. 

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30/09/22

Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Football Bet Builders

  • Leading betting exchange with sportsbook
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New Customer offer. Place a min £10 bet on the Sportsbook on odds of min 1/2 (1.5), get £30 in Free Bets. Rewards valid for 30 days. SMS verification required. Only deposits via cards will qualify. T&Cs apply. Please Gamble Responsibly

0% Commission for 60 Days

30/09/22

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  • Incredibly user-friendly
  • Low commissions on winning bets
  • Fantastic Smarkets betting exchange apps
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Use code COMMFREE to trade with 0% for 60 days. New UK, IE & Malta users only. Min. £10/€10 first deposit only using Card or Instant Banking. Full T&Cs apply.

£30 Money Back If Your 1st Bet Loses

22/09/22

£30 Money Back If Your 1st Bet Loses

  • Enhanced specials on offer
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  • Great betting exchange with good market liquidity
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New customers only. Sign up using the bonus code ‘MATCHBOOK30’. Place your first bet, if it loses, we will refund your first bet stake as a free bet. The first bet must be placed with 7 days of registration and at odds of 1.8 or more. The max refund is a single £30 free bet and will be applied to your account within 72 hours of your qualifying bet settlement. . 18+ only. T&C’s apply. Be Gamble Aware.

Bet £10, Get £10 / Up to £1,000 Cashback

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  • Highly impressive track record
  • Massive £1,000 cashback welcome offer
  • Solid commission rates
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In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about finding and using a betting exchange in the UK. We’ll investigate the sports you can wager on, the offers you can use, list your top betting exchange sites, and plenty more besides. 

Contents

List of the Best Betting Exchange Sites in the UK

  1. Betfair – Best Betting Exchange in the UK
  2. Smarkets – Solid Commission Rates on Your Winning Wagers
  3. Matchbook – Two Excellent Welcome Offers to Choose Between
  4. Betdaq – Betting Exchange with a Fantastic Track Record

Top Exchange Betting Sites Online Reviewed

When it comes to picking a betting exchange in the UK, you don’t have anywhere near as much choice as when choosing between regular sportsbooks. That said, there are still a few excellent options out there, with these being the very best of the best. 

1. Betfair Betting Exchange – Best Betting Exchange in the UK (£20 Risk-Free Bet on Betfair Betting Exchange)

Betfair betting exchange - home page

If somebody asked you to name an exchange betting site, the first brand you’d name would be Betfair. This is a simply iconic exchange betting site, which genuinely changed the sports betting industry. 

The Betfair betting exchange has been going since 1999, but – in our mind – it remains the best betting exchange in the UK. It’s certainly the biggest in terms of sheer market action – a factor which shouldn’t be overlooked, since it provides a level of liquidity which other betting exchange sites simply can’t match. The Betfair betting exchange also has a solid range of sports on which you can wager – including everything from horse racing to the UFC – plus an absolutely fantastic mobile betting app, and a very tidy welcome offer. 

Pros:

  • Biggest name in exchange betting
  • Unparalleled levels of liquidity
  • Excellent Betfair betting exchange mobile app
  • Solid welcome offer

Cons:

  • Market selection could be expanded

2. Smarkets Betting Exchange – Solid Commission Rates on Your Winning Wagers (£20 Risk-Free Bet, or Commission-Free Betting for 60 Days)smarkets betting exchange

The betting exchange of Betfair might be dominant in the UK, but the Smarkets betting exchange is a worthy contender to its crown. This is a London-based brand which has been around since 2008, and which – quite simply – oozes class. 

The interface on the Smarkets betting exchange is simply fantastic, on both the desktop site and mobile app. It looks great, and feels even better to use. Crucially, the Smarkets betting exchange also boasts some of the best prices around, due in part to its low 2% commissions. The range of markets is also solid here, there are two very nice welcome offers in place for you to choose between, and you can get help 24/7 if you encounter any problems on the Smarkets betting exchange.

Pros:

  • Incredibly user-friendly
  • Low, 2% commissions on winning bets
  • Fantastic Smarkets betting exchange apps
  • 24/7 live chat support

Cons:

  • Less liquidity than on Betfair betting exchange

3. Matchbook Betting Exchange – Two Excellent Welcome Offers to Choose Between (£30 Risk-Free Bet / 0% Commission for 90 Days)

matchbook betting exchange

Of the three betting exchange sites we’ve looked at so far, the Matchbook betting exchange is arguably the least well-known. It still has an excellent track record though, stretching back to 2004 when it was first launched as a competitor to the betting exchange of Betfair. 

The Matchbook betting exchange certainly creates a great first impression, letting you choose between two excellent welcome offers. One is a £30 risk-free bet, while the other lets you use the exchange commission-free for 90 days. Elsewhere, while the range of betting markets isn’t particularly impressive, this exchange has a nice, low commission rate of 2% on winning wagers. 

Pros:

  • Two great welcome offers
  • Only 2% commission on winning bets
  • Useful ‘Insights’ section for betting tips
  • Very good track record

Cons:

  • List of betting markets is relatively small

4. Betdaq Betting Exchange – Exchange with a Fantastic Track Record (Bet £10, Get £10 / Up to £1,000 Cashback)

betdaq betting exchange

The betting exchange of Betfair might be more famous, but the Betdaq betting exchange is one of the few that can match its track record. It was launched all the way back in 2000, shortly after its great rival, and is still going strong today. 

The Betdaq betting exchange offers solid liquidity to punters on a decent range of markets, with a solid 2% commission rate on winning wagers. It doesn’t look as attractive as the Smarkets betting exchange, but is still easy enough to use. Finally, the Betdaq betting exchange gives users a choice between three excellent welcome offers. Two give you a £10 free bet when placing a £10 qualifying wager, while the other provides cashback over your first month worth up to £1,000. 

Pros:

  • Highly impressive track record
  • Massive £1,000 cashback welcome offer
  • Solid commission rates
  • Useful betting tips

Cons:

  • Nowhere near the liquidity of the betting exchange of Betfair 

What is a Betting Exchange? – Exchange Betting Explained

Before we go any further in this article, we need to tackle a fundamental and crucial question – what is a betting exchange? 

We’ll take it as a given that you’ve used a regular sportsbook before, or – at the very least – know how one works. With these platforms, you’re betting ‘against’ the bookie itself. The brand sets the odds for every market on its platform, and you decide whether or not you like those odds enough to place a wager. 

An exchange works in a fundamentally different way. Instead of simply accepting the odds given to you, you can place wagers at whatever odds you please. Manchester United might be priced at 2/1 to beat Arsenal on the Betfair sportsbook, for example. But, if you use the betting exchange on Betfair instead, you could take them at 3/1. 

There are two main catches here.

Firstly, another human user needs to be willing to take the other side of your wager. Or, to use the parlance of betting exchange sites, they lay the bet and you back it (or vice versa). In short, rather than betting against the bookie here, you’re doing so against another person. 

Secondly, you’ll need to pay a commission on any winning wagers on betting exchange sites. You can think of this as a ‘tax’ on the additional flexibility given for your betting odds. This might sound annoying, but – in reality – regular sportsbooks also charge a commission. It’s simply called a ‘vig’ or ‘overround’ instead, and is hidden within the odds themselves. 

Best Betting Exchange Sites Compared

In general, you can consider the four brands listed at the top of this page as the very best exchange betting you can use in the UK right now. That said, there are still notable differences between this prestigious quartet. Below, you can see exactly how these top betting exchange sites stack up in several key areas. 

Betting Exchange Free Bet Welcome Offer Number of Sports Commission (Base Rate) Betting Apps Customer Support Hours
Betfair logo Bet £10 Get £30 In Free Football Bet Builders 20+ 5% iOS, Android 8am-11pm
smarkets logo £20 Risk-Free Bet ~20 2% iOS, Android 24/7
matchbook logo £30 Risk-Free Bet 9 2% iOS, Android 9am-2am
betdaq logo Bet £10, Get £10 ~20 2% iOS 9am-8pm

How to Choose Between Betting Exchanges

The truth is that you don’t have anywhere near as much choice when it comes to betting exchange sites in the UK as you do with sportsbooks. That being said, there are still several excellent options to choose between. Here are several of the most important factors you can use to decide which exchange betting site is perfect for you. 

  • Liquidity

When deciding between betting exchange sites in the UK, this is arguably the first thing you should check. After all, if the exchange betting site has poor liquidity, this can have a significant knock-on effect on your entire experience. You can struggle to get the wagers you want fulfilled, and sites which are generally struggling for liquidity tend to reduce the overall number of bet types they offer.

Fortunately, checking the liquidity on a sports betting exchange tends to be straightforward. In most cases, you can simply seek out the markets you’re interested in, and see there and then how much action they’ve been getting. You can then compare that volume with the other betting exchange sites on your shortlist to gauge its levels of liquidity. 

  • Betting Markets

This is another incredibly important thing to check out ahead of time when looking for a sports betting exchange. 

For the purposes of our reviews, we’ve favoured betting exchange sites which simply have the most possible markets. For your particular needs though, you should be checking that both the sports and competitions you’re interested in are covered. Not only that, but – if you prefer specific bet types – you must confirm these are also provided by that particular sports betting exchange

  • Payment Options

Again, we generally consider this as a case of ‘the more, the better’ for our reviews. In your specific quest for the perfect online betting exchange, however, you can afford to get more specific. 

Check ahead of time that the list of payment methods include at least one or two suitable options. You should also look into the likes of transaction fees and processing times, and ensure these are up to scratch. 

  • Special Offers

In general, you won’t find many ongoing promotions available on betting exchange sites. Most should provide a welcome offer, however, and – if this is good enough – it can provide a great kick-start to your time on a new online betting exchange. 

The sheer bonus amount is certainly a factor to consider here. Try to look beyond this though, to gauge the overall value of the offer when all the T&Cs are taken into account. 

  • Customer Service

Use any platform for long enough, and you’ll encounter a problem eventually. This is true even on the best exchange betting sites, and is perfectly normal, but it’s still crucial that you’re able to get these issues solved sooner rather than later. 

There are two things to research here. The first is the customer service options provided, which should include at least one way to get in touch directly (like live chat). The second is coverage hours, which – if they’re not 24/7 – must at least give you a decent window in which to reach out.

Best Horse Racing Betting Exchange in the UK

Horse racing is an absolutely massive market in the UK, second only to football betting in terms of overall popularity. As such, it’s no surprise to see that it enjoys excellent coverage among the brands we’re studying here, with all of them – in reality – doubling as a horse racing betting exchange. 

A typical British horse racing betting exchange will cover all races in the UK and Ireland. Some will also branch out to cover events in the likes of France, the USA, Australia, and other countries around the world. As for bet types, you’re given a reasonable if unexceptional amount of choice, with Betfair – for example – letting you place Win, Each Way, and Place wagers on most races. 

Top eSports Betting Exchange Sites 

eSports has been one of the quickest-growing markets around in the past decade or so. This has proved true on both regular sportsbooks and betting exchange sites, with it being very easy indeed nowadays to find a good eSports betting exchange.

In general, the game coverage on a typical eSports betting exchange tends to be solid. The biggest titles – like LoL, Dota 2, and CS:GO – are usually covered, at least for the biggest competitions of all. You can place wagers both pre-match and in-play, and are usually given the choice between betting across an entire match, or going map-by-map instead. Finally, many betting sites like you watch the action unfold for free, typically via Twitch integration. 

Best Cricket Betting Exchanges in 2024

Cricket might not quite be on the same level as horse racing, when it comes to the sheer size of betting markets, but it remains popular in its own right. As far as liquidity goes, it doesn’t enjoy nearly the same volume as the ‘sport of kings’, but it’s still straightforward enough to find a top quality cricket betting exchange. 

As with eSports, the level of coverage on a modern-day cricket betting exchange tends to be impressive. Naturally the biggest test and one-day international matchups are available, but it’s also easy to find markets on domestic tournaments like the IPL and Caribbean Premier League. Go with a big exchange like Betfair, and you’ll be able to wager on everything from simple Match Results, to Over/Under Runs props. 

Betting Exchange Offers in 2024

We’ll cover the differences between exchanges and sportsbooks in more detail shortly. For now though, simply know that you’ll get far more offers to choose between from the latter than the former. 

This isn’t because the people running the betting exchange of Betfair – or of other brands – are lazy. It’s simply because the nature of betting exchanges makes it impossible to provide many of the most popular sportsbook promotions, since you’re wagering against another punter rather than the brand itself. 

That being said, the cupboard isn’t completely bare here. Whether you use the Betdaq betting exchange or any other of our recommended sites, you will still find a welcome offer in place. As always, this can be claimed one time – when you first sign up to the site – and will deliver bigger bonuses than any ongoing promotions. 

There are two main types of betting exchange welcome offers. The first is a risk-free bet, which refunds your stake – up to a certain amount – if your first wager loses. The second is commission-free wagering. This ensures that – over a given time frame – you pay no fees on your winning bets. 

Ongoing promotions specifically for betting exchanges are rare. That said, there are sometimes sitewide deals you can still claim, such as the ‘Refer a Friend’ deal on the betting exchange of Betfair. 

Pros and Cons of Betting Exchanges

In general, we’ve tried to provide a balanced view of betting exchanges in this article. Whether you’re planning to use a crypto betting exchange or any other type, after all, there will naturally be both pros and cons to this decision. Below, you can see the key examples in each case. 

Pros:

  • Odds Flexibility

This is the main calling card of betting exchanges. No longer are you limited to one option, when it comes to the odds for a particular market. Instead you can seek out whichever odds you please, as long as someone’s willing to lay the wager, thus balancing risk and reward for yourself.

  • Take Either Side of a Market

In most cases, on a regular sportsbook, you’re forced to bet that something will happen – that a certain horse will win a race, for example. With an exchange, you can lay that market, effectively betting that it won’t happen. Use a horse racing betting exchange, and you can bet that that same horse won’t win the race instead.

  • Matched Betting Possibilities

Matched betting is one of the most popular gambling strategies out there. We’ll explore it in more detail shortly, but it is – in theory – a foolproof system, which can only be executed when using a betting exchange. 

Cons:

  • Commissions

This is the most famous drawback of betting exchanges. In most cases, even if you win a wager, at least 2% of your profits on a horse racing betting exchange will be deducted. This is rarely enough to make a serious dent in your long-term success, however.

  • Fewer Markets

Despite being less discussed, this is a more serious drawback than paying commissions. Since betting exchanges only provide markets which will definitely get plenty of action, you’ll often find that more niche sports simply aren’t covered. 

What is Betting Exchange Trading?

We’ve already looked at several of the most popular forms of exchange betting. Another term you may have come across, however, is betting exchange trading.

The good news is that this is not a whole new form of betting which you need to learn. Instead, betting exchange trading is just a more general way to talk about what you do on a betting exchange, with the ‘trading’ simply being laying and backing bets. 

As noted, however, this can be a more general term to encompass all the markets on a betting exchange. These will actually tend to go beyond sports, to include a couple of other types of ventures. On Betfair, for example, you can wager on TV shows via the Specials section, and there’s a Politics section too. 

Betting Exchange Strategies

As in all forms of gambling, there’s no completely foolproof way to make money from exchange betting. That said, there are definitely betting exchange strategies you can follow to greatly increase your chances. 

Most notably, we have the famous ‘matched betting’ strategy. Human error is still a factor here, but – if you execute matched betting completely correctly – you should guarantee yourself a profit. 

Very briefly, matched betting involves taking both sides of the same bet. You place the back bet on a sportsbook, using a free bet token. You then play the lay bet on a betting exchange, using regular cash. Obviously whatever the outcome, you’ll win one bet. To actually make a profit, however, you must either calculate the odds correctly yourself, or (the safer option) use an online matched betting calculator. 

Another of the most common strategies in betting exchange trading is to ‘lay the favourites’. As the name suggests, this involves placing lay bets against the favourites in a market. The thinking is that favourites tend to be overvalued by punters, with their status as favourites making them seem safer psychologically to the bettor. Laying favourites goes against this, and – in theory – helps you mine some value. 

Betting Exchange vs Bookmaker

Betting Exchanges vs Traditional Sportsbooks is a debate that’s been going on for years now. Ultimately the one you prefer comes down to personal tastes, but we can highlight a few key differences which might help you make the choice. 

The main difference revolves around prices. With a bookmaker, you simply get what you’re given. With an exchange – like the betting exchange of Betfair – you can pick your own odds, as long as someone else is willing to lay them. This obviously gives you far more flexibility, and the commission charged is more or less cancelled out by the overrounds bookies charge anyway. 

The big counter-argument here is that – relatively speaking – you don’t get many odds to choose from. A typical sportsbook might cover 25-30 different sports, on average, but even the best betting exchange will often top out at 15 or so. In addition to that, you’ll find far fewer bet types within the sports that are offered. 

Another major difference is the respective special offers you get access to. Invariably, sportsbooks will offer a wider range of promotions. Those on the best betting exchange sites, however, can outweigh them in both size and value, particularly when you find a big 0% commission deal. 

How to Sign Up to an Online Betting Exchange 

These platforms tend to be very easy to use nowadays, whether you’re using the Betdaq betting exchange or any of our other recommended brands. Getting started and placing wagers is extremely straightforward, with these being the few steps you must take to do so. 

Step 1 – Create an Account

Betfair betting exchange - sign up

Technically, your first step is to pick a brand. Any of our four recommendations will serve you well here, but – for the purposes of this guide – we’ll assume you’ve picked the betting exchange of Betfair. 

Whichever brand you opt for, head to its main homepage and find the ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Register’ button, usually located in the top-right. Provide all the necessary personal information which is requested, and set your username and password. Finally, agree to the general T&Cs and finish creating your account.

Step 2 – Make a Deposit

Betfair betting exchange - deposit

Before you can start betting, you obviously need some money in your account. Ensure you’re logged in, then access the cashier area, which is also usually done via a button in the top-right. Now pick one of the available payment methods, provide the requisite details, enter a stake, and confirm your deposit. 

Step 3 – Place Wagers

Betfair betting exchange - home page

With your account funded, it’s high time to place some wagers. Head to the main sportsbook area, then find the sport, matchup, and bet type you’re interested in. You now need to find the price you’re happy with, and choose whether to lay or back the bet by clicking the corresponding odds. Once this pick is added to your betslip, just set a stake and confirm the wager.

Step 4 – Verify Your Identity

Betfair betting exchange - ID verification

After placing a few wagers on the betting exchange of Betfair, you’ll hopefully have some winnings in your account. Before withdrawing these, you must complete the verification process. To do so, just provide clear images of two pieces of ID (e.g. a driving license and utility bill) via the site’s document uploader tool, or its live chat. 

Step 5 – Make a Withdrawal

Betfair betting exchange - withdrawals

Your identity will normally be verified by the exchange within 24 hours or less. After this, you’re free to start making withdrawals. Head back to the cashier area, selecting Withdrawal this time, then pick one of the payment options, enter any necessary details followed by the payout amount, and request your withdrawal. 

Final Thoughts

The betting exchange provides a fascinating alternative to the usual sportsbook that you’re probably already accustomed to. While you have fewer betting options overall, this is arguably balanced out by the far greater amount of control you have over your odds. In general, it unlocks a whole new realm of possibilities, including the chance to try matched betting. 

After reading this article, you know everything you need to in order to try using a horse racing betting exchange for yourself, or that for any other sport. We’d recommend starting on the betting exchange of Betfair, but – whichever brand you choose – we wish you an enjoyable and profitable experience. 

FAQ

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What are the best betting exchange strategies in 2024?

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Vince Holm
Vince Holm

Vince is a highly-experienced writer, with a focus on sports betting content. His specialties include sportsbook reviews and betting tips. A keen football fan, he also loves analysing and writing about the beautiful game.

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