Betfair are without a doubt the biggest betting exchange but are they really the best? Most punters have also heard of Betdaq, although don’t have an account with them… should you?
This page is designed to compare all the top betting exchanges, covering a variety of different factors, to help you decide which to join and which to avoid. We’ll also try to answer any questions you might have about exchanges and how they differ from regular sports betting sites.
Top Betting Exchanges: Compared
Comparison of online betting exchanges by our rating, commission charged and market liquidity – who comes out on top?
Best liquidity by a mile
Best alternative to Betfair
Poor outside big events
Poor outside big events
Low stakes only
How We Compared & Rated Exchanges
All of the information included above should give you a good idea of how betting exchanges compare. When it comes to comparing the best betting exchanges against one another, however, there are a range of crucial factors to take into account:
- Range of Markets
- Live Streaming & Other Features
Typically, betting exchanges run fewer promotions and bonuses than traditional betting sites and unlike those traditional bookmakers, many exchanges do not even have welcome promotions for new customers. Some exchanges, however, do provide offers for both new and existing customers but they tend to be a little different to those promotions you may be used to.
Rather than involving free bets or enhanced odds, betting exchange promotions tend to revolve around the issue of commission. They might, therefore, remove commission from bets placed on certain markets or discount a customer’s commission rate for a certain period of time.
Here’s a couple of offers worth checking out:
Range of markets
Just as it is a key factor when it comes to comparing traditional sportsbooks, the range of markets made available by different betting exchanges is also an important issue for punters to consider.
Generally speaking, betting exchanges do provide a slightly smaller selection of markets than traditional bookmakers, with markets for smaller and less popular sports and events being particularly likely to be lacking.
The range of markets offered can vary quite significantly from one betting exchange to another, too, so it is always worth checking out an exchange’s betting option before taking the plunge and signing up to use it. Just because a fair number of betting markets appear to be on offer also doesn’t mean that you will necessarily be able to bet on them through an exchange, either. That’s because of the crucial issue of liquidity, which we will now deal with in some detail.
As we mentioned when we explained how betting exchanges differ from sportsbooks earlier on, placing and laying bets through exchanges is done between punters and does not involve the betting site itself. A ‘back’ bet of £10 on a particular outcome of a market placed through a betting exchange, therefore, must be laid by another real punter at the odds which the first wishes to place their bet.
Liquidity, therefore, is the amount of money available within a betting market to back or to lay a wager at the odds you desire. If £100 worth of money has been laid by a punter at odds of 2.00 on an outcome, therefore, the liquidity is £100 and that is the total amount any punter or combination of punters are able to bet on the outcome at those odds.
When it comes to using betting exchanges, therefore, liquidity of markets is absolutely crucial as a market with little or no liquidity simply can’t be bet on and may as well not even be available. It’s for that reason that you need to research the liquidity of different betting exchanges, especially when it comes to the type of markets you wish to bet on, before choosing which one you wish to use.
In general terms, betting exchanges with a larger customer base will boasts better liquidity as there will simply be more punters using the site and as such adding their money to markets. Less popular sports or more obscure markets, too, will typically have lower liquidity than more mainstream alternatives.
Betting exchanges do not receive the losing stakes of bets placed by their users, those go to the other punters who matched the losing bets. In order to make money, therefore, betting exchanges charge their users commission which is generally set at a certain percentage and normally applies to the net winnings earned by a punter.
For example, when commission is set at 5%, if a punter places a ‘back’ bet worth £10 at odds of 11.00 and sees the bet win, a total of £5 from their net winnings of £100 would be paid as commission to the betting exchange. It should be apparent, therefore, that when choosing which betting exchange you wish to use it is often better to opt for one which charges a lower rate of commission.
What you should keep in mind, however, is that some exchanges do not charge a flat rate commission. Instead, they operate their commission on a kind of sliding scale whereby you pay a lesser percentage if you wager enough through the site to earn such a discount.
Live Streaming & Other Features
As well as taking into account the range of markets provided by a betting exchange, the liquidity of those markets and the commission you will pay for betting on them, it is also worth looking into the additional features which any given betting exchange may offer.
The most common such feature is the provision of live streams for users to watch sporting action as it unfolds. Live streaming services are offered by some of the top betting exchanges and just like the similar services on offer from traditional sportsbooks, exactly what they offer can differ a little.
What you want to look out for when it comes to comparing live streaming offered by different betting exchanges are how many streams are regularly available, which sports are covered and what restrictions are placed upon who is allowed to watch the streams.
As well as live streaming services, some betting exchanges also provide a handful of other additional features. These can include things like audio commentary, statistics and results services.
Pros & Cons of Betting Exchanges
- Betting exchanges can often offer much better odds than sportsbooks for the same markets.
- Unlike sportsbooks, exchanges never limit customer’s accounts simply for being profitable.
- It is only through a betting exchange that punters are able to lay bets. Sportsbooks allow for traditional ‘back’ bets only.
- Cleverly backing and laying different outcomes on the same market through a betting exchange lets you efficiently hedge your bets.
- Exchanges offer some markets not generally available through sportsbooks. Most notably; in-running horse racing markets.
- The general variety of markets available through betting exchanges is more limited than that offered by sportsbooks.
- Whether you can place the type or size of bet you want, is hugely dependent upon the exchange’s liquidity.
- Exchanges tend to run far fewer offers, promotions and bonuses than traditional bookmakers.
- Betting exchanges charge commission on the money wagered through them by all of their customers.
How Do Betting Exchanges Differ From Sportsbooks?
If you’re a newcomer to the world of online betting or if – like the vast majority of punters – you’ve only ever used a traditional sportsbook, you might not know exactly what a betting exchange is. Before we go on to talk about comparing the best betting exchanges, therefore, let’s quickly explain how they differ from those traditional sportsbooks.
Whereas an online sportsbook is a website which presents a range of betting markets offered by a bookmaker for punters to bet on, a betting exchange is more like a platform through which punters can bet against one another. Rather than simply being able to put money on the outcome of a betting market and be paid out by the bookmaker is the bet is successful, therefore, users of a betting exchange have the option of two types of wagers.
Those two types of wager are either ‘back’ bets or ‘lay’ bets, with the former working exactly like a traditional sportsbook wager but the latter seeing the punter take on the role usually played by a bookmaker. What we mean by that is that they are laying money against an outcome taking place and it is this money laid against market outcomes which allows other punters to ‘back’ the outcome.
Betting exchanges, therefore, play little role in the actual placing of bets other than to put punters together who wish to bet opposite ways on the same market. The exchange makes its money simply by charging commission on the transactions enacted by its users.
Punters using a betting exchange can, therefore, place traditional ‘back’ bets on a chosen market or can decide to ‘lay’ a certain outcome and play the role which would normally be taken by the bookmaker.
What that means is that the exchange company itself plays no part in a specific bet being placed and so does not receive the stakes of losing bets placed through the betting exchange. It is for that reason, then, that exchanges charge their customers commission, in order to turn a profit.
Exchanges, for instance, typically tend to offer more generous odds than sportsbooks do for the same betting markets. What’s more, exchanges also introduce a greater breadth of betting options given that punters can both bet and lay markets in order to hedge their bets or otherwise finesse their gambling. Finally, too, due to the different way in which exchanges work they also never limit or suspend accounts purely because a punter makes a profit.
It is due to those advantages of using betting exchanges, therefore, that some punters do prefer them to traditional sportsbooks.
As such, therefore, a punter cannot place a £100 ‘back’ bet on any outcome unless the liquidity of the corresponding ‘lay’ outcome is worth at least £100. If a market does not have good liquidity, then, the market may as well not even be available as punters will not actually be able to take part in it.
As you can see from the table above Betfair is our top rated choice so if you’re stuck choosing then you can’t go wrong with them.