Betting through a betting exchange is a popular alternative to mainstream online bookmakers and there’s certainly plenty of choice available for punters looking to try their hand using betting exchange sites over more conventional bookies.
There are a number of available betting exchange sites but for many the choice comes down to one of four big players. The Betfair Exchange is perhaps the most well known of the quartet, but with Matchbook, Smarkets and Betdaq also holding a fair share of the exchange market it can be confusing for punters deciding which one to side with and determining which is the best one for you can be tricky.
Things to Consider
Of course, such a decision usually depends on what a person is betting on, such as Betfair horse racing; but for other sports it may be better using another betting exchange.
Other notable factors to consider when it comes to assessing which exchange is best are…
- Site reliability
- Liquidity (volume of money)
- Availability of betting markets
- Commissions charged
And of course, free bets and betting offers are always an important consideration! So which of these big four betting exchange sites is the best?
A well-established name in the exchange industry, Betfair is probably the most well known of the main players having revolutionised the idea of the betting exchange model back in 1999 and making betting fairer for all with reasonable commissions (5%) and a wide range of sports available to bet on.
A robust infrastructure ensures Betfair’s website and exchange are rarely subject to downtime even during high-traffic events such as the Cheltenham Festival, Grand National and the Champions League Final. The Betfair Exchange horse racing and football engines are highly resilient to increased traffic load and are unlikely to crack under the pressure.
A user-friendly and easy to navigate website means punters can place their exchange bets (£2 minimum) with relative ease and speed; while the wide array of available sports offers plenty of choice. The Betfair exchange football markets especially covers most if not all football matches worldwide and has by far the highest liquidity (volume of money being traded) of all the exchanges.
For newcomers to betting exchanges, the Betfair Exchange is perhaps the easiest to get to grips with although the commissions charged are higher than that of its rivals. That said, it offers perhaps the most attractive introductory offer of the big four exchange players.
Second only to Betfair in the betting exchange markets, Betdaq – like Betfair – offers a wide range of sporting events and boasts a solid infrastructure which is rarely prone to failure during high-traffic sports events. It could be argued though that the number of users of Betdaq’s betting exchange offering likely doesn’t present enough of a strain on their resources.
Also like Betfair, Betdaq’s website design is sleek and easy to navigate. It is almost a clone of the Betfair website in many respects although there are some differences between the two. Novices shouldn’t be put off too much trying to navigate an overly complex website with most Betdaq exchange markets easy to find.
Betdaq, formed in 2000, does have a better commission structure than Betfair at just 2% and even 0% on some smaller sports, which could prove an attractive trait for many, but the choice of available betting markets perhaps isn’t as comprehensive. In addition their new customer sign-up offer perhaps doesn’t quite stack up against that of Betfair.
A relatively new player in the arena having only been active since 2008, Smarkets exchanges has one of the lowest industry commissions at just 2% although the available betting markets aren’t as numerous as those available on other exchanges.
Some lesser known events which may be available on both Betdaq and Betfair exchange might be missing from Smarkets exchange; while infrastructure and reliability has taken a couple of hits during high-traffic events although issues tend to be quickly remedied.
Novice users might find Smarkets slightly more difficult to navigate than its competitors and it might take a few clicks in order to find the user’s desired betting market. New Smarkets exchange users can get a £10 welcome bonus credit which can be used across any market.
Completing the big four of the betting exchange arena is Matchbook, founded in 2004, and the smallest of the main players and perhaps has some way to go before it can challenge for top honours against Betfair.
The firm’s infrastructure has struggled under load in the past and users have encountered periods of problems with the website.
Like Smarkets, navigating around the website can involve a few clicks before landing on a user’s desired betting market although its betting exchange markets range is impressive given the company’s size in relation although not in the same league as Betfair.
A complex commission structure (2-4%) is likely to put novice exchange bettors off, while there’s no sign up bonus for new customers.
All things considered it is likely to come down to a straight fight between Betfair and Betdaq for new customers looking to dip their toe into the betting exchange market; although Smarkets has certainly been making gains on both with a product that continues to be refined and improved. They are sure to attract new players away from both of the bigger hitters in the exchanges arena.
For occasional exchange punters it might be worth sticking with Betfair and Betdaq; but for those who are likely to throw a good deal of money at matched betting might be better suited to Smarkets or Matchbook whose commission structures – despite the latter being more complicated – are likely to prove less costly in the long run although Betdaq has recently gone commission-free on a range of sports markets.