Betting Exchanges

At a Betting Exchange, the bets you place are against other punters rather than the bookmaker. This results in two key benefits - the ability to bet against something (eg: a specific horse not winning a race - known as a 'lay bet') and odds which are often better than those offered by a traditional bookie. The following table lists the leading betting exchanges for UK bettors.

List of Betting Exchanges

Site Free Bet
Terms Apply
Commission Rewards Program Live Streaming Bet Now
£100 5%
£30 3%
Please Note: Offers listed above are for new customers only, (18+). Terms and conditions apply.

Betting Exchanges Explained

The principle of how a betting exchange works is relatively simple. Each exchanged bet requires two or more customers who wish to place opposite bets. For example, one punter wants to bet that Arsenal will win the Champions League and one who wants to bet that they wont.

When placing a bet with a traditional bookmaker the odds are set by the bookie, and you have no other choice but to accept the odds on offer or go elsewhere. At a betting exchange you are able to set your own odds - if the opposing bet is already available at the odds you have selected, the bet is instantly 'matched' and good to go. However, if you decide to hold out for better odds your bet will remain 'unmatched' until somebody accepts those odds.

One of the most appealing features of a betting exchange is the ability to guarantee yourself a profit by hedging your original bet when the odds move in your favour. For example, lets say you place a bet on Manchester United to win the Premier League at the start of the season at 10/1. If they win their first 3 games and shoot to the top of the table, these odds will drop as the likelyhood of them winning the league increase. You can now lay (bet against) Manchester United winning the premier league at the lower odds to lock-in a profit.

How Do Betting Exchanges Make Money?

A traditional sports betting site generates its revenue by working a margin into the odds they offer. So if you were to place proportional bets on every outcome of an event (eg: bet on every horse in a race), the money won would be less than your total stake.

Betting Exchanges, on the other hand, make money by charging winning bets a commission - the actual rate varies by exchange but is around 5%. 

Betfair vs Betdaq

Betfair was the first betting exchange, and to this day remains the largest. However its nearest competitor, Betdaq, has been gaining ground recently thanks to its lower commission rate. In this next section, we'll compare these betting exchanges on liquidity, odds, features & promotions.

Liquidity & Odds

As the larger of the two exchanges, Betfair definitely has the highest liquidity - although Betdaq continues to narrow the gap between the exchanges. In terms of odds, for the most part both Betfair and Betdaq are comparable although Betfair definitely has the edge on less popular markets.

This is, of course, before you take the betting exchanges commission into account. Currently Betdaq are offering new customers a reduced 3% commission rate compared to Betfairs 5%. Therefore a winning bet at Betdaq would yeild a slightly higher return than the same bet at the same odds at Betfair.

In the image below you can see a side-by-side comparison of Betfair (left) and Betdaq (right) for a recent horse race immediately before the start of the race.

Betfair / Betdaq Comparison


  • Mobile Betting: As you would probably expect, both exchanges offer mobile apps for various smartphones and tablets - including iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices.
  • Live Streaming: Betfair and Betdaq both offer live horse racing streams provided by ATR and RUK which you can watch for free provided you have placed a bet on the market. Betfair also offers live streams of various non-racing events such as soccer, tennis and basketball.
  • Multiples: One type of bet which cannot be placed via an exchange platform is a multiple or accumulator bet. However, Betdaq and Betfair also offer customers traditional bookmaker style beting - where the bets are placed against the site rather than another customer.


Betdaq are currently offering new customers a £30 no lose bet as well as reduced commission rates (3% vs Betfairs 5%) and a rewards program in which points are earned for every pound paid in commission, which can then be used in the Betdaq shop to buy various gifts, gadgets and even holidays. Click here to visit Betdaq.

Betfair offer a no lose bet to their new customers - where your first bet is refunded if it loses. You can either choose a £25 no lose bet, or opt for a lower £20 no lose bet plus up to £1,000 in cash back in your first month, based on the amount of commission paid. Betfair also offers a rewards program which is based on the number of commission points you earn. As you move up the reward levels you will receive discounts on the commission you pay on winning bets - up to a 60% discount. Click here to visit Betfair.

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