Home / Best Betting Exchange Sites in the UK

Best Betting Exchange Sites in the UK

A betting exchange is an online platform allowing users to bet against each other rather than a traditional bookmaker. In this peer-to-peer betting environment, bettors benefit from increased flexibility over a standard bookie with the ability to set their own odds. 

Betting exchanges also allow lay betting – this forms one of the biggest differences between an exchange and a bookmaker. As the exchange is peer-to-peer, each bet is made of two halves – one punter must back a selection to win and another must back the same selection to lose. 

In this article, we will list and compare the best betting exchange sports betting sites in the UK, explore how a betting exchange works and how they differ from traditional bookmakers. We’ll move on to the advantages and disadvantages of a betting exchange, cover how to get started with a betting exchange and the best sports to focus on. 

Bookmakers not found
Claim Bonus Signup Offer Bet £30 on Horse Racing Get £30 in Free Bets
Full Cash Out
Claim Bonus
10 Our Score
Excellent Review
Claim Bonus Signup Offer Get £50 in Free Bets When You Bet £10 On Sportsbook
Claim Bonus
10 Our Score
Excellent Review
Claim Bonus Signup Offer 0% commission for 60 days
Claim Bonus
9 Our Score
Excellent Review
Claim Bonus Signup Offer Get £40 in Free Bets When You Bet £10
Superb Mobile App
Claim Bonus
10 Our Score
Excellent Review

List of All Betting Exchange Sports Betting Sites

Betting exchanges are less popular than traditional betting sites in the UK, but we’re still spoiled for choice with a range of quality providers. We’ve listed just some of the top betting exchange sites below. 

1. Matchbook

Founded in 2004, Matchbook is one of the earliest betting exchanges with more than two decades in the business. 

The platform is noted for its low commissions, starting at just 2% of net winnings and is a popular choice among bettors searching for the best value betting exchange. Liquidity is high across the sports, but particularly so in football, horse racing and tennis. 

The user interface at Matchbook may be simple but is highly intuitive. Customer service is among the best in the business and makes for one of the best options for experienced and novice bettors alike. 

2. Betfair

Betfair is, without a doubt, one of the biggest betting exchanges available for UK players. Founded in 1999. 

With a commission rate between 2 and 5% on the net winnings, Betfair offers a fair betting exchange in line with the industry standard. As the most popular betting exchange, the liquidity at Betfair is high and bettors can wager with confidence that matches will be found quickly. 

In addition to the betting exchange, Betfair also offers a range of other features. The sportsbook is a valued addition and provides a great alternative to niche, low-liquidity matches. Features including live streaming, in-play betting and dynamic promotions make the sites the most well-rounded option. 

3. Smarkets

Founded in 2008, Smarkets is an online betting exchange that acts as a disruptor in the industry. 

Smarkets focused on a straightforward approach with a low 2-3% commission rate and full transparency to their customers. For most, Smarkets offers the best value betting exchange and significant liquidity among the most popular sports markets (football, horse racing, etc.), it is the smart choice for savvy bettors. 

The smaller commission does, however, come with a sacrifice. The list of fixed and dynamic promotions is small and – at the time of writing – there is no free bet option for new players. With longevity in mind, Smarkets stands as the top contender. 

4. Spreadex

Formed in 1999, Spreadex is one of the most respected sports betting exchange sites for UK bettors. 

Unlike other betting exchanges, Spreadex combines the functions of a traditional betting exchange with the benefits of spread betting. This forms a unique platform for bettors and one that offers competitive commissions (2-5%) and good liquidity. 

The benefits of Spreadex lie in the flexibility offered with their unique combination of betting features. This is best suited to seasoned bettors – novices may find the wealth of different options difficult to comprehend. 

Betting Exchange Sites Compared

Below we’ve created a comparison table of the best betting exchange sites, highlighting their key features including their free bet offer, commission, liquidity and live streaming:

Exchange siteFree Bet Offer
Commission %
PaidLiquidity Live streamingFixed Odds Betting
MatchbookBet £50 Get £50 In Free Bets2-5%On Wins Only HighNoNo
BetfairBet £10 Get £50 In Free Bets2-5%Net Wins Only Very HighYesYes
Smarkets2-3%Net Wins Only HighNoNo
SpreadexBet £25 Get £50 In Free Bets2-5%On Wins Only HighYesYes

How Does a Betting Exchange Work?

A betting exchange operates as an alternative to a traditional bookmaker, providing a platform for bettors to connect. The platform matches two users – one who wishes to “back” (betting for an outcome) and another who wishes to “lay” (betting against an outcome). 

Betting exchanges remove the firm odds barriers set by bookies, allowing for a flexible approach that allows bettors to create their own markets. The only caveat is that there must be at least one bettor backing and another laying. 

If, for example, you believe Arsenal will drift to a larger price after the news of an injury, you can request a higher price than what is currently available. Another bettor may see your inflated price and believe the opposite – that you are wrong with your prediction and will match your bet. 

Adding numbers into the mix – if Bettor A stakes £5 on Manchester United to win an upcoming match at odds of 3.0. Another bettor, Bettor B, may lay the same bet, meaning that Bettor A stands to win £30 (including their stake) if United win. If United lose, Bettor B – who laid the same bet – will keep your stake. 

Betting exchanges aren’t in control of placing the odds and, therefore, do not make money from adding a markup. Instead, a commission is charged – usually between 2 and 5% – to the winning bettor. The loser will not pay any commission. 

What’s the Difference Between Betting Exchanges & Other Traditional Bookmakers?

A sports exchange betting site offers a similar experience to a traditional bookmaker with a few major differences. 

First of all, a peer-to-peer betting exchange allows users to bet on both sides of the market. This is the biggest difference between the two – the ability to both “back” and “lay” the market. It offers a huge strategic advantage where users may trade positions, much in the same way a broker may trade in the stock market.

How betting exchanges “take a cut” also differs from that of a traditional bookmaker. Instead of building a margin into the odds, betting exchanges charge a commission to the bet winners. A figure between 2 and 5% is the industry standard. This means that bettors will almost always find the best odds in the betting exchanges. 

As betting exchanges will only make money from winners, successful players are never unrightfully banned. There are plenty of horror stories out there with bookmakers taking a particular dislike to successful sports bettors – with a betting exchange, you know that will never be the case. 

Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Exchange Betting

Betting exchange sites offer a variety of advantages over traditional bookmakers, but aren’t better in every way. Below, we’ve compiled the key advantages and disadvantages of a betting exchange. 

Key Advantages of Betting Exchanges

  • Bet on both sides with back and lay betting;
  • Find the best available odds;
  • No defined betting limits;
  • Successful players are never banned.

Key Disadvantages of Betting Exchanges

  • Liquidity is not always high;
  • Fewer promotions and bonuses;
  • Live streaming is not always available.

How to Get Started with Betting Exchanges

It’s quick and easy to get started with a betting exchange. New users can follow the below step-by-step guide to get to grips with their first betting exchange: 

  1. Choose a reputable betting exchange: Look for a betting exchange that’s tailored to exactly what you’re looking for. We recommend choosing one of the big four – Matchbook, Betfair, Smarkets or Spreadex
  2. Create an account: Follow the onscreen instructions to create an account. Don’t forget to claim welcome bonuses and promotions where available. 
  3. Practice the basics: Back and lay betting will be new to most betting exchange beginners. Starting will small, ultra-conservative wagers, get a feel for the basics and get comfortable with the bet types.
  4. Place your first bigger bets: Once you’ve got a grasp on exactly how back and lay betting works, you’re free to place your first larger bets on the platform. 
  5. Create your betting strategy: For success in the long run, we highly recommend using a data-driven strategy to place your bets. Find what works, what doesn’t and keep up to date and focused on the developments of your chosen sports. 

Example of an In-Play Trade on a Betting Exchange 

Creating in-play trades is one of the key benefits of a betting exchange and allows bettors to secure a profit before a match or event finishes. 

If we take a football match as an example – say a bettor backs Manchester United at the odds of 2.0 with a stake of £50. They score in the first half and the odds drop to 1.5. 

Now, we can lay the bet against Manchester United at 1.5 – thus locking in a profit, regardless of the final result. A lay bet of £66.67, for example, would secure a £16.67 profit, regardless of the outcome.  

What Are the Best Sports on Betting Exchanges?

Like traditional bookmakers, betting exchanges are applicable to a wide range of different sports. From football and horse racing to politics and snooker – there are plenty of markets available at the top betting exchanges.

Football

The football betting exchange experience is, without a doubt, the most popular for UK exchange bettors. Sort by league, tournament or in-play matches to find an exchange to suit. Find significant liquidity in the most popular leagues and tournaments, including the Euros, Premier League, Champions League and more. 

Horse / Greyhound Racing

Horse racing and greyhound racing are also hugely popular among betting exchanges. Find ultra-high liquidity on the biggest meets (Grand National, Epsom Derby, etc.) with good liquidity on the smaller and lesser-followed dates. There are good quality markets and great odds – choose win, each-way, top x finishers, or forecast betting – the same as a traditional sportsbook. 

Cricket

Cricket has long been a favourite of the betting exchanges, particularly surrounding the most popular events. T20 and one-day internationals offer high liquidity, but tournaments like “The Ashes” boast the most. Filter by competition and find win markets, 1st Innings 6 Overs Line and 1st Innings 20 Overs Line among the most popular markets. 

Tennis 

Tennis is always popular among betting fans and it’s no different in the betting exchanges. A high level of liquidity can be found in the biggest games, but there are plenty of options in the smaller matches, too. Place match-winning bets or use set betting to gain the most control in the exchange. 

Risk Management Tips in Betting Exchanges

Risk management is a vital consideration in all types of betting, but it’s of particular importance in a betting exchange. Consider the below tips for long-term betting success. 

Bankroll Management 

Bankroll management is one of the most important skills for bettors to master. Consider using a budget calculator to avoid wagering more than you can afford and err on the side of caution when placing wagers. It’s better to place too small of a bet than too large of a wager. 

Bet Research

Information is your best friend when sports betting. From historical and recent performances to player rumours and off-pitch drama – it can all influence the outcome of an event. Whatever your sport of choice – take the time to pour over the data and fully understand the landscape. 

The more you know about the players, teams, games, leagues and tournaments, the more informed your bets. 

Bet Diversity

A diverse approach to betting offers helps to avoid heavy losses in one area. When betting on an event, it’s best practice to cover a spread of different aspects of the game.

In a football match, for example, placing various wagers that team A will win is not a good, diverse strategy. Instead, bets on the match winner, both teams to score, the number of corners and the number of fouls offer better diversity. 

Betting Exchange Rules and Regulations

Both long-established and new betting exchange sites must adhere to strict rules and regulations defined by the UKGC – the UK Gambling Commission. These guidelines are designed to keep both bettors safe and bookmakers fair. The UKGC is among the strictest gambling authorities globally and requires fair gambling to be promoted clearly. 

Access to responsible gambling tools and information is among the most important sections of the rules and regulations. Deposit limits, loss limits, budget calculators, time out, self-exclusion and more are all accessible from the top exchanges. 

The full terms, conditions and details surrounding the rules and regulations of exchange betting can be found on the different betting exchange platforms. 

Our Expert’s Final Take

The top betting exchange sites offer a fantastic alternative to the traditional bookmaker. Bettors can benefit from betting on both sides with back and lay betting, create their own markets with a highly flexible approach and find the best odds with no bookmaker margin. 

Much in the same way a broker may trade in the stock market, there’s a huge strategic advantage where users may trade positions in a betting exchange. For those willing to put in the time to learn a new betting system, they’re a worthwhile and hugely competitive bookmaker alternative.

Betting Exchanges FAQs

Have a question about betting exchanges that you’re struggling to answer? Check out our frequently asked question section below

What is the best betting exchange?

Of the best betting exchange sites, Betfair is often considered the best among sports bettors. However, with a range of top-quality features – Spreadex, Matchbook and Smarkets all offer fantastic alternatives. 

Do you pay tax on betting exchange winnings?

No, any winnings earned from a betting exchange are not subject to taxation in the UK.

Are betting exchanges legal in the UK?

Yes, UK betting exchanges are perfectly legal providing that they are regulated by the UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission).