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A discussion of the best betting exchange sites UK punters can wager on highlights that an alternative to regular bookmakers and their fixed odds wagers. That’s the topic in focus here as we look at all things to do with betting on the exchanges. From reviews of the major players to strategies and offers, check out all that and more below.

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Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets


Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets

The world’s biggest and best betting exchange and a competitive bookie for fixed odds. Offer comprehensive live streaming.
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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


0% Commission For 60 Days

A top notch betting exchange with good liquidity and best rated exchange betting app.
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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.

0% Commission on All Sports for 100 Days


0% Commission on All Sports for 100 Days

Irish betting exchange where you can back and lay sports outcomes that also takes regular fixed odds bets.
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New 18+ Customers only. 0% commission on all exchange sports for 100 days. Promo Code 0COMM100 must be entered during registration. Offer only available to users who deposit via debit card. Standard 2% commission rate applies on 101st day. Not available to API, RDT or trading software customers. T&Cs Apply.

£30 Welcome Offer Money Back If First Bet Loses


£30 Welcome Offer Money Back If First Bet Loses

Matchbook is a peer-to-peer betting exchange designed for smart bettors who want better value. Best rated for: customer support
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New Customers Only. Sign up using the bonus code ‘Matchbook30’. Place your first bet. If it loses, we refund your first bet stake as a free bet. The first bet must be placed within 14 days of registration and at odds of 1.8 or more. Bets on Multiples are excluded from this offer. The max refund is a single £30 free bet and will be applied to your account with 72 hours of qualifying bet settlement. 18+ only. T’s and C’s apply. Be Gamble Aware.

List of the Best Betting Exchange Sites

We start by recapping the top exchange betting platforms in the UK sector. These are the operators and firms where you back and lay sporting outcomes, taking on fellow punters:

  1. Betfair – Industry pioneers with historical data & tools
  2. Smarkets – New users get 0% commission for 60 days
  3. BETDAQ – Irish outfit with 100 days no commission deal
  4. Matchbook – Money back as a free bet if your first bet loses

Reviews of the Best Betting Exchanges UK

They say the devil is in the details, so it’s time for a closer look. With an exchange betting site like one of these above and below, it doesn’t necessary follow that they provide the fixed odds service of a traditional online bookmaker. Don’t expect to see major players from the wider industry discussed here. The leading sports betting sites in the UK offer something different, so remember that when reading our expert reviews:

1. Betfair Betting Exchange – Industry Pioneers with Historical Data & Tools

Betfair betting exchange

Widely-regarded as one of the best exchange betting sites UK punters use, Betfair have always been at the forefront of this form of gambling. Their Exchange product was the reason they were founded and sits beside a sister Sportsbook platform today. Punters can use the same account to place fixed odds wagers and bet on the exchanges.

Around 25 different sports feature among the Betfair Exchange betting options, plus sections for Politics and special bets. Their Sport Highlights indicate how much money has been matched between punters on a particular game, match, race or event. Famed for their horse racing in running markets, you can actually wager in play as well as before the off and still put each way bets on. Visit the betting.betfair blog, meanwhile, for the latest tips and insight from experts.

Thanks to their Lay Bet Calculator, how to use Exchange guide and historical data, Betfair equips punters of all ages and abilities with the tools they need for this type of betting. If there’s one area with room for improvement, then it’s the offers on this platform seem outstripped by those on the Sportsbook.

What we like:

  • Some 25 different sports to bet on
  • Live streaming options available
  • Horse racing in running markets
  • Historical data helps you find wins
  • Best odds most often on Exchange

What we don’t:

  • Fewer offers than Betfair Sportsbook

2. Smarkets Betting Exchange – New Users Get 0% Commission for 60 Days

Smarkets betting exchange

As one of the few sports betting exchanges prepared to go toe-to-toe with Betfair in terms of depth of coverage, Smarkets deserve respect. There’s a similar amount of different things to bet on here with again around 25 sports featuring. There’s slightly more non-sports wagering opportunities through sections on News and Politics, Current Affairs, and TV and Specials.

Supporting live streaming on certain horse racing meetings, Smarkets also produce cool graphics that show the percentage of the total amount staked and matched on ante post selections for major events. Notable examples of this include the Grand National at Aintree. The same great visuals are available on other sports.

You can view the last traded price on sports events to see if fellow punters are backing or laying that outcome. An in play section high up on the menu takes you straight into live exchange betting markets on the latest action. Smarkets could do with adding promotions for existing customers instead of just catering for new users with a 0% commission sign up offer covering the first 60 days after opening an account.

What we like:

  • 0% Commission new customer offer
  • Around 25 different sports to bet on
  • Live streaming of some horse racing
  • More Current Affairs & TV markets
  • Trading graphics show trending bets

What we don’t:

  • Needs more promos than sign up deal

3. BETDAQ Betting Exchange – Irish Outfit with 100 Days No Commission Deal

Betdaq betting exchange

Irish exchange betting service BETDAQ is popular in the UK too with 17 different sports included. While this isn’t as many as Betfair or Smarkets, it’s still got most bases covered. Although their promotions are acquisition heavy and aimed at new users, any welcome bonus that gives 0% commission on all sports for the first 100 days after signing up can’t be ignored. This promotion lasts significantly longer than the corresponding offer provided by Smarkets, for example.

BETDAQ has free live streaming of all UK and Irish horse racing and is competitive with Betfair in terms of the exchange markets it provides. Multiples are also allowed, while there are in-play sections so you can back and lay on live events. In another move that mirrors Betfair, BETDAQ also have a Sportsbook for fixed odds bets. There are other sister sites as well.

Thanks to BETDAQPRO, there are trading tools and other software that help you bet smarter. A tipping service is also available, which predominantly covers football and horse racing but also the golf majors, big cricket events and the NFL. Taken all together, it’s a credible alternative to Betfair, albeit one with a much smaller market share.

What we like:

  • 0% commission sign up deal for 100 days
  • In-play section for live backing & laying
  • Live stream all UK & Irish horse racing
  • Sportsbook for fixed odds bets available
  • Tipping & trading tools platforms

What we don’t:

  • Fewer sports than Betfair & Smarkets

4. Matchbook Betting Exchange – Money Back as a Free Bet if Your First Bet Loses

Matchbook betting exchange

The Matchbook exchange has a reputation for being a great place to put on multiples that contain both back and lay outcomes against fellow punters. There is even a dedicated offer open to all customers who opt in where you bet £20 on these and receive £5 free. New users, meanwhile, can avail themselves of a Money Back as a Free Bet sign up deal.

While the range of sports you can wager doesn’t compare to Betfair, they still have the biggest gambling pastimes on there headed by horse racing and football. In addition to these is exchange betting on Colossus Jackpots, an external service where you can join Syndicates and enter football pools. These include 1×2, match prediction and correct score picks across multiple matches.

You can make offers on live sports events in play and be the first to back or lay prices and odds, or take those offered by other punters. Matchbook Insights is a free tipping blog like betting.betfair that’s worth checking out for the latest expert picks. Don’t forget about their mobile betting apps for Android and iOS powered devices either.

What we like:

  • Bet £20 on multiples, get £5 free offer
  • Colossus Jackpots access for syndicates
  • Matchbook Insight blog for latest tips
  • Mobile betting apps for Android & iOS
  • Money back as a free bet sign up deal

What we don’t:

  • Only half as many sports at Betfair

What is a Betting Exchange?

Sports betting exchanges are gambling platforms that facilitate wagers between bettors and charge a small percentage in commission for the privilege. This means they act in a completely different way to online bookmakers that offer fixed odds bets to you. While the exchanges cover multiple sports, you can broadly speaking gamble for and against certain outcomes on them.

Developed as an offshoot of financial trading around the turn of the century, many professional punters prefer exchange betting sites because they can take their peers on. You make wagers against other bettors with the commission paid to the operator for acting as an intermediary for the transaction.

What is Exchange Betting?

Now that you’ve had the betting exchange explained to you as a concept, it’s time to look at what the actual wagering is. A bet on the exchanges will either be for or against something happening. If you think a particular outcome is on the cards, then you back that eventuality occurring. Alternatively, if you don’t fancy that to happen, you can place a lay bet instead.

Once your wager has been matched by another punter, then it’s all down to the sports event as to whether there’s success or failure. If your back or lay bet was the right outcome, then you win and the person who matched your stake or laid odds against it happening owes you money at the agreed price.

In the event you were wrong about the outcome, however, you lose more than the stake. You will owe the punter who took your bet or matched yours money at the odds and amount involved. Win or lose, you have to pay the exchange commission. That’s how they make money as facilitators of peer to peer bets.

How we Rank Top Betting Exchanges

  1. Available Sports & Betting Markets

    Precisely what you can bet on the exchanges, both for and against outcomes happening, plays a huge role. All sites will have the most popular gambling sports in the UK, i.e. football and horse racing covered, so it’s about how they do it and what else is available. As part of an industry leading gambling group, the coverage on Betfair is second to none in terms of both depth and breadth.
  2. Commission Percentage

    It doesn’t matter whether your exchange bets win or lose, you’re going to have to pay commission on them either way. This additional charge should be as small as possible, so you can get the most out of any winnings made from betting. Not only do Smarkets and BETDAQ provide 0% commission new customer offers for the first 60 and 100 days respectively, but thereafter only charge 2% for facilitating your peer to peer wagers on their platforms.
  3. Exchange Liquidity

    As you need fellow punters to lay prices and match your bets, liquidity in the markets where you wager is vital. This is one of the key differences in considerations between UK betting exchanges and online bookies. Again, as the big boys of this gambling niche, you can expect to find liquidity with Betfair across lots of sports and markets.
  4. Extra Features

    Additional elements shouldn’t be overlooked either. From graphics that show you where the money is going to historical data and results, plus tipping insights and live streaming opportunities, the extra features around exchange betting that can help you decide on your next wager play their part. Check out Betfair and Smarkets for some of the best tools in the sector.
  5. Offers & Promotions

    Aside from new customer offers, deals for all punters who bet on the exchanges are rare. When there are ones you can take advantage of, then, you should make them count. Matchbook provide a bet £20 on multiples, get £5 free deal available once per day to all customers.

Comparing the Biggest Betting Exchanges

While we do encourage you read our above reviews of the best exchange betting sites in the UK, there are some of you out there who prefer more visual comparisons. Just so that we cater for every punter who might find their way here, check out this table which lines up the major players against each other:

Betting Exchange Number of Sports Betting Apps Base Rate Commission
Betfair c. 25 Android, iOS 5%
Smarkets c. 25 Android, iOS 2%
BETDAQ 17 iOS 2%
Matchbook 12 Android, iOS 2%

Best Horse Racing Betting Exchange

The most popular use for these gambling platforms is horse racing exchange betting for the simple reason that you can lay runners to lose, as well as or instead of backing them to win. Just think about that for a second. Punters can lay a horse in a race and know that if any other entrant in the event is first past the post, they will profit from it.

Having the whole field running for you against one horse is an attractive gambling prospect. Laying favourites on the exchanges is a common pastime for many serious punters, who are aware that the market leader loses races on average around half of the time. If it happens more often than not or at least close to that, then why wouldn’t you do it?

Over on Betfair, punters can back or lay horses in the Win only, Places and Each Way markets, plus engage with match betting between two selected runners and even try reverse forecasts. That’s how sophisticated they have become as a horse racing betting exchange now. Exotic bets sitting side by side with other more traditional wagers.

Betfair also provides ante post markets on future horse racing events in the UK and Ireland, as well as overseas events in France like the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and beyond. These offer the chance to bet well in advance on some of the biggest races held around the world.  You can also live stream the action for free, so you’ll never miss anything important. That’s why Betfair is the perfect place for a spot of betting in running.

The Betting Exchange vs Bookmaker Sites

With exchange betting explained to you in full above, you have a basic understanding of how it works. That hints at the risks and rewards compared to placing a regular fixed odds bet. There are upsides and downsides to all forms of gambling, so you have to decide whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. In order to help you do that, our experts tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of placing an exchange bet but also a regular fixed odds wager at the bookies:

Pros & Cons of Betting on the Exchanges


  • Set the odds yourself when laying bets
  • Take bets at bigger prices than bookies
  • Wins are often much bigger as a result


  • Fewer markets than bookmakers offer
  • There’s commission to pay, win or lose
  • You can lose more than just your stake

Pros & Cons of Betting on Online Sportsbooks


  • Fixed odds bets can qualify for offers
  • No commission to pay like exchanges
  • You only lose money staked on bets


  • Prices aren’t as competitive as the exchanges
  • Successful punters have accounts restricted
  • You can’t lay to lose & must find alternatives

Best Exchange Betting App

Mobile technology has been a game changer for how we gamble. That applies to the betting exchange services as much as ordinary online sportsbooks. Apps that give you quick and easy access to your betting account are available across both Android and iOS operating systems. These provide a streamlined gambling experiences for exchange bettors today.

You can back and lay bets with just a few taps on the screen of your smartphone or tablet. Convenience is key with an internet signal on your device being all you need to get involved. The top exchange betting app, according to our experts, is Betfair as they have one separate from their Sportsbook dedicated just to this platform.

Popular Markets on UK Betting Exchanges

While the range of markets available can’t compare to the vast choice you get with regular fixed odds bookmakers, that isn’t the point of wagering on a betting exchange UK punters use. If you’re looking for a wide selection of options of what to bet on, then there are established alternative gambling services for that. The exchanges are to all intents and purposes for the following:

  • Back Bet – When you fancy a sporting outcome to happen.
  • Lay Bet – When you don’t fancy a sporting outcome to happen but aren’t obliged to back an alternative.
  • Win Bet – A wager that if back you feel will win the event in question. Laying this outcome means you believe it won’t happen and hope it loses.
  • Place Bet – With this wager, it’s about whether or not you feel that a horse, individual or team will finish within so many places of victory. Back it if you think so, or lay it if you don’t.
  • Each Way Bet – Mainly a market on a betting exchange horse racing punters use, you can combine Win and Place bets together like a traditional fixed odd wager by backing a runner each way. You can also lay horses not to win and/or be placed.
  • Half Time – What will the result be at half time in a team sports match or game? You can back and/or lay the home side winning, away side winning or the draw.
  • Both Teams to Score – Shortened on some exchanges to BTTS, Yes and No with a regular fixed odds bookmaker because backing and laying either outcome as you wish.
  • Over / Under Markets – Again popular with team sports, will there be more (Over) or Less (under) a set number of goals or points scored in the game. You decide whether to back or lay.

Exchange Betting Site Offers

We’ve already been frank with you about the rarity of promotions outside of new customer offers on the exchanges. This is because of the type of punter this gambling service aims for. Exchange betting operators aren’t so much trying to retain customers as providing a platform where you can wager against fellow punters. Semi and fully professional gamblers aren’t always swayed by the enticement of promotions like regular bettors.

The sign up offers on a betting exchange UK punters use are also limited in what they can provide to new users. Let’s take a look at the different types of deal available for new customers right now on the exchanges:

  • 0% Commission – For a set time period after signing up, it might be 60 days, 90 days or 100 days, the exchanges give you commission-free betting to get to grips with how it all works. Once that ends, however, you will have to pay fees for placing back and lay wagers on these platforms.
  • Money Back as a Free Bet – An alternative welcome bonus betting exchanges can offer to new customers is refunding their first bet if it loses with free bet tokens. This gives punters a free hit at getting their money back. Commission charges may still apply.

Bet £20 on Multiples, Get a £5 Free Bet at Matchbook


There is one regular betting offer for existing customers that our experts found over at Matchbook. This is a daily deal where if you opt in and stake £20 on multiples with minimum combined odds of 1.80 (4/5) or more, you receive a £5 free bet. All multiple types like Accumulators, Lucky 15s, Yankees, etc are eligible. You can claim this promotion once per day. Free bet tokens awarded after all legs of qualifying bet settle and expire seven days from issue. Further T&Cs apply.

How to Place a Bet on the Exchanges

There are many punters out there for whom exchange betting will be new and unfamiliar. We can help guide you through how to do it. Just follow these steps from our experts and we’ll see you right.

Step 1: Sign Up

Betfair sign up

In order to place a bet on the exchanges, you need an account with one of our recommended sites in the first place. We’re using Betfair as an example. Sign up to them by hitting the Join button and then fill out the registration form. You’ll be asked for personal details like you name, home and email address. You’ll also need to create a username and password for the account and fund it with a deposit from an accepted payment method.

Step 2: Look at the Markets

Betfair Grand National market

Once you’re all set up and ready to gamble, it’s time to find the markets that interest you. Horse racing and football are the most popular sports people bet on through the exchanges. In our example, this is the Betfair Grand National ante post win market. There’s a high amount of liquidity here with several hundred thousands of GBP matched already.

Step 3: Back or Lay Bets

Betfair lay bet

Once you’ve found a selection you either want to back or take on, add it to the betslip. With wagers for something, it’s the left-hand side of the exchange market where you click. To lay a bet, like in our above example with Le Milos in the Grand National, you add the right-hand side of the betting to your slip. Enter the sake you want on your wager and confirm them.

Step 4: Follow Your Bet

You can keep an eye on your wagers by watching the latest races or sports events through live streams or TV coverage of the action. If you’re correct about the back or lay bets placed, then you’ll have winnings in your account balance that you may want to withdraw.

Betting Exchange Strategies

If you want to know how to use exchange betting to your advantage, then help is at hand from our experts. They’ve got some top tips and helpful hints that are well worth following. While we can’t guarantee you’ll win every time by following the systems and approaches they recommend, you should more often than not make the right choice. At the end of the day, it’s about making informed decisions before gambling and there are lots of tools on the exchanges to help you do this.

Lay Favourites in Competitive Horse Races

We’ve touched on this already but, if favourites only win horse racing events around half the time, there’s money to be made in taking them on. That’s only logical. Unlike regular fixed odds wagers on horse racing betting sites, where you must back an alternative runner if you don’t like the market leader, the exchanges free you up just to wager on it losing.

This is a subtle change, but one that makes a massive difference. You don’t have to name the winner instead of the favourite, but can simply bet on it not being successful. Any lay wagers placed can only lose if you’re wrong and the market leader obliges. While that can happen, having the entire field running against them for you can stack the odds in your favour.

With the most competitive horse racing events, which are invariably large field handicaps where many are in with chances, these have the most variables that impact the favourite’s chances of success. They may end up drawn on the wrong part of the course, if it’s a Flat race like the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket, or be brought down by a horse falling in front of them in a steeplechase like the Grand National at Aintree.

Look at Place Markets for Outsiders You Fancy

Finding a winner on a betting exchange isn’t necessarily about the first past the post or backing a horse to lose. There are also place markets where you can bet for or against horses recording a finishing position within a set number. This creates a gambling angle where third, fourth and fifth place, and even beyond, can create profits.

Longshot racehorses can often outrun their fixed odds prices into the minor honours, but it’s not always easy to get a bet on them with regular bookmakers to get in the first four or five. That is where the exchanges come in. You can use them to back outsiders to get in amongst those finishing spots when fixed odds place and each way betting isn’t always available.

React to What You See on Track in Betting in Running

The complexion of horse races change in an instant. Having exchange betting strategies up your sleeve that can react to what happens in the run are really important, then. You may need to supplement your pre-race wagers by betting in running if events unfold differently to how you anticipated.

What this live exchange market allows you to do is cover or build on bets that you’ve already made. If a horse makes a costly mistake over jumps at the second last or final obstacle, then that can work for or against you. Always keep the option of betting in running open.

An infamous case in point predating this type of betting was the 1973 Grand National – the race best known for being the first of a record three victories for Aintree legend and jumps equine icon Red Rum. He stayed on from miles back to reel in the frontrunning and long-time leader Crisp to win.

Had betting in running existed at the time, then Crisp would’ve been long odds-on turning for home to win. His stamina empty on the famous long run-in from the final fence to the winning post, however, and Red Rum got up close home to win. Anyone who had laid Crisp to lose would’ve won their bet, alongside backers of the locally-trained Red Rum.


We’re calling time on our look at exchange betting in the UK. There are some good options out there and ways to make this form of gambling work for you. The best sports betting exchange today is Betfair and that’s a widely held viewpoint. This is due to its popularity creating greater liquidity in their markets than the competition, wider coverage and loads of data and extras available to support you.


How does a betting exchange work?

What is a back bet?

What is lay betting?

How do betting exchanges make money?

Which exchange is best for betting?

How does a betting exchange differ to a bookmaker?

Is BETDAQ better than Betfair?

How to make money on betting exchanges?

Jamie Clark

Jamie Clark has been with bettingsites.co.uk from the very beginning and penned the very first pieces of content that appeared right here. Known for his horse racing expertise, his strong gambling knowledge comes from childhood where he was surrounded by both horses and betting. The godson of a former on-track bookmaker at Market Rasen Racecourse, Jamie ended up working in the same industry and became Sports Editor of heavyweight bookies Coral for three years before they merged with Ladbrokes. After a successful spell freelancing for other big names in the business, he helped us launch this site with his skills, experience and ability coming in useful. Read long form content across a range of betting subjects from Jamie right here.