Updated Updated: 2024

Betting Exchanges Explained | Complete Guide 2024


Using a betting exchange can be a little bit complex at first, especially if you have never had the pleasure of using one before. By using an online betting exchange, UK gamblers have the opportunity to bet against their fellow gamblers, instead of going against the bookmaker. This can be advantageous for a few different reasons. Today, we’re going to be exploring those reasons and explaining how you can use betting exchanges.

UK online bookies offering betting exchange

Betting Exchange Explained


Simply put, a betting exchange enables you to either offer odds to or request odds from other users. This means that you are working with your fellow gamblers, instead of with a bookmaker. When you bet with a bookmaker, you have to bet alongside your fellow gamblers, whereas a betting exchange allows you to match your bets against each other.

This level of transparency means that you can either offer or request odds that are much better than those that can be found among bookmakers. Naturally, this makes the entire experience feel more like a level playing field and more enjoyable because of that.

Betting Exchange vs. Bookmakers

When we look at both betting exchanges and bookmakers as gambling options, we can see that there are a few advantages that come with using a betting exchange instead of using a bookmaker. These include:

1. Choice

In our opinion, one of the best things about using a betting exchange and not a bookmaker is the fact that you have more choice regarding what you bet for or against. For example, a bookmaker might never want to risk the odds that you want if they don’t feel like those odds will benefit them financially.

But, with a betting exchange, you only need one other person on the exchange to decide that the risk is actually worthwhile. This can really enable you to push the odds to where you want them to be. You might also be able to find other users who are willing to bet on relatively niche markets that are harder to find with bookmakers.

2.  Financial Gain

Because you can really chase the best odds, you can often stand to make more money with betting exchanges than you can with bookmakers. But, you can also use them to receive the true odds that you would never get from actual bookmakers.

Bookmakers need to make sure that they maintain a healthy profit margin and they often do that by offering odds that are slightly less than the true odds would be.

betting exchange vs bookmaker

3. Flexibility

Using a betting exchange is much more flexible than using a traditional bookmaker, as there are hundreds of thousands of bets that are being placed on an hourly basis by different users. You don’t have to worry about the initial financial outlay either. If a user decides to place a bet that is too high, then it might not be backed by any other users on the platform.

This is usually enough to keep people placing sensible bets, as a bet that doesn’t get matched isn’t worth anything. You might also be able to trade your positions on markets when you are using a betting exchange, and doing so is much easier than it would be with a bookmaker.

4. Lifelong Accounts

Anyone who has ever had a successful streak with a bookmaker might already be aware of the fact that bookmakers close user accounts. This happens because bookmakers don’t like to feel threatened. A good gambler will eat into their own profit margin and that is quite literally the opposite of what they want to happen.

Closing accounts, for this reason, is illegal in many countries around the world, but it is still completely legal here in the United Kingdom.

Betting Exchange Markets

One of our favourite things about using betting exchanges is the fact that they often offer more markets than traditional bookmakers do. This is because there are more individuals using betting exchanges and that alone is enough to open the door to unique markets.

Remember that you only need one user to back your bet for your bet to be successful. This means that you will have the opportunity to bet on everything from football and horse racing to novelty specials.

If you have a particular sport in mind, then we would highly recommend that you take a look at Betfair to see whether or not your sport is an option.

How to bet on exchanges

One of the best things about using a betting exchange is the fact that you can go and place a lay bet. A lay bet involves selecting which individual or team will lose, instead of selecting who you think will go on to win. It’s often easier to select who you think will lose.

We would highly recommend that you look for our lay betting guide because you can use betting exchanges to guarantee a return if the odds do shorten after you have placed your bet.

The Betfair exchange is often considered to be one of the best because it was the first betting site to allow the use of lay bets and they have since become an iconic part of the industry. You also have the choice to use BETDAQ which is an operator that specialized in betting exchanges.

Different types of bets

1. Back betting

If you have previously placed bets with a proper bookmaker, then you should find back betting quite easy. Back betting involves betting on what you believe the outcome of something will be. For example, you might be betting on who the winner of a boxing match will be or which horse and jockey duo will win a race. Naturally, you will also have to select your odds.

This essentially means that the betting exchange functions in a similar way to how a traditional bookmaker would, but the traditional bookmaker has actually been replaced by other betting exchange users. We would highly recommend that you start to look at how Betfair works because the markets on the platform can actually fluctuate quite a lot.

how exchange betting works

2. Lay betting

Lay betting is quite a unique concept if you have never placed a lay bet before and it will take a little bit of getting used to. At its simplest, lay betting basically involves you becoming the bookmaker. You have to offer odds to the other users, and you’re more often than not deciding who you think will lose. You can also select the current lay odds or see whether or not anyone will match your own odds.

Remember that you only actually need one other person to decide that your chosen odds are worthwhile. If you think that you can get one other person to, then you should select the odds that you want to go for.

If you are new to the world of gambling, then we would recommend that you start with back betting. This is because lay betting often comes with higher risks.

If you’re the type of gambler who likes to take risks, then lay betting will probably be quite appealing to you.

A successful bet

Whether or not the bet that you place is successful will depend on whether or not it can be successfully matched with another person’s bet. Most of the time, the bets that you place will be matched in full, but sometimes they will be returned to you unmatched or only part of your bet will be matched. If this happens, then you will get your money back.

If your bet is unmatched, there is still the possibility that it will find a backer before the event. This is because of the way that things fluctuate on betting exchanges. You will also have the option to adjust your odds or stake to improve the likelihood of your bet being matched. Once your bet has been matched, you will not be able to cancel it.

Fair bets

betfair exchange

One of the main problems that people have had in the past with using betting exchanges involves questioning whether or not betting exchanges are actually safe to use and fair for everyone. Most of these thoughts initially came from bookmakers, who wanted to make sure that they maintained their own profit margins.

In the past, the actual integrity of betting exchanges has also been questioned. The concept that people who are involved with events could have been able to place bets was a difficult one, and one that could have opened up a tunnel of problems.

Luckily, Betfair has since made deals with various sporting organisations, offering users a transparent approach that makes information visible.

The financial side

If you have placed bets with bookmakers in the past, then you will already be aware of just how easy it can be to lose the money that you are betting. If you win big, then you run the risk of having your account closed. Using a betting exchange is quite different.

Luckily, you only actually have to pay a commission with Betfair if you make a net profit. This means that you won’t be charged a commission if you lose the bet that you place. If you are a loyal customer, then you will receive a percentage discount based on how much money you have spent on the betting exchange.

Most of the time, the rate of commission that you pay will be around the 5% mark.

People who have made and spent a lot of money using the Betfair exchange has managed to get their commission down to the 2% mark. This makes sense, as they are more likely to earn profits that Betfair can then charge a commission on.

Taking a holiday

betfair holiday

On the Betfair platform, you earn points for all of the money that you spend on the exchange. These points are quite unique, as they will start to erode if you spend time away from the platform.

If you plan ahead, you will be able to schedule in a “Betfair Holiday”. These holidays involve freezing your points for a week so that you can delay the point at which they start to erode.

Staying safe on betting exchanges

Betting exchanges are very similar to bookmakers in that they promote sites like www.gambleaware.co.uk. They also allow users to set limits on their accounts.

You don’t have to worry about the risk of betting exchanges closing your account, nor do you have to worry about how they make their money. Betting exchanges charge a commission, meaning that they make money regardless of whether you win or lose your bets.

Using a betting exchange

There you have it, the world of betting exchanges is both simple and complex. A betting exchange gives you every opportunity to bet with other users, deciding what your own odds will be and waiting to see whether or not anyone on the platform is willing to back them. This can give you the opportunity to benefit from better margins.

Naturally, this can give you the opportunity to benefit from better prices, more versatility and a revolutionized industry. Who wouldn’t want control over that many different aspects when placing their bets?


A betting exchange is a gambling platform that you can use to place bets against other users. This gets rid of the position of the bookmaker, and it can lead to better odds than traditional betting because you only need to find one other user who is willing to match your bet.

We would highly recommend that you use the Betfair exchange if you are new to the world of matched betting.

The Betfair exchange is the most reputable company in the industry, and was the first company to offer punters the opportunity to place lay bets.

Your bets on a betting exchange can be as small or as large as you want them to be. Try to remember that you need another user to back your bet. This means that larger bets might not be matched straight away and some might not be matched at all.

The number of betting exchange sites is quite limited, however, the operators offering betting exchange platform are totally legit and often cover normal sports betting too. There are the most known betting exchange sites you can use from The UK:

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