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The best betting exchanges in the UK

Betting Exchanges

More likely than not, while on your online betting adventures you have come across betting exchange sites. Pioneered by Betfair, the betting exchange offers an exciting different format to the traditional bookmakers who set the odds for you.

What is a betting exchange?
In betting exchanges you are betting against other punters in a peer to peer system. So that cuts out the middleman of the bookmaker, which means that you don’t have to worry about bookmaker’s betting margins for example.

Top Betting Exchange Sites

Please note that all ratings are based on our personal experience. T&C`s Apply.

Betting margins are the little extras that bookmakers add on to odds to make their money with. With that not being a thing at betting exchanges, then it helps them to deliver better value.

At a betting exchange, you pay commissions on your winning bet and the value that punters continue to take from places like Betfair means that exchanges continue to thrive. They are often seen as being a lot more favourable for odds than traditional bookmakers.

A betting exchange like Betfair, Matchbook or Ladbrokes, offers something different. That means that there could be a bit of a learning curve in getting used to them. But they are something that should be checked out because it can add a new dimension to your betting. Different is not a bad thing at all.

One of the most notable features about the betting practices on an exchange is that you can both back and lay bets. That means you throw money at a selection to win (back), or you can pick out a selection to lay which means that you are picking an outcome NOT to happen. If you want to learn more about it, please read our guide how to to lay a bet.

Main Advantages of a betting exchange:

  • The bookmaker edge is not there, so you can find higher odds than at a traditional bookie in many circumstances.
  • You can set your own odds
  • Green Book situations (no loss) can be created on markets
Do you need more information to feel confident? We have some more advantages of betting exchanges.

Betfair – world’s biggest betting exchange

The world of sports betting has continued to grow and reshape itself since its beginnings. Perhaps one of the biggest events was the arrival of Betfair because they just shook things up in the online betting world. They delivered the betting exchange, which just flew in the face of traditional betting methods.

This is one of the great things about technology. Now and again something so revolutionary comes along that you just have to sit up and take notice. It’s pretty hard to ignore and the rise of exchange betting has opened up whole new avenues for entertainment for those who want to do more than simply have a flutter on the ponies.

<!–BetfairA screenshot taken of the Betfair Exchange in August 2019–>

The UK betting exchange environment has consistently been full of pioneers in the industry, but new names are popping up all the time and they are worth incorporating into your betting ‘portfolio’ for options when having a punt. Don’t dismiss any new operators, just because they are new. If people did that, Betfair and other betting exchanges wouldn’t be what they are today.

Market Value

As there is no central bookmaker with a betting exchange, there are many advantages available to punters. One of the main advantages which attracts customers to betting exchanges is the increased market prices available. Prices on market selections are generally a bit more generous because the bookmaker edge is not in existence.

So this means that you can find higher odds than at the normal bookie in many circumstances. A simple odds comparison will allow you to find your proof of that. How the betting exchange takes its cut, is by having punters pay a small commission on their winnings. But this is generally smaller than the cost of taking lower market prices to cover traditional bookmakers odds.

How do betting exchanges work?

Additionally, because of the way that Betting Exchanges operate, you can even play the role of a trader and offer (LAY) betting odds if you want to take that alternate route for your sports betting. There is also a brisk trade in ‘made bets’, which allows you to buy and sell the work of other punters before a match even takes place!

You will want a careful eye for detail, but ‘selling’ your made bets and thus harvesting the crop before the match you had bet on even starts, is a way to try and spice things up if your regular betting has gotten stale.

Essentially, betting exchange software allows you to bet against other punters directly instead of betting against a bookmaker. Advanced sports investors can take advantage of betting exchange arbitrage or trading to score themselves a little extra, all through the exciting formats available at betting exchanges.

New or old, betting exchanges offer another exciting element of gaming to sports investors. Many have very low starting costs, so there is no reason not to give them a try if you are curious about the opportunities they offer.


Lay Betting Liability

This is one area that punters will need to understand. Not only because it may be a new way of betting, but because it is a different kind of risk that perhaps one is not used to. When you lay a bet, you are trying to win the stake of a Backer on that market.

If for example, you Lay Real Madrid at 2.52 on the Exchange that means your liability is 1.52 per unit of stake. So if you tried to win £10 then your overall liability in money terms is going to be £15.20, but what does Liability mean?

Well, let’s say you tried to win £10 of a Backer’s Stake at a liability of £15.20 but Real Madrid won the match. You failed with your Lay bet. That losing bet just cost you £15.20 in Liability. You were risking £15.20 to try and win £10. The Liability is what you are prepared to risk to win an x-amount of a Backer’s Stake.

So if you saw Lay odds of 40 but you misread it at 4.0 and you played for a £10 Backers Stake, and the Lay bet lost. You would be out of a massive chunk of money. At Betfair for example, when you make a Lay bet, they will remove the full Liability from your balance to cover for the worst-case scenario. It will be back in your account if you win you Lay bet.

Decimal Odds

Because Decimal odds are easier to read and easier to calculate the fractional odds, you will see the bulk of betting exchange action going down in decimal odds. It is worth familiarizing yourself with it to this end. It is going to be a lot less complicated in trying to figure out returns and liability when you do it in decimal odds.

Betting exchange Green Book betting

When you start getting into betting exchanges you will invariably come across the term of Green Book. What this is, is when a punter creates a situation when they will claim a return no matter the outcome of a particular market. So a Green Book is creating a balanced situation.

This does take some understanding and time to get down. There are elements involved like time and judgement to get this just right. As with any betting that you do at a betting exchange it also needs any bets made to be matched. A matched bet is where you either take a bet at odds that have been presented by another punter, or you set a lay bet option at your desired odds and wait for someone to oppose it.

In a Green Book, you can take the example of one horse, let’s call the runner Bookies Worst Nightmare, lining up in a race.

  1. You Back Bookies Worst Nightmare to win at 6.00 odds with a £100 investment
  2. Positive Outcome: You win £500 plus the return of £100 stake
  3. Negative Outcome: You lose the £100 stake


  1. You Lay £100 on the horse (not to win) at 3.00
  2. Positive Outcome: You win the £100 that you are playing for
  3. Negative Outcome: You lose £200 in Liability

Scenario A: The horse wins you claim £500 from the Back bet, minus the £200 Liability from the Lay Bet so you take a £300 total.

Scenario B: Bookies Worst Nightmare does not win the race and the Lay bet returns £100, minus the £100 stake from the losing Back bet. So you have broken even.

So the basic aim is to try and find that balance between odds, where instead of the Lay bet just covering the outlay of the stake on the Back Bet, you can earn some kind of return from the Lay bet. That is just all in the odds and it is why Lay betting and exchange betting in general needs some familiarizing with.

Betting Exchange Strategies

Because betting exchanges can provide a lot of betting variations and at varying degrees of complexity, a look a strategies can offer punters a good insight into the workings of a betting exchange.

Betting exchanges strategies can be a good way to get a deeper understanding of just how an exchange can work for you. As with all strategies, none is going to work 100% perfectly all of the time. 

But approaching strategies from an informative perspective can help get more out of the experience. They will give you a plan to work towards and nuggets of information that you may never have thought of.

From trading live tennis matches to laying golf bets, we have plenty of betting exchange strategies available to get your up and running.

Betting Exchange Help and Guidance

Don’t worry though if there are things about Exchange Betting that you aren’t quite sure of. Betfair have superb support and they are packed to the rafters with helpful guides and video instructions to help you get a grasp on what you need to know.

There is also a great community in their forum if you want even further help and guidance. The information is out there and it’s well worth taking some time to look around and getting as much of it on board as you can. There is a lot to enjoy about betting exchanges, they can be challenging, fun and rewarding all at the same time.

Which are the best betting exchanges?

You can click on any of the links above and go and read our full review of the best betting exchanges. It is a helpful thing to go and see them in action yourself because that way you will get a personal feel for them.

We have sent our experienced bettors to look at, and test out the different exchanges and that is all of the information that you are going to be able to find above. But as a quick oversight, here are our top picks of the best betting exchanges.


This was always going to be at the top of our rankings. Betfair are the ones who really pioneered a whole new way of betting, put it all together in a brilliant online package and that’s why they are still going to strongly and why they are seen as the industry leader.

They have such a big base of followers and you can visit their forum to explore the community and see that for yourself. It is just the simple operation of the exchange itself, which is excellent. As exhanges go, Betfair is easy to use with its clear layout.

They have big extra features as well including an actual traditional sportsbook if that is your thing, you also get things like cash out, an each-way edge and a tremendous variety of live streams as well. You can take it all with you with a superb mobile app too.

Visit Betfair


Alongside their traditional sportsbook, Ladbrokes have added an exchange. It is a pretty big one at that and nicely laid out as well. There is a wonderfully varied amount of betting markets that can be found in there and they have an expansive in-play service on the exchange as well. One of the aspects of the Ladbrokes exchange that will probably appeal to punters is that it feels very uncomplicated. You can also enjoy live horse racing streams when you place a bet on a race in the Ladbrokes exchange. They deliver a very straight forward, betting exchange experience.

Visit Ladbrokes


Smarkets are one of the newer players to the world of online exchange betting. They have a very cool layout and website design as well, that should offer a lot of appeal for punters. Their commissions are low and we found their live in-play betting section exceptional. It is easy to see where the traded money is going and they cover a lot of sports and we also found a lot of non-sports markets available too. They get top marks for their website which is one of the best in functionality and user-friendliness that we found among all betting exchanges.

Visit Smarkets