Best Betting Exchange 2024: Betfair, Smarkets, or an Alternative?

Best betting exchange

If you’re just getting into matched betting or trading, you’ll have no doubt been looking at the likes of Betfair and Smarkets in order to decide which is the best betting exchange for you to use.

In this post we compare the four main betting exchanges to help you make a decision on which one to use going forward.

We list the pros and cons of each, as well as giving our opinions on which ones we like best and why.

To find the best exchange for you, keep reading!

Which exchange is better: Betfair or Smarkets?

This is a question that we get asked a hell of a lot, almost as frequently as we get asked for our honest thoughts on Profit Accumulator, and the truth is that it really depends on what you’re betting on and what your own individual requirements are.

For matched bettors, it is often a case of ‘Betfair vs Smarkets’ and choosing which one is most appropriate for regular use.

However, these aren’t the only betting exchanges that are out there.

The likes of Matchbook and BETDAQ are also established in the market, so we thought it would be best to cover all four in this post. There are more exchanges too, but we will stick to what we believe to be the biggest and best for this post.

As you can expect – and as is the case with most things – there are lot of positives for each.

We’ve gone into great detail below in this post to explain our selections, but we have summarised our thoughts in this table:

ExchangeReliability & UsabilityMarkets & LiquidityCommissionSign-Up
Betfair5 Stars5 StarsUp to 5% on winning tradesSign up to Betfair
Smarkets4.5 Stars4.5 Stars2% on winning tradesSign up to Smarkets
BETDAQ5 Stars3.5 Stars2% on winning tradesSign up to BETDAQ
Matchbook4 Stars3.5 StarsUp to 1.5% on all tradesTemporarily closed to UK customers.

Please note, this table is based off of our own observations and opinions, and should not be considered factual. The same is true for the rest of this post.


When it comes down to which one is the most reliable, we believe it’s Betfair.

We awarded Betfair a full 5-stars for their site reliability, and we also awarded the same to BETDAQ.

Betfair has been well established as the leading betting exchange for a number of years; they revolutionised the idea and almost single handedly took on the bookies at their own game – taking the edge away from the house and allowing punters a much more level playing field.

With this experience, they’ve grown as a company and therefore have a much bigger technical team than the likes of Smarkets does.

This means they have more IT staff and developers, but better servers too.

On extremely busy days of the year (think the Grand National, the Gold Cup, big football games etc.) Betfair will almost always stand strong. The same can be said for BETDAQ.

BETDAQ’s reliability also appears to be solid, but they don’t appear to have the user numbers to have their resources truly tested to its limits.

Will the sites ever go down?

Of course.

No site can guarantee 100% uptime, it’s a technical impossibility.

However, compared to other sites out there, we believe they’re worthy of our best possible rating in this category.

Smarkets have been known to have some difficulties from time-to-time, particularly on the extremely busy days, but it has definitely been improving in recent times.

Smarkets are always extremely quick to rectify any problems, but sometimes it may already be too late.

If you’re using Smarkets on a busy day of the year and reliability issues happen, remember to switch to an alternative exchange like Betfair as quickly as possible.

Matchbook have also been known to have a few technical difficulties with regards to running completely smoothly and without issues.

Overall, all of the exchanges work to a level that varies between ‘good’ and ‘very good’, it just comes down to the amount of times that we’ve noticed errors happening or complaints related to performance occuring.


When it comes to usability of the sites, things aren’t too different from the reliability.

For the amateur matched bettor or trader, you might find Betfair’s site a little easier to navigate at first. BETDAQ has a very similar layout to Betfair, likely mimicking them due to the success of the site.

The main reason we prefer the navigation on these sites is because they have submenus on the side of each page, which will help you narrow down your market selection.

For example, if you’ve clicked onto a football match and you want to bet on the correct score of the match, you can use the side navigation to click ‘Correct score’ on both Betfair and BETDAQ.

On Smarkets and Matchbook, you’ll have to scroll until you find your market of choice.

Smarkets go for a completely alternative design to the other three exchanges in this post, in both colour scheme and total layout of the site.

Overall, we prefer the layout of Betfair & BETDAQ for general ease, but Smarkets does have an interesting and useful time-saving feature: you can actually back and lay your bets in the search bar – without having to open up the market page.

It’s natural that once you use a site for a period of time, you get used to how it works and where to find things, too.

Market Range & Liquidity

All of the sites have an extremely diverse range of sporting events being covered.

Horse races, golf events, tennis and more sports are on offer.

With football, Betfair covers virtually any professional/semi-professional football match going (including womens and youth games) whereas the likes of Smarkets, BETDAQ and Matchbook have a huge range, but can’t cover some of the smaller events.

Betfair also has the upper-hand when it comes to the amount of markets you can bet on in each game.

For example, in football, Smarkets, BETDAQ & Matchbook cover the big hitter markets – match result, correct score, half-time/full-time, over/under 2.5 goals and a few others.

Betfair has a much more diverse range of markets to bet on; almost every market you’ll find on the bookies – and sometimes more.

It is also often the case that Betfair’s Exchange will be first to have markets open and available for betting or trading, whereas the other sites will add markets closer to the time of the event (or not at all).

The reason that Betfair can run more markets than its competitors is due to the superior liquidity that the site can offer. Because more people are betting and trading in higher quantities of money, it is worth their time to add extra markets.

The other exchanges will often find their smaller markets having less than £1,000 in matched money – or often even nothing at all – which makes it harder for them to run the markets profitably. This means that, ultimately, they choose not to add as many markets.


Commission is where Betfair fall behind their smaller competition, who are mostly using this area in their attempts to eat into Betfair’s market share.

Betfair take 5%* commission on winning bets. Smarkets and BETDAQ both take 2%, which works out to be a huge difference long-term; £3 for every £100 you win.

*This 5% can be reduced depending on your activity, it’s quite easy to get it down to 4.8 and lower even when matched betting infrequently. 

Matchbook’s commission structure is more complex; it ranges between 0.75% and 1.5%, depending on whether you ‘make’ the market (i.e. place an unmatched bet or lay and wait to be matched) or whether you accept the bet or lay of someone else. This lower commission might seem amazing on the surface, but you pay it on both winning and losing bets, which changes things significantly.

Let’s look at some figures:

If you’re matched betting at a level where you’re earning £1k+, which is probably the average monthly profit level of an OddsMonkey user, you’ll likely be placing around £100-£200 worth of bets every day.

It’s safe to assume that if you’re placing that volume of bets, you’re laying off the same amount. Assuming that half of your £200 daily bets win at the exchange, so £100 worth, that £100 x 30 days in a month = £3,000 won at the exchange.

If you ‘won’ £3,000 into your Smarkets or BETDAQ account, you’d pay a total of £60 in commission.

If you ‘won’ £3,000 into your Betfair account, you’d pay up to £150 in commission. That’s a £90 difference in your monthly profit. Over 12 months, this works out to over £1,000 profit!

When it comes to profitability on commission, Smarkets and BETDAQ win hands down – unless you put a significant amount of money through your Betfair account, as this reduces your commission on a sliding scale.

Another cost on Betfair is their notorious ‘premium charge’, which is a significant tax on their most profitable users.

It’s the costs occured on Betfair that generally put people off the site, but the majority of the market are often in agreement that the site is just too good and provides too much liquidity to be able to make a permanent move to another site.


Overall, when looking at Smarkets vs Betfair, and when considering other competitors like BETDAQ and Matchbook, it really is a toss up and you have to consider your aims and the level of matched betting or trading that you’re doing.

For complete beginners to matched betting and also for sports traders, we currently recommend Betfair. The best way to sign-up to their site is via this link.

For those putting real volume into matched betting – we’re talking hundreds of pounds a day or thousands of pounds a week – you will likely be better off with Smarkets due to the lower commission.

There’s a sign-up offer for Smarkets (£10 refunded as cash when you first lose a bet) and that’s available here.

BETDAQ and Matchbook are also solid alternatives, and both often run promotions which makes them much more profitable to use (such as Matchbook’s 0% horse racing commission), but liquidity tends to be lower on these sites in our experience.

ALSO READ: Betfair Trading for Beginners

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About the Author

This post was written by Luke Jordan. Luke founded Beating Betting at the start of 2016 and ran the site until February 2020. He is passionate about entrepreneurship, marketing and video creation.

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12 thoughts on “Best Betting Exchange 2024: Betfair, Smarkets, or an Alternative?

  1. Jim Riley says:

    What happens if you have placed your back bet (having minutes before seen that there was sufficient lay money at your desired odds in Betfair) you now find that you cannot get the lay bet matched or only partially matched since the lay money has been all or partially taken up in the few minutes it has taken to place your back bet . You are now likely lto lose your back bet unless by sheer good luck the bet wins.
    Another problem scenario is that the Bookie has the right to cancel a bet in certain circumstances –read the small print in his “rules and conditions”–leaving you with a big lay liability.-this ,however is unlikely,but still possible!
    So to say that matched or arb betting is “,risk free” is not correct or am I wrong on this or is there a strategy to avoid these risk factors?

    1. Luke says:

      In this scenario, Jim, you have to lay at higher odds. It’s still risk-free and profitable, just not as profitable as it was if you’d have got matched at better odds.

  2. Caan Berry says:

    Interesting comparison. Betfair seem to know they have the monopoly that is betting exchanges. Would be refreshing to see smarkets or one of the others really push them to take them on.

    Although I fear if that happened they would somehow buck their ideas up a bit. There’s no premium charges with smarkets right?


    1. Luke says:

      Nice of you to stop by, Caan!

      We’d love to see someone take on Betfair and offer more competition. Unfortunately, we don’t think that company is Smarkets right now.

  3. Si Holt says:

    I was shocked to read your comment about Betfair “Always reliable”. I would argue that it is anything but reliable. I quit using Betafir about 4 years ago as I found the exchange would go down regularly on a Saturday afternoon and I would be unable to place ebts or worse lay back my original bets. The website refresh was slow/unusable at times.

    Recently I opened another Betfair account to see if things had improved and the very first Saturday afternoon the exchange was down for about 4 hours!! So 4 years on, nothing has changed with Betfair, the same unreliable website and exchange.

    Just wished there was a viable, reliable alternative to the unreliable Betfair

    1. Luke says:

      Thanks for your comment Si. I have to say that this is in complete contrast to the vast experience we have with Betfair over the past 3 years or so, and with the experiences of many, many matched bettors and traders that we work with and speak to.

      There was a recent issue of downtime on Betfair, but downtime is nothing compared to the likes of Smarkets that have a tendency to show that you’re unmatched on bets that you’re actually matched on, or have bets disappear entirely so you have no record of a bet unless you contact them via live chat. This option is obviously not a viable option when you are covering 20+ bets a day as you don’t spot the mistakes until it’s too late and cost you a lot of money. The worst part is there’s never any form of compensation – they’d rather roll out ‘new’ features (that Betfair have already offered for years) rather than fix their continual errors.

      Always happy to have a bit of debate on the site, thanks for stopping by!

  4. steve says:

    can you bet from any country in the world on smarkets.?

    1. Luke says:

      I’m not sure on that, you’ll have to check their terms and conditions. I’d say that is unlikely to be honest, Steve.

  5. Betunfair says:

    Betfair have this market completely wrapped up at the moment which is why they can get away with charging 20% commission to successful customers (played through 300 markets and +ve P&L etc etc) and 40% commission to those even more successful still that have a +ve P&L of >£250k. As soon as another exchange is able to attract the sort of liquidity that betfair has (no one is any where near close at the moment) betfair will have to drop these premium charges which effectively amount to income tax. I hope Smarkets gets there but they need to make their interface more appealing and functionality more user friendly – in short more similar to Betfair

    1. Luke says:

      I agree, seems like they have it nailed at the moment. They’re experimenting with 2% commission on the football currently, too – that could be massive for fighting off the challengers!

  6. Pete S says:

    “Zero risk” is inaccurate. It’s a phrase that is usually used inaccurately.

    Matched betting is low risk. The risk of the largest loss comes from the possibility that the bookie making the offer is about to close. Closure can be caused by fraud, or by running out of cash. It happened to me a few years ago, and by the Rule of Sod, my winning bet was with the dodgy Bookie, and therefore the loss was a multiple of my £50 deposit.

    It’s not zero risk, it’s low risk. You can keep the risk lower by taking shorter price bets when you’re dealing with flakey bookies, though you do need to check their terms about minimum odds.

    1. Luke says:

      You’re correct Pete, but where do you see us say zero risk? We agree with you, and any ‘zero’ or ‘no’ risk content was changed to say “low risk” quite a while back.

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