Betfair is a great online bookmaker but should you use the Betfair Sportsbook or the Exchange?

Betfair have got you covered pretty much whatever you want to bet on and however you want to bet. They offer slots, poker, bingo, online casino games, virtual sports and more. However, if it’s sport and other events, such as politics or reality TV, you want to bet on, the place to head is the Sportsbook…or the Exchange.

The question is, which is better and should you use Betfair’s Sportsbook or their Exchange product?

What is a betting exchange?

A betting exchange differs from a traditional bookie in that you place bets against other punters, not a particular betting site. The exchange is the middleman, matching up two separate people who have the opposing opinion on a bet.

You can choose to take either side of a wager, either putting up a stake to back a selection, or covering the liability by laying a selection. In the latter instance you effectively become the bookmaker and accept someone else’s bet on a particular sport or event.

Betfair’s Exchange holds the money of both parties and then settles things accordingly once the bet is settled. They take a small commission on winning bets (5% is the standard fee) but claim that even allowing for this their odds are higher than you will find elsewhere.

With an exchange there are no fixed odds, with prices effectively set by the market. Prices depend on what money is available at Betfair on both sides of the wager and the odds can move quickly as money is bet.

The system can seem a little complex at first but the Betfair Exchange has millions of customers and so it really can’t be that hard! Once you have placed a few bets you’ll rapidly get the hang of things and Betfair has loads of great tutorials and guides too.

Pros and Cons

Both betting suites have their ups and downs and there is no reason why you wouldn’t use both. Total newcomers might well be better suited to the Sportsbook because it is definitely simpler to use and understand. Moreover, the Betfair Sportsbook £100 free bet offer is really generous, with no other major, respectable UK betting site offering more in free bets.

The Sportsbook is also better for obscure events and markets because it offers a wider range of bets than you will find at the Exchange. Moreover, on the smaller markets, even where the Exchange covers them, there may not be anyone willing to take the other side of the bet, especially not at decent odds.

The Sportsbook also has the advantage of being able to offer more promotions and freebies. There are some in the Exchange but because you are really betting against other people, not Betfair, it isn’t as easy to offer promos.

Benefits of the Exchange

On the other hand, the Exchange is great for really seasoned punters who are wanting to place big bets on popular markets. That’s because there is no risk of getting limited to smaller stakes or banned entirely. The only limit to how much you can bet is what’s available and on major football matches, races and other big events that can easily stretch to five figures or more.

The Exchange at Betfair is also very good if you like backing outsiders with smaller stakes. The odds on correct scores in football (just to use one example), dark horses in racing or pretty much anyone in golf, will often be much longer. Even after Betfair’s commission, the odds in these cases can be 10%, 20% or even more, higher.

Last of all the exchange is great for maximum flexibility. You can back, lay, trade, hedge and alter your stake as and when you feel. That said, with the increasing availability and functionality of cashout, the Sportsbook offers some of those options.

Even with partial cashout though, you don’t quite have the same flexibility offered by Betfair’s first product. Again, this is mainly a benefit to more serious punters, with cashout usually more than enough for your average recreational bettor.


As said, there are advantages and disadvantages to both the Sportsbook and the Exchange. We use both, depending on what we want to bet on, the flexibility required and the odds available. If you are yet to join Betfair just head there now and get involved! With £100 of free bets in the Sportsbook, that’s a great place to start before moving on and adding the Exchange to your armoury too!