Betfair vs Smarkets – What is the Best Betting Exchange?

betfair vs smarkets

With a range of betting exchanges online these days, it can be difficult for matched bettors to know which is the best one to use. In this article, we'll be taking a look at two of the biggest betting exchanges, Betfair Exchange and Smarkets and ist the pros and cons of each service and when it is best to use each one.

A brief history of betfair exchange


Betfair Exchange is the biggest and most popular betting exchange online. It was launched in 2000 and has attracted millions of customers consisting of traders, punters and of course, matched bettors. If you are or have been a member of any matched betting site, you'll know that Betfair Exchange is the recommended exchange to use. There are a number of different reasons for this which we will look at below but the main advantages are that Betfair has the most users and so you can almost always get your bet matched on any market or event.

Betfair also offers a sportsbook alongside their exchange and in February 2016, merged with Paddy Power to form Paddy Power Betfair. Customers are charged 5% commission on winning bets which is higher than their main competitors and the reason why a lot of matched bettors seek alternatives fro placing their lay bets.

A brief history of smarkets

Smarkets launched a lot later than Betfair Exchange in 2008 but have quickly grown to become an exchange used by millions of bettors. The main reason users favour Smarkets over Betfair is their low commission rates. Customers are charged just 2% on winning bets compared to Betfair's 5% which can result is considerable savings over time. Some also prefer the layout of Smarkets which is generally more user-friendly and may suit beginners more.

Smarkets is solely an online betting exchange and doesn't offer a sportsbook. With being younger than Betfair and less of a well-known brand, you'll find that there is often less liquidity on markets. However, for big events, users should have no problem having their bets matched on popular markets.

which betting exchange is better?

There's no easy answer when asking which betting exchange is better between Betfair and Smarkets. Both exchanges have their pros and cons and it is recommended to have an account with both betting exchanges so that you can take advantage of what they both offer.

In order to determine which betting exchange to use at different times, below are the pros and cons of Betfair Exchange and Smarkets.

Betfair Exchange pros & cons

Why you should and shouldn't use Betfair Exchange


  • More markets than Smarkets
  • More liquidity in markets than Smarkets
  • Big brand and well-trusted


  • High commission at 5%

Smarkets pros & cons

Why you should and shouldn't use Smarkets


  • Lower commission at 2%
  • User-friendly layout


  • Less available markets than Betfair
  • Less liquidity (sometimes) than Betfair
  • Have had technical issues in the past


Both Betfair Exchange and Smarkets have their advantages and disadvantages. Betfair have the most markets available and due to the amount of customers placing bets, the liquidity is much higher meaning that your bet is more likely to get fully matched. However, the 5% commission fee is off-putting and is the main reason why matched bettors look for alternative betting exchanges such as Smarkets.

Smarkets are a worthy competitor and the 2% fee is very attractive. Matched betting is all about making as much profit as possible and lower commission rates mean more profits. 

It is advised that you have accounts at both Betfair and Smarkets and use whichever one returns the best profit. Although the odds will be similar on both exchanges, they do vary just like odds do between bookmakers and an odds matcher should tell you which exchange to use for specific bets on events & markets



Formed in 2004, Matchbook provides another alternative to Betfair. They offer a very low commission rate and are worth using when there is enough liquidity in the markets you are betting on.


With a 2% commission rate on net winnings, Betdaq charges the same as Smarkets. Listed in most odds matchers, they should be considered when their odds & fees provide the best value on your bets.