The Betfair Exchange and Sportsbook make up Betfair as a sports betting product. But what’s the difference between them?


Betfair Exchange and Sportsbook: Two products in one account


Betfair is a bit of a one-off in that offers you the facility to use it both as a betting exchange (like Betdaq) and since 2012, as a Sportsbook (similar to say Mr Green or Ladbrokes) … using the same single account.

In my golden rules of betting, I listed having several accounts as one of the rules. One of the reasons for it is that it allows you to secure best price and increase your chances of finding betting value.

Of course having numerous accounts has its disadvantages as well, such as having to distribute your money across them, plus mundane things like having to remember your usernames and passwords for each.

The advantage here is that both the Betfair Exchange and he Sportsbook are accessed with the same login details and your money is good in both of them. It’s like having accounts with two separate bookmakers but without all the hassle.


It goes some of the way to explaining why it’s on the select list of bookmakers that I recommend here at Betting Maestro. You get the best of both worlds. The secret is to know when to use one and when to use the other.

So here the secrets are all revealed as they tell you the advantages of each one.


If you’re based in the UK or Ireland, you can benefit from the Betfair Sportsbook welcome offer, where you can get up to £100 in free bets.

New customer offer. Place 5 x €/£10 or more bets to receive €/£20 in free bets. Repeat up to 5 times to receive maximum €/£100 bonus. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Exchange bets excluded. T&Cs apply.

Advantages of Betfair Exchange over Betfair Sportsbook


Higher odds

For a reminder of how Betfair came about and its raison d’etre you can read this summary here. But for the purposes of this point, it’s worth remembering that Betfair makes money as an Exchange from commission and from a Sportsbook by taking bets directly from customers. The result is that because there’s no margin built into Betfair Exchange prices, you can almost always get considerably higher odds using the Exchange than you can on the Sportsbook, assuming there’s sufficient liquidity.


Ah but what about commission?

You’d have to test this over a long period of time to see how the odds on the Exchange compare to the odds on the Sportsbook after you’ve factored in the commission you pay on winning bets on the Exchange that…applies to you. Let’s not forget that no two customers will pay the exactly the same amount of commission. In my case it’s almost always worth me betting on the Exchange and I daresay that would be the case for most people who pay 3.5% commission, or less.


Ability to lay


This of course was (and still is) one of Betfair’s big selling points as an Exchange when it first launched almost 20 years ago.

The facility to bet on something not happening is a great weapon to have in your armoury. Examples would be to lay a footballer to score a goal, lay a team to win the Champions League, lay a cricketer to score 50.

There are of course some ways that you can get around this on the Sportsbook where the lay facility doesn’t exist. Backing Manchester United on the double chance market on the Sportsbook against Chelsea is the same thing as laying Chelsea on the Exchange. Backing a game to have over 2.5 goals is the same thing as laying under 2.5 goals.

But they’re few and far between and the ability to lay anything you like on the Exchange, once again liquidity permitting, gives your betting far greater flexibility.


You can also get a separate bonus when you place your first bet on the Betfair Exchange.

New customers only, bet up to €/£20 on the Exchange and if your first bet loses, we’ll refund you €/£20 in Cash. Bet must be placed in first 7 days of account opening. T&Cs apply.


Ability to trade


The ability to back and lay throughout an event by trading, with the goal of either ending up with your profit on the eventual winner or with a profit on all runners, otherwise known as a green book, changed the betting landscape forever. In the process making Betfair customers the ‘day-traders’ of sports betting.


It has meant the days of placing a bet and hoping for the best from the moment the game began or the race was off are over. You can adjust your position an infinite number of times throughout the event. Even if your initial bet ends up being a loser, you can still make money from the event as long as at some point it shortened in price. Or you can save your fingernails by trading out at 1.2 having put a load of cash on the 1.8 favourite, for example.

For the record, attempting to do the same on a Sportsbook would be disastrous. Not only are the betting markets much slower to update the odds on Sportsbook and very often suspended during the event but rather like with the cash out, you’re giving away value with each bet you place.

For some reason trading on Betfair has gone somewhat out of fashion of late. But it’ still a very valuable tool for those who are so inclined.


No restrictions on bet stakes

If you wake up one day and decide you fancy having a 10k bet on a team to win a football match you may just find that the powers-that-be at the Betfair Sportsbook Towers (do they live in a different tower to the Betfair Exchange people, we wonder) don’t want your money. Whether they take your bet may depend on such factors as a) the exact size of the bet b) the odds at which you want to place it. c) how high profile the match is. You’re a lot more likely to get your bet accepted in a Premier League or Champions League game than a Greek Second Division one. D) Your history as a customer. Unsurprisingly you’re more likely to have your bet processed as a losing customer than a winning one.

But you won’t have to worry about your bet being taken on the Exchange. Well, you do in the sense that you may not find enough customers willing to match the other side of the bet (your bet), once again due to poor liquidity. But on a high-profile event such as: a game from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Champions League, Championship; any big tennis match; international cricket match or IPL match; any half decent horse race …you almost certainly will, whether it’s pre-match or in-play. Occasionally you may have to settle for backing your selection at say 1.96 rather than 1.98 but you should be able to ‘get on’ at a price very similar to what you wanted.

What certainly won’t happen is not ‘getting on’ for any reason other than lack of liquidity. Betfair’s slogan used to be that they ‘welcomed winners’ because they made their money through commission and so the more you were winning, the more you were paying them. That part of things certainly hasn’t changed.


Open an account with Betfair Sportsbook and get up to £100 in free bets. Betfair is Betting Maestro’s Number 1 recommended bookmaker for cricket betting.

New customer offer. Place 5 x €/£10 or more bets to receive €/£20 in free bets. Repeat up to 5 times to receive maximum €/£100 bonus. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Exchange bets excluded. T&Cs apply.




Someone’s mistake is your opportunity

Ok, so this last one is rather sneaky but all is fair in love and gambling. Whether it’s a ‘bot’ somehow suffering from a technical mistake or whether it’s human error in offering to back/lay a price that is clearly wrong, these mistakes do happen.

Years ago during a Greek Cup football match on a random Wednesday afternoon, someone mistakenly offered me odds of 20.0 on the team who had just gone 1-0 up rather than the one (they presumably wanted to lay) who had gone 1-0 down. I wasn’t trying to cheat anyone, it just so happened I was first in the queue when the bet got matched and massively benefited from the wrong price. But for eagle-eyed gamblers, blatantly wrong prices, especially after an in-play market has just been re-opened, present an opportunity.

This would never happen with the Betfair Sportsbook. Not only would their very professional traders almost certainly not make his mistake but if they did, their general terms and conditions would almost certainly allow them to rectify the mistaken price if it was obvious there had been a mistake.


You can name your price


The entry above was all about other customers making mistakes but you can secure better odds than you might at first have expected in a far fairer and more ethical way.

One of the great selling points of using the Exchange has always been that you can request odds that are bigger than what’s on offer as a backer. If the best price about Bubba Watson to win The Masters is 30.0 you can try your luck by requesting odds of say 36.0. There’s no guarantee that you will get matched but it might just be that someone is prepared to give you those odds. It may also be that whereas the ‘real’ price of Saudi Arabia beating Kuwait is 2.2, someone may just be willing to take your shorter offer of 2.06. In this sense, you’re more likely to get matched at bigger odds as a backer on a very liquid market and more likely to get matched at shorter odds (as far as you’re concerned) as a layer on a market with less liquidity because other customers have less choice.

In this sense, betting with the Sportsbook is like walking into a shop in a mall and either taking or leaving the T-shirt you like at the price on offer. Whereas the Exchange is more like buying the same T-shirt at a flea market. Within reason, there’s some room for negotiation.



Advantages of Betfair Sportsbook over Betfair Exchange



You can always get on/liquidity is never an issue


Having the Betfair Exchange and Sportsbook at your fingertips and making use of the Exchange has just been discussed. Time to focus on the merits of the Sportsbook.

A lot of what we’ve said about the advantages of using the Betfair Exchange has come with the caveat of…as long as there’s liquidity.

You’re unlikely to struggle in terms of placing your bet on more high-profile matches but the more obscure the match, the more you’ll struggle to get on, especially in-play. It’s also true that it’s not always so much about the match in question but the market as well. Getting your bet matched on the match winner is one thing; on a first goalscorer/top batsman/player to be shown a card markets is something else.

That will never happen on the Sportsbook, of course. If the Sportsbook didn’t want to lay you a bet on that market they wouldn’t have offered it in the first place!

That said, whereas in theory there’s no limit to how big your bet is on the Exchange, the Sportsbook may decide to put a limit on your wager.

Either way, for any ‘normal-size’ bets, you’ll always be able to get on.


Better for side markets


In addition to the liquidity issue mentioned several times already, you’ll also find more markets on the Sportsbook when it comes to the more colourful betting options.


Football markets involving goalscorers such as: a player to score 2 or more goals, a player to score a hat-trick and a player to be last goalscorer are present on any relatively high-profile football match in the Sportsbook whereas they may or may not be available on the Exchange at all. Very often a first goalscorer or an anytime scorer is as good as you’re going to get.

The same goes for individual players to be shown a card, to be the first in the game to be shown a card or to be sent off. Plus a load of other card markets including which team will have a player booked first, which team will have more players booked or the number of cards shown to each of the two teams.

On the Exchange you’ll generally find a three-runner market on the number of cards to be shown in the match and whether there will be a sending off in the game. But that’s it.

As regards corners markets, you’ll find the very basic ones on the Exchange such as how many corners there will be in the match and possibly which team will have the most (with the draw as an option) but not much else. Similar to the cards, you’ll find eight or ten different corner-related betting options on the Sportsbook.

It’s a similar story with cricket. Though both the Exchange and the Sportsbook offer top batsman markets, there will be a much greater variety of variations on the Sportsbook such as the top batsman in the match, a particular player to score a 50 or 100 and over/under markets on the number of runs the main batsmen will score. The Sportsbook also offers the fun and potentially very profitable man-of-the-match market for cricket and has recently been doing the same for high-profile televised football matches.


You can bet on accas


Those who have followed the history and development of Betfair over the years will remember that there was a time when you could bet on accas (which Betfair called ‘multiples’) via the Exchange.

There was a special Multiples section on the site that allowed you to pick selections from the more mainstream markets and put them together as a Multiple. The downside was that you couldn’t put selections from side markets in them and it was a somewhat controversial move because unlike everything the Exchange stood for, this time it was the company taking the liability on the Multiple rather than other customers.

But of course this all changed when Betfair launched its Sportsbook. There was no need for their Multiples section any more and you can now place as many selections as you want from whatever markets you want, together as an acca, the same way as you could with any of the other fixed odds online bookmakers. To be fair to the Betfair Sportsbook, it’s actually one of the better sites for those who love an acca.


Pit your wits against other Betfair Exchange users and get a welcome offer when you start playing on the Exchange. New users can get a free bet up to £20 to use if their first-ever bet loses.

New customers only, bet up to €/£20 on the Exchange and if your first bet loses, we’ll refund you €/£20 in Cash. Bet must be placed in first 7 days of account opening. T&Cs apply.


Welcome bonus and other promos


When Betfair first launched as an Exchange, it didn’t really have a welcome offer at all. Perhaps worse still, any offers for existing customers were normally limited to not having to pay commission on winnings or paying a smaller amount. For example, not paying commission on winnings generated from the Premier League early Saturday kick-off as a way of getting customers stuck into a big day of football. A nice gesture but when you’ve won a tenner and it means that (even applying the maximum commission rate of 5%) you get to dodge paying 50p on that you could be forgiven for thinking: ‘yeah, big deal.’

In truth it wasn’t really Betfair’s fault. The Exchange isn’t ideal from a logistical or operational point of view in terms of promos.

But the Sportsbook is and you can benefit from a load of regular offers such as free bets, risk-free bets, boosts on your accas and lots of other cool stuff.

The abundance of Sportsbook offers and limited availability of Exchange-related offers perhaps emphasises the point that these days the Exchange is more aimed at the pro punter whilst the Sportsbook is more designed for the recreational one. Nonetheless, there are still some good Betfair Exchange and Sportsbook offers available all the time so keep an eye on their promotions page.


Request your own markets


Admittedly the Betfair Sportsbok weren’t the first to do it and it’s a bandwagon many bookmakers have jumped on but the ability to request your own markets and get offered odds on them certainly adds  something to the betting mix.

You can Tweet requests for markets you want by including the hashtag #OddsOnThat   and for the most part Betfair will supply you with the market and quote you a price.

This could be anything from a treble on a particular match such as:

Salah to score + over 3.5 goals in the game + Liverpool to get 7 or more corners.

To something more specific like:

Salah scoring a free kick or

Jordan Henderson to be booked for a foul on Eden Hazard.

It may all sound a little bit gimmickey but it’s fun, adds to the customer experience and given that some of these thigs aren’t always so easy to price up, you may actually be offered some value prices on the more unusual requests.


You can also get a separate bonus when you place your first bet on the Betfair Exchange.


Boosted odds can carry real value


Requesting odds on strange things and betting on them is fun and different but probably won’t appeal to the more seasoned gambler who’s primarily concerned with betting value.

What will appeal is the Betfair Sportsbook’s Odds Boost section. More mainstream outcomes such as a particular player to score, to provide an assist or a team to win by a particular scoreline.

If you keep an eye on these markets you’ll probably end up finding a bet whose odds have been boosted that you may well have considered putting money on anyway. So the fact that it’s been boosted for no particularly good reason other than the fact that Betfair Sportsbook are looking to (no pun intended) …boost business…will obviously work in your favour.

A typical example of a price being boosted would be for it to be available at 9/4 (3.25) from 2/1 (3.0).

Doesn’t seem like much but as you’ll know from my golden rules of betting, it could be the difference between being and not being value and therefore both in the short and long run, will affect your overall P and L.


You can open an account with Betfair Sportsbook and claim £100 in free bets. 

New customer offer. Place 5 x £/€10 or more bets to receive £/€20 in free bets.
Repeat up to 5 times to receive maximum £/€100 bonus. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Exchange
bets excluded. T&Cs apply.


Related articles:


Betfair Sportsbook Review


Betfair Review 2018: How good is the Exchange and Sportsbook?


The history of Betfair: From BBQ chat to grilling the betting industry





Remember that sports betting should primarily be seen as a form of entertainment. Please bet responsibly. If you feel you need help with your gambling habits contact


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