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Differences Between The Betfair Sportsbook and The Betfair Exchange

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The Betfair Exchange can be a very daunting prospect for a potential punter, due to its added complexity and the more professional nature surrounding betting/trading on there. One thing which surprises new punters who haven’t heard of the Betfair Exchange is the period of time that it’s been live. Most have been around for close to 20 years and are thriving now more so than ever, due to the expanding gambling industry.

Not sure if the Betfair Exchange is for you? I’ll breakdown what are the differences between a Sportsbook and a betting exchange. Hopefully that gives you more clarity and context on the subject and can help you make the decision whether you should be getting yourself involved with it.


The simplest difference between the two is the ability to both back and lay bets on the Betfair Exchange as opposed to only being able to back on a Sportsbook.

This gives the trader more control over his bet, should things be looking positive he can lay his original bet to confirm a profit and give himself a green book on his initial back. The laying option on the Betfair Exchange essentially allows you to play the part of the bookmaker and take other peoples’ bets on an outcome against your bet against it.

Very simply put, it’s backing against an outcome, so in a football match, if you lay against team A winning, you want either team B to win or the match to end as a draw for your bet to be a winner.

One other factor when placing a bet with the Exchange rather than a bookmaker is getting the bet accepted and confirmed. When betting against a Bookmaker, they’ll set the price and you take the odds at that price. Within a Exchange, your bet needs to be matched at whatever your chosen odds are by another player for it to be confirmed.


One of the most obvious changes on the Betfair Exchange is that they only work in Decimals, meaning the choice has been taken away from punters, who may choose the ‘old school’ fractions format. You can find out how to convert them in my Fractions to Decimals Betting Guide.

It’s just a set format that they’ve adhered to, as it makes the exchange easier to understand and easier to find a price and confirm your bet at. At a traditional Sportsbook company, you’d get the option of Decimal, Fractional & American Odds.

Perks of the Betfair Exchange

One of the best perks of the Betfair Exchange is that it gives you the ability to hedge your bets by either laying or backing against your original bet. Whether this be in-play when you’re in a favourable position or pre-match after the odds have moved due to team news or large sums of money being placed. I’ve discussed in many different articles that the optimum solution is to achieve a green book by ensuring all outcomes result in a profit.

The Betfair Exchange can be utilised perfectly alongside a Sportsbook to do this and lock in profit across the outcomes. Sportsbook cash out is becoming more and more popular and most of the big players offer this feature, but you’ll get a favourable return by using the Exchange.

The in-play scene on the Betfair Exchange is obviously massive and many bookmakers are getting to a level playing field with what they’re offering and how many matches they’re offering. The only issue being that if the market has no liquidity (no players betting against your outcome), then your bet won’t get matched and not confirmed.

The Betfair Exchange usually offers much better odds than Sportsbook and this has always been a key feature of the Exchange and one main reason why experienced punters prefer to use it. You’re ultimately giving yourself more value for your bet by betting at higher odds than with a Sportsbook. This is due to the fact that there is no middleman involved when betting against other players, apart from commission, but I’ll go into details about that.

Perks of Betfair Sportsbook betting

A lot of the time, the main perk that people find with the Sportsbook is the ease of access and simplicity of it in comparison to the Exchange and that’s golden for a lot of punters.

You’ll also be rewarded more by a Sportsbook with bonuses like free bets, power ups or boosts. A bonus or free bets will be very rare from an Exchange, aside from stake £, get £ promotions that certain exchanges will run.

Other details of the Betfair Exchange

One of the throwbacks of the Betfair Exchange is that you pay commission on mainly winning bets, but on some exchanges on all trades. This can sometimes counteract the positive odds difference between the Exchange and the Sportsbook, but in most cases the Exchange still offers a positive on the odds.

The commission or bookies cut is already factored into Sportsbook odds and therefore you never see it being taken. This can sometimes be the easier option for people who don’t want to do the maths etc behind a bet.

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