Best Betting Exchange Sites in Ireland for 2024

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to sports betting exchanges and the very best betting exchanges available right now, covering the best betting exchange sites, apps, and the matchbook betting exchange.

It’s all right here, so dive in ➡️ 

Best Betting Exchange Sites

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What Is a Betting Exchange?

Most people could tell you what a sports betting site offers, but ask 100 people how a betting exchange works, and there probably wouldn’t be more than 10 that could tell you. However, the premise of a betting exchange is pretty simple.

Whereas with a bookmaker you place bets on particular sporting outcomes against fixed odds as decided by the bookmaker, on a betting exchange you are not betting against the operator, but other punters. So it's a place where people can go to offer bets out (laying a bet) to other people who would like to take on that bet (backing a bet). The betting exchange earns by making a commission from the winning bets placed on the exchange. That’s pretty much it!

Table of content:

How Does a Betting Exchange Work?

As we have already seen, a betting exchange is a marketplace where people can go to lay bets and back bets. So whereas with a conventional bookmaker or sports betting site you place a bet at odds that are entirely decided by the operator (and the operator wins when you lose, just as a casino), a betting exchange works on the premise of bringing people together to set up their bets.

So if a betting exchange doesn’t set the odds or take the money from losses, how does it earn? Well, a sports betting exchange takes a commission of the winning bet, so unlike a conventional sports betting site, it’s not in the best interests of a betting exchange for you to lose. The commission that an exchange charges is different from site to site, so that’s always one of the first things you should check.

And that, in a nutshell, is how a betting exchange works. There are additional features, such as the opportunity to place matched bets, which in effect reduce the amount of risk involved in your bet. And the amount that you win from backing a bet depends on how much liquidity is in the market for that bet – in effect, how many people are laying and betting on that outcome.

As you can see, the premise of a betting exchange is simple, but there are some variations that can make things seem a little more complex to the uninitiated. That’s why we thought it would be a good idea to go through some of the key terms. 

Betting exchange terminology

Here we run through some of the key terms you should be aware of when venturing into using sports betting exchanges:

  • Backing a bet: Backing a bet is what you would be used to doing with a conventional bookmaker. Do you think Manchester City is going to win? So you bet on that outcome at the odds the bookmaker has decided. Backing a bet on sports betting exchange is the same concept, except the odds are not set by the exchange
  • Laying a bet: Laying a bet means that you are now playing the role of the conventional bookmaker. So think Liverpool is not going to win the game? Then you 
  • Liquidity: Liquidity is the amount of money that is being layed and backed on a particular outcome. So you do not decide the liquidity of a particular bet, that is all decided by the market, and the odds are affected directly
  • Liability: Liability is your risk – how much do you stand to lose if you lose your bet. When you back a bet, then your liability is simply the stake that you place (as you would on a regular sports betting site). If your bet loses, you lose your stake. However, when you lay a bet, your liability depends on the odds that the other punter is backing the bet on (so now you can see yourself as the bookmaker – if you lose your bet at 3/1 then clearly you must pay out less than if the odds were 4/1)

How to Calculate Your Liability at Betting Exchange Sites?

As we have already seen, your liability when you’re backing a bet on sports betting exchange is the same as it is with a conventional bookmaker – the stake amount. However, when you are laying a bet, things get a little more complicated because it depends on the odds. And if those odds increase, then the amount you are risking increases. At all times you must have enough funds in your betting exchange account to cover the amount you are laying.

So how do you calculate your liability on a lay bet? Well, it’s good to know that the best betting exchanges with include a liability calculator when you can simply enter the amount the other customer wants to back with, set against the odds, and your liability will be calculated.

But there is also an equation you can use for the process, which is as follows:

Liability = Backer’s stake x (lay odds – 1)

So let’s see this in simple terms. The backer wants to bet €10 on Manchester United to win at odds of 2/1 or 3.00. The sum is, therefore:

€20 = €10 x (3.00 – 1) 

Your liability is €20!

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Bookmakers vs Betting Exchange

So how exactly are bookmakers and betting exchanges different? Why would you use a betting exchange when there are so many (great) sports betting sites available on the market. That’s a great question, and one we enjoy answering.

First up is a question of who sets the odds. On a bookmaker’s site, the odds are 100% decided by the bookmakers themselves. Of course, there can be slight differences between the odds that the operators are offering but in most cases those odds factor in the risks that the sports betting site is taking on. That’s understandable but doesn’t always lead to the most generous odds for the punter. However, on a betting exchange, the odds are decided almost exclusively by the liquidity of the event, meaning the number of people (and the money) that is being put on the event. That means that you can find some pretty juicy odds.

Speaking of the odds, the reason why odds are not always as generous as you might hope with a sports betting site is because the cost of betting with the bookmaker is factored into those odds. With sports betting exchange, the exchange only gets paid through commission (usually between 2-4%) of the winning bet, so the odds therefore more generously (or accurately) reflect the possible outcome. 
And then, of course, is the fact that you can lay a bet on an exchange – something that only the bookmaker does on a sports betting site. In this way you are, in effect, taking on the role of the bookmaker, so this gives you much more freedom with your choice of options. In effect, if you can find someone who is willing to bet against the outcome (or outcomes) you support, then the bet can be arranged. You have much more autonomy this way. 

Betting Exchange Pros and Cons

We have made those comparisons between betting exchanges and sports betting sites, and have alluded to the pros and cons, but here we explicitly lay bare what we consider to be the pros and cons of the betting exchange when we look at what we get from those more traditional style of bookmakers. Here we go:

Betting Exchanges Pros:

  • Better odds: Very often you will secure better odds on the outcome you are looking for, so the rewards are greater
  • More autonomy: Because you can lay as well as place bets, you can choose with much greater independence how you want to bet

Betting Exchange Cons:

  • Fear of how it works: Because exchanges are a different concept to bookmakers, many people have this fear of using them. In reality, exchanges are not complicated to use, but the fact they are ‘different’ and use some slightly different terms can intimidate people
  • Higher risk: When you lay a bet you do not set the odds at which you lay, so the risk that you take on can potentially be greater than what you factor. In this way, your losses can be more than placing a traditional stake with a bookmaker

How to Choose a Betting Exchange Site?

With lots of betting exchanges available to play with on the market, much like bookmakers, how do you set about choosing the sports betting exchange to play with. We have narrowed it down to four simple criteria for you to bear in mind:

  • Trust and reputation:

Like anywhere you choose to spend your money, what is the reputation of the brand? Always choose a site that is well regarded, and has all of the proper and correct support functions in place (a variety of banking options, customer support services, a full list of terms and conditions, fair policies, and payment clauses). Most of the best-known operators will tick your boxes here, but make sure you do your research first

  • Market options:

Make sure that the betting exchange you are going with has the full list of market options that you are looking for on the sports you like to play. The last thing you want is to go through the steps of registering only to discover the markets you are interested in are not there. The biggest sports are markets are usually well covered by all, but if you prefer something a little more niche, dig deep to see what’s available on each exchange before taking the plunge, never just assume that something is going to be there

  • Commission rates:

Is the commission rate charged by the site fair? Could you be making better returns elsewhere by being charged less commission? Do you research to make sure you have the balance you need (fair commission along with market variety)

  • Welcome bonus:

Much like sports betting operators, betting exchanges like to entice customers with welcome packages. Have a look around to see what is currently available and select the one that offers the most value, along with all the other considerations we have listed here. Often exchanges will have additional bonuses and features too, with options such as live streaming an added bonus, so check out what’s available

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Betting Exchange Tips and Strategy

If you’d like to start using sports betting exchange for the first time, it’s a really good idea to follow some simple tips and strategies when doing so. We’re here to help, so here is our advice to using the best betting exchanges.

  • Do your research first: We recommend this no matter if you’re using a traditional sports betting site or a betting exchange. Always do the necessary reading first to make sure that the exchange you use provides the opportunity to back and lay the bets you are interested in. Furthermore, what kind of commission will be taken on those bets!
  • Check your liability: If you are laying your bet, you must absolutely calculate your liability first. That’s because, unlike when you are backing a bet (or placing a bet with a bookmaker), you stand to lose more than just the stake amount. We have included here an equation on how to calculate your liability, or you can always use a liability calculator that you will find on the best betting exchange websites. And if your liability is too great, then just do not take on the bet!
  • Don’t blow your budget on one bet: Set yourself a betting budget (that you can easily afford) and don’t blow everything on one big bet. Although the return may be greater, if you lose, it’s game over
  • Take advantage of welcome offers: Just like sports betting sites, sports betting exchanges offer a host of bonuses and promotions, including welcome offers. Shop around and take advantage of those that suit you best
  • Visit forums: Betting exchange forums offer a host of insights into the workings of exchanges – spend time on them, chat with like-minded individuals, and keep educating yourself
  • Place practice lays: Backing a bet is pretty straightforward, especially if you are used to betting with bookmakers. But if you are looking to lay bets, and have never done it before, then start small with little practice lays to see how it all works and how the liability kicks in
  • Shop around for value: Value on your bets can differ from site to site, so shop around the exchanges and open an account with more than one so you can go where the value if for that particular bet
  • Check out the betting exchange apps: Play on the go with the great variety of betting exchange apps that the big boys of the market offer

FAQ's

Are betting exchanges legal to play in Ireland?

Absolutely. Betting exchanges are regulated and licensed in the same way as traditional sports betting operators and are perfectly legal to play in Ireland

What are the best know sports betting exchanges?

Among the best known and most popular sports betting exchanges on the market are Betfair and BETDAQ, Smarkets, and the Matchbook betting exchange. Ladbrokes have a betting exchange, and Spreadex is another well respected brand

How do I calculate my liability when laying a bet?

Most betting exchanges will include a liability calculator that you can easily use, otherwise you can remember this simple equation: liability = backer’s stake x (odds – 1)

Is laying a bet more risky than backing a bet?

Laying a bet is more risky in that you cannot control the amount you stand to lose. Of course, if you lay a bet for a team not to win, then you are laying against two outcomes (the win and the draw), but because the lay stake is dependent on the odds, you stand to potentially lose more than if you back with a set stake

What kind of commissions do betting exchanges charge?

The commission is only taken by betting exchanges when a bet is won, unlike traditional bookmakers who gain from your use. The typical rate of commission is anywhere between 2% and 4% of your winnings, but make sure to do your research here first