Sports exchanges allow you, the punter, to act as bookmaker. You are able to "lay" a selection, if you think that it won't win. In a horse race it's as simple as "This horse will not win the race", in a football match laying a team to win means that you think they will either draw or lose the match.
The other side of your bet is taken by another punter of the opposite view – there is no bookmaker involved. The exchange will charge a commission on net winnings (generally in the region of 2-5%) but you'll often find better odds on the exchange to make up for this.
Obviously you can still back a selection to win at the exchange just as easily as laying!
|The biggest and the best. Betfair is a force to be reckoned with! Millions of pounds are traded on major events and there are plenty of markets available to bet on. Commission starts at 5% on net winnings and is reduced according to betting volume. They often run promotions including cashback offers.|
|Betdaq's main feature for the punter is the 2% commission figure for Asian handicap markets. A strong competitor to Betfair, liquidity is good on most sports, although not in play during horse races. A worthy adversary to Betfair, they often offer commission deals to regular players of ~3%.|
|Smarkets is a relative newcomer to the sports exchange stage. Their odds are competitive with Betfair's but they charge only 2% commission. Liquidity can be a problem but it is ever improving. One to keep an eye on!|