Betfair Betting Exchange

There’s no need to introduce Betfair. Most people, whether bettors or not, have heard of them. They are one of the largest online betting companies and the biggest player in the betting exchange market. Founded back in 1999, Betfair revolutionised the betting industry with the innovative idea of creating a peer to peer betting platform – what we now know as a betting exchange. In this Betfair review we’ll look at the different aspects which make them such a popular choice in the betting exchange industry and how this benefits matched betting.

Back in 1999, Betfair launched with quite a bang as they ran a coffin through the streets of London with the slogan ‘Death to the Bookmaker’ emblazoned on the side. The media loved it and in all honesty it was brilliant marketing from the start up.

There was now a huge buzz around the new concept of peer to peer betting which carried through to the Euros in 2000. Traditional bookmakers were not happy with the new craze. They were worried about match fixing and money laundering and claimed betting exchanges should be banned in the UK. In reality they were just worried about losing customers and being on the back foot.

It’s fair to say, traditional bookmakers haven’t died like Betfair claimed they would, but they’ve had to re-evaluate how they entice customers and stay competitive. One of the main challenges bookmakers face is the inherent benefits to players using a betting exchange. We’ll come onto these reasons later in this Betfair review.

Make money with Betfair Exchange

Betting Exchange Introduction

Betting exchanges are a way of betting online without involving a bookmaker. They allow players to place bets against each other rather than against a bookie. The concept is similar to financial trading. Betfair and other betting exchanges provide the software and technology to facilitate peer to peer betting.

The betting exchange don’t take on any bets so there is zero risk in their business model. They simply take a commission on players’ net winnings. This model has inherent benefits which is why betting exchanges are so popular in the betting industry.

Key Elements to the Betfair Betting Exchange


Betfair being the oldest, largest and most popular betting exchange have the widest range of markets out of all of the top betting exchanges. Their markets span across many different sporting, topical and political events.

Betfair have pretty much any market you could think of and they definitely have more than enough for our matched betting purposes. If you’re ever in need of a rare market, Betfair is the place to go.


Betfair are one of the most reliable betting companies out there. It’s not surprising when they’ve had nearly 20 years of experience building and updating their betting platform.

This is one of the most important aspects for us matched bettors. The last thing we need is for the betting exchange site to drop, leaving us unable to place the required lay bets. In our experience we’ve never had a problem with reliability, even during high volume betting events like the Grand National for example. This is certainly one of the stand out aspects of the Betfair Exchange.


As we mentioned in our Smarkets review, odds across different betting exchanges should ideally be exactly the same. Betting exchanges can offer the true market price as they don’t have to build their profit into the odds. In our experience using Betfair, their odds are always right up there in terms of the competition.

This was the case in our small experiment we published in the Smarkets review.


This is arguably the most important aspect on this list for matched betting. We’re in match betting to make as much money as possible. Paying commission is a necessary evil to use the betting exchanges. However, we can still minimise the amount we pay by picking an exchange with a low commission rate. Unfortunately Betfair don’t offer the most competitive rate.

They charge customers 5% commission on winnings. Whilst this doesn’t sound like a lot, every little helps for matched betting. Betfair obviously feel they have enough market share to keep their commission higher than Smarkets, the new kids on the block. However, this is the main drawback with the Betfair platform.

Betfair Points

Betfair do run a loyalty scheme which we’ll have a look at. They call this Betfair Points. In simple terms, for every winning or losing bet you place at the Betfair Exchange you earn points. The more you bet, the more points you win. These points allow you to reduce the amount of commission you pay. In theory, a great idea from Betfair.

Betfair Points Discount Rate

However, during my matched betting career I’ve never really managed to reduce the commission rate considerably. The few points you do earn don’t really affect the overall commission you pay.

A shame because it’s a great idea.


This is the amount of money waiting to be matched. For a bet to be accepted by the betting exchange, we need another player to bet the opposite. The liquidity refers to the number of people in the queue to place a bet.

This is certainly one of Betfair’s strongest aspects due to the sheer size and popularity of the company. Though Betfair may not be our preferred betting exchange, we still use them when the liquidity isn’t quite there at Smarkets. This is usually the case for less popular markets.

The amount of money that has been matched, directly links to the liquidity of an event. It shows how popular the event is. Taking a look at these three pictures it’s clear to see that Betfair beat the competition outright. Betfair is at the top, followed by Smarkets and then Betdaq.

Betfair Liquidity Roma vs Spal
Smarkets Liquidity Roma vs Spal


As we mentioned earlier, Betfair were the ones who created the platform allowing peer to peer betting. Therefore they’ve got the most experience in how to make this technology sophisticated and beneficial to the user. There’s no doubting the amount of time and money Betfair spend on keeping their tech right at the forefront of the industry.

Betfair proudly state they are part of the API Billionaires Club alongside the likes of Google, eBay and Twitter. This is a club that boasts to have more than a billion API’s each day. In plain English this means they are dealing with stupendous amounts of data – from bet transactions to continuously changing market prices.

Customer Support

This is another area in which Betfair should excel. They’ve had a long time to work out how to best solve their customers needs. However, it doesn’t take much digging online to see that not all customers are pleased with Betfair’s customer support.

However, this is not what we’ve experienced. From listening to what our members say, they’re generally complimentary of the Betfair support network.


As Betfair grew, they decided to diversify their company. In … they entered the bookmaker business. To some, this seemed a strange move after their initial ‘Death to the Bookmaker’ marketing campaign.

Being a bookmaker, Betfair offer a generous sign up promotion to customers. At the time of writing they are offering £100 in free bets to new customers. Using matched betting we can make a guaranteed profit from this offer.


Betfair have a range of different online payment and ewallet options. They support credit and debit cards, Neteller, Skrill, PayPal, Web Money, Paysafecard and bank transfer. There is a minimum deposit amount of £10 for each of the above except Neteller which is £12.

The same methods can be used for withdrawing money from your account. However, you must withdraw your funds with the same method you deposited them with. This has caught a few people out in the past so keep this in mind.

There is no minimum withdrawal amount for card payments, it’s £1 for PayPal, £2 for Neteller and £10 fro bank transfers.

Betfair detail any fees and charges within each account individually.

Live Streaming

Betfair are one of the few betting companies that have a live streaming service available for their customers. This is a great little feature that makes your matched betting more exciting. This feature is awesome for events which are sometimes not shown on live TV such as horse racing for example.

By watching the live stream, you know exactly which bets have won and where your profit has ended up. By this I mean whether your profit has finished up in the exchange or bookie account.

Simply stake a matched bet of at least £5 on the Betfair Exchange to qualify to watch the livestream.

Overall, a very nice feature that few betting companies can boast.

Using Betfair

Placing Bets

Placing bets at Betfair is very simple. Follow this simple strategy below if you’re unsure how.

  1. Select event and market you want to bet on.
  2. Pick wether you’re placing a back bet (blue) or lay bet (pink)
  3. If you’re happy with the odds click on the correct price.
  4. Enter your stake and check liability. Make sure you have enough money to cover the bet.
  5. Once you’re happy, hit place bet.

Website Layout

Betfair have built a slightly more functional site than other betting exchanges. They have a lot more links to different events and markets than say Smarkets. Arguably their site is too cluttered making it slightly more difficult to use.

However, quick links to certain popular events and markets speeds up our matched betting, allowing us to get our lay bets placed more quickly.

Mobile Site / App

Mobile sites and applications are great for matched betting as they allow us to place our matched bets on the move. There aren’t many ways to make money online where you can profit whilst you’re on the move like matched betting.

As you’d expect from one of the largest betting companies, Betfair have a great mobile site and app. Both platforms are very easy to use and make placing your bets on the move a doddle.

In a straight fight between Smarkets and Betfair, we’d go with the Smarkets app. It looks better on the eye and we think it’s easier to use.

Betfair Review in summary

Betfair are certainly a great betting exchange and undoubtedly the most popular. They offer an incredibly reliable and efficient service which is brilliant for us matched bettors. You will very rarely have a problem with high volume events and they offer an awesome live streaming service.

One downside is the high commission rate they charge and this is a vital part of matched betting.

However, we still recommend you use Betfair when you need to place a lay bet on a more discrete market. Overall, using a mixture of betting exchanges including Smarkets, Betdaq and Matchbook is a great option for no risk matched betting.

We hope you enjoyed this Betfair review.

If so, why not join in the fun and start making money online with matched betting? It’s free to sign up!

See you on the inside.