Best Betting Exchange: Betfair vs Betdaq
The 2 main UK betting exchanges are Betfair and Betdaq, but which is the best betting exchange?
In this post, I review, from a user and a horse bettor’s standpoint the advantages and disadvantages of both exchanges. I’ll consider the following 10 criteria and give recommendations from a users perspective.
Best Betting Exchange. Which Should You Use?
First off, it’s important to state that I’m an advocate of betting exchanges, I use both Betfair and Betdaq. The best betting exchange that for you will be dependant on several factors and as to what type of bettor you are. For example, if you are a trader then you’ll have very different requirements to an outright backer or layer.
Since their arrival back at the turn of the century, betting exchanges have changed the landscape for bettors. Before their inception, you had limited options. You could bet with a traditional bookmaker through one of their channels. Either on course, in one of the retail shops, over the phone or latterly, via the internet.
You can still do all the above nowadays, but there are multiple online options with all the high street bookmakers having online sportsbook offerings and betting exchanges offering a peer to peer betting option.
One of the key differences between traditional bookmakers and betting exchanges is the ability to lay a selection (act as a bookmaker and bet on the selection not to win), as well as the more traditional ‘back bet’ where you are betting on your selection to win.
The betting exchange model differs in that you are betting against other individuals, peer to peer betting. In operating an online only offering, betting exchanges have a lower cost base than traditional bookmakers, those with a high street presence having the costs associated with a retail outfit.
Betting exchanges make a profit by taking a commission from winning bets, retail bookmakers and sportsbooks in general terms make a profit by customers losing money. The difference in these models means betting exchanges can offer bigger prices and in general better value to the customer than traditional bookmakers.
1 - Betfair vs Betdaq: Best Betting Exchange Commission Rates
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Both charge customers commission on winning bets. If your bet loses you aren’t charged any commission.
Betfair commission rates are on a sliding scale, *starting at 5% and down to a low of 2%. Your discount rate reduces the percentage of commission you pay and is based on how many Betfair points you earn. You earn points from your turnover of stakes, so the more money you stake and the greater your turnover, the greater your discount rate right down to the minimum 2% commission.
You need to be betting and turning over significant sums of money to get down to the minimum commission rate of 2%. It is out of the reach of most but the high roller customers or high volume traders.
*Betfair has recently introduced ‘My Betfair Rewards’ where you can select your rewards plan and commission rate. Commission rates now varying between 2% and 8%. You can read about ‘My Betfair Rewards’ here.
Betdaq has the best betting exchange commission structure. It’s much simpler and has a flat rate of 2% to all customers. Betdaq is the considerably smaller player of the two and this is their USP over Betfair.
Both firms offer zero commission specials which are worth looking out for. Usually on some of the higher profile sporting events. An example being, as I write Betdaq have an offer of 0% commission on all football every Friday – Sunday throughout August.
A significant advantage that exchanges have over Bookmakers is that no one gets restricted. Bookmakers manage their liabilities by either restricting or closing winning customers accounts.
The betting exchange model thrives on turnover as they take a percentage of winnings in commission. The greater the turnover the greater commission they take, winning customers are welcome at betting exchanges.
2 - Betfair vs Betdaq: Markets and Odds
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Both firms cover a whole range of sports and markets within each sport.
From the perspective of a horse racing bettor, both firms cater for all the UK and Irish meetings.
Both offer win, place, each way, additional places and A v B betting as standard. Betfair offers some more exotic markets, for example, reversed forecast betting, if that’s your thing.
A neat feature that Betfair offers is the ability to bet into the Tote betting pools. Direct from your account you can access placepots, jackpots and the full range of more exotic pool betting markets.
As for the odds available, the prices on each exchange pretty much mirror each other. Bots and manual traders will find any price differential between the 2 exchanges and swiftly take advantage of any arbitrage opportunities and correct the market.
Both firms offer their own unique starting price (SP), both are independent of the industry recognised SP which is used by Bookmakers and sportsbooks to settle punters bets when SP has been stipulated.
In my experience, the Betfair and Betdaq SP’s are for the vast majority of time bigger than the industry returned SP. The higher the price, the bigger the difference.
There’s some real juice to be had if you find a big priced winner.
Yet if your backing favourites or horses near the front of the betting market, on the majority of occasions you’ll still get a better price, just the difference won’t be as great. You may get 11/10 about a horse with an industry SP of 1/1 or 5/2 about a 2/1 shot.
An advantage Betfair have is they offer a ‘place’ SP (Betdaq don’t have a place SP). This is a good feature if you’ve left a bet in the market waiting to be matched. You can select ‘take SP’ on an unmatched bet and it will be settled at the Betfair place SP should it not be matched before the off.
This is a useful feature if you’re placing your bets in advance and before the market liquidity has built up. You know your bet will be fulfilled, either matched or with Betfair SP taken.
3 - Betfair vs Betdaq: Best Betting Exchange Liquidity
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Firstly, what do I mean by ‘liquidity’?
Liquidity is the amount of money available at a certain price on a selection for you to bet, either to back or lay.
Why is liquidity important?
You need liquidity, the money offered into the market to be able to get your back or lay bets matched.
Liquidity varies for several reasons. The more popular the event (and the market) the greater the liquidity, the Derby will have greater liquidity than a selling race. The closer to the off time of an event, the liquidity increases. Betting in-play is commonplace now, liquidity will ebb and flow as an event unfolds.
As a horse bettor, there are some important things to consider.
Horse racing markets are usually created on the exchanges the day before the race. Layers are cautious to offer up competitive prices with any significant volume until the morning of the race when the sportsbooks have priced up and have started to see bets come in and prices being adjusted. This will vary as to the type of race. A decent class handicap with plenty of form in the book will gain liquidity faster than a maiden race with a load of horses on debut.
My view is if you are an early morning price taker, then you are probably better off betting with the sportsbooks.
Undoubtedly, Betfair leads the way in terms of liquidity. Markets start to form and gain liquidity first on Betfair. The activity on Betdaq tends to mirror this, though there is a noticeable time lag.
While you may be able to get small bets matched at competitive prices on Betfair the night before a race or early morning, the Betdaq markets tend not to be established and lack liquidity.
However, if you are betting into the markets in the 2 hours before the start and onwards, then there is liquidity in the Betdaq markets and little discernible difference in the prices on the 2 exchanges. It then comes down do you want to pay the Betfair range of commission or Betdaqs flat 2%.
4 - Betfair vs Betdaq: Best Betting Exchange Reliability
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Why is reliability important? And when I’m saying reliability, I mean unplanned site downtime or crashes.
One, if the site is down you can’t place your bets. Not a massive issue, you move somewhere else and carry on.
More worryingly, and this has happened to me. If you have unmatched live bets on the exchange when it crashes, you have no visibility if you are matched or not. You can’t access the bets to cancel them and if you’ve selected ‘take SP’ then you’ve no idea until the site comes back on if the bets have been honoured.
If you are a trader the risks are higher, you may be stuck with an open position and a large liability that you are unable to hedge out of. This could prove very costly.
Betfair has had issues with their platform and has suffered several site crashes, which appear to happen far too frequently.
Some of these outages have occurred on busy race days, often Saturdays which is far from good.
I have no understanding of why these outages occur, and it doesn’t feel that Betfair communicate with their customers too well when it does happen. “Apologies for the inconvenience” seems to be the standard message.
Betdaq, since I’ve been a customer, has had no outages.
In researching this piece (and wanting to present an unbiased review), it seems there have been occasions in the past where their site has crashed. But they do appear few and far between and that they have a stable platform.
A point worth noting though. On the latest occasion that the Betfair platform went down, this was on a busy Saturday afternoon, it had a knock-on effect to Betdaq.
On Betdaq, the bulk of liquidity disappeared, there were big gaps in the markets with no money available to match. A consequence of this was the overround instead of being around the 100% mark was varying wildly, up to 140% at times. This meant getting bets matched, and bets of any significant amount was very difficult no near impossible.
I’m speculating as to the reason for this, but I suspect that given Betfair was down that all the bots that simulate the activity on Betdaq had been shut down, removing a lot of the liquidity from Betdaq. It pretty much rendered Betdaq unusable for the afternoone
5 - Betfair vs Betdaq: Live Streaming and Race Replays
You can watch all the UK races live (with a few seconds delay) on both Betfair and Betdaq.
If you use race reading as part of your betting armoury, reviewing past races will be an issue on Betdaq.
Betfair has race replays from all UK Tracks. Betdaq offers just the racecourses partnered with Racing TV (formerly Racing UK). That means for any racecourse partnered with Sky Racing, race replays aren’t available. As I write that means 25 UK racecourses aren’t covered for race replays by Betdaq.
6 - Betfair vs Betdaq: Best Betting Exchange Trading Software
“Stock exchange – Credit to https://www.semtrio.com/” flickr photo by Semtrio https://flickr.com/photos/163837264@N07/44010087121 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
Both exchanges allow you to run third party trading software on their platforms and are of particular use if you are looking to trade markets on the exchanges, i.e. both back and lay a selection and attempt to lock in a profit whatever the result.
Running these platforms gives you added enhancements to the standard exchange features. These interfaces give you real-time price and volume views, one-click bet placement/management and a host of graphs and tools that you can use to view and monitor the market and interpret market signals.
2 of the main players are Betangel and the Geeks Toy, both are subscription-based services but offer free trial periods.
I’m an outright backer in the horse racing markets, so a trading platform has limited appeal. If you want to trade the markets both Betangel and the Geeks Toy are very useful tools.
If you want to try one, the Geeks Toy has a free to download and unlimited use offer for the Betdaq exchange. It’s a paid subscription for their interface on Betfair and a paid subscription on both exchanges to install Betangel.
While the liquidity on Betdaq is inferior to Betfair, most traders operate in the final 5 minutes pre off of a race. Liquidity on both exchanges is strong enough to operate a trading strategy on both exchanges.
7 - Betfair vs Betdaq: Customer Service and Support
I’m talking from a personal viewpoint here, I’m sure others may disagree but this is my experiences of both exchanges.
Betfair, in recent years, I feel have become less customer-centric. Going back 10 years, they refunded a stake of £1k on a losing bet I had. After the appropriate investigation, they concluded the error was there’s and my money was refunded. The service and escalation, while they investigated, was great.
More recently, I’ve challenged 2 issues and been met with an automated response that showed disregard to me as a customer. Neither query has been satisfactorily reviewed yet. Ultimately this drove my decision to sign up with Betdaq.
I’ve highlighted already how they respond to customers when their site crashes. I find them dismissive, to the customer this a dangerous stance to take for any company.
As for Betdaq, I’ve had no call to raise any queries as yet. I don’t consider myself qualified to comment on their service and support.
8 - Exchange vs Sportsbook
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As well as the exchanges, both Betfair and Betdaq now operate a sportsbook.
It’s worth distinguishing between the 2, In the past, I’ve spoken to some novice punters who have said they use Betfair, they believed they were using the exchange but were, in fact, using the sportsbook.
It’s very easy to do if you are new to the sites. Type ‘Betfair’ into the Google search engine, and if you click on the title of the number 1 spot on Google you are directed to the sportsbook, not the exchange. You can see how newbies land there and start using the sportsbook!
So, what’s the difference?
Think of the sportsbook as a traditional bookmaker model, when you place a bet you are betting against the firm. The exchanges are peer to peer models, you are pitting your wits against other punters.
Some of the disadvantages of the sportsbook, firstly you can’t lay a selection as you can on an exchange. More importantly, you’ll very likely get a lower price on the sportsbook vs the same selection on the exchange. Granted there is no commission to pay and you’ll get ‘best odds guaranteed’ on your bet, but you’ll still are very likely be getting less real value.
Winners aren’t necessarily welcome, you’ll be subject to restrictions on your bets if they see profitable betting traits and patterns.
There are only 2 occasions that I’d recommend using a sportsbook. Firstly, if you are trying to get money on early and liquidity hasn’t built on the exchange yet. Then secondly, if you want to place a multiple bet, you can’t do horse racing multiples on the exchanges.
9 - Betfair vs Betdaq: Best Betting Exchange Mobile App
“iPhone” flickr photo by GONZALO BAEZA https://flickr.com/photos/gonzalobaeza/8292958010 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
It’s difficult to recommend or be too positive about either Betfair or Betdaq’s mobile apps.
On mobile phone and Ipad, I’ve found Betfair glitchy and slow. I’ve even had occasions where bets have been duplicated when submitted.
That said, it’s better than Betdaq’s offering. I’ve never been able to get their app to load on either mobile phone or Ipad. Granted I’m not using the latest technology smartphone or newest generation Ipad, but I sure there will be plenty of you in the same position.
It’s a pretty poor state of affairs, especially if you consider the quality and usability of some of the other betting firms mobile apps.
10 - Betfair vs Betdaq: New Customer Sign Up Offers
Both Betfair and Betdaq have ongoing sign up offers for new customers to the exchange and sportsbook. The offers change as and when, but are usually themed around ‘free bets’, ‘matched credits’ or ‘cashback’.
The current sign up offers are
Betdaq sportsbook – bet £20 get £20
Betfair exchange – free £20 exchange bet paid in cash
Betfair sportsbook – get up to £100 in free bets
If you are a new customer and want to sign up, the links are embedded above (note, I receive no affiliate commission if you decide to).