Which is Better: Betting Exchanges or Bookmakers?

The Internet is full of different sports betting services nowadays. The players can pick between many different bookmakers and betting exchanges. As a result, it is hard to determine which is the best way to go if you want to make money at sports betting.

Some people believe that using the platforms of classic sportsbooks is optimal. Others prefer betting exchanges. The good news is that there are successful players in both cases. There is no definite answer which one is better, but there are some clear advantages and disadvantages of each.

We will try to highlight and explain them in this article. This will give you a complex view of the matter and help you decide which one suits you best.

Betting exchange vs. fixed odds

Let’s go through some of the most important aspects of sports betting and compare the two options:

Welcome Offers

Most bookies offer something at the registration, either via a promo code (such as Ladbrokes), either via a moneyback bonus offer bet (like Unibet), while exchange operators have some interesting offers at Betfair or Matchbook. You can give them a go.

The Odds – exchanges are more flexible

One of the most important things are the odds you get. Even the tiniest difference could be a game change. It seems that the betting exchanges have a slight advantage here because they are more flexible.

You can pick your own odds or set a certain minimum that you can accept. If there’s someone to match that, you’re good to go. The latter part could be an issue if you’re betting on an unpopular market, but that’s the case with betting exchanges in general.

You should also consider the commission the exchange will charge you. It affects the actual odds you can get. It usually is around the 5% mark.

Variety of Markets – Bookies win

Sportsbooks seem like the clear winner when it comes to the variety of markets available. Betting exchanges usually match them in numbers, but there is not enough volume for many of the options.

That’s not the case with bookmakers. If they offer a certain betting market, you can place a wager on it. As simple as that. If that’s a priority for you and you use various different betting options, you should probably stick to sportsbooks.

Betting limits – undecided

Betting limits are a bit tricky to evaluate. If you’re placing tiny bets for fun, both exchanges and bookmakers will be more than enough. However, if you’re a high roller and a constant winner, there might be a difference.

The biggest advantage of betting exchanges is that they don’t really care if you are winning. The money is not being paid by them, but by the players that match your bets. As a result, you could be paying a bit higher commission, but you won’t be limited on purpose.

This is different with bookmakers. They do tend to sometimes restrict their winnings players. There are a couple of ways. The first of them is to set a maximum winnings limit. Alternatively, there could be a wager limit. In extreme cases, accounts can even be closed.

Sports betting exchanges won’t do that, but there’s another problem that could occur. If a certain game or market doesn’t attract enough volume, you simply can’t place the amount you wish.

The conclusion is that sports betting exchanges are better when it comes to popular games and betting markets. The bookies win for minor sports and events.

Promotions – bookmakers give more extra value

Bookmakers have a clear advantage when it comes to the promotions available. You can get a good welcome bonus for a start. Then come things like loyalty clubs or various other ongoing specials. There’s almost always a way to get something extra.

This is not entirely true about betting exchanges. Yes, they do have some promotions, but simply can’t compare. One could argue that you get better odds which are more important and that’s the reason behind the lack of promotions. Either way, bookmakers certainly offer more in this regard.

Trading and laying odds – where betting exchanges stand out

This one is quite obvious. Betting exchanges are much better for traders. You can take the role of a bookmaker and lay a certain outcome. You can also place some wagers live to achieve a “green book” which means closing with profit before an event is finished.

The bookmakers are trying to make up with features such as Cash Out, for example. However, they do add a margin there and betting exchanges are still way ahead when it comes to flexibility and trading.

Which one is best for you?

As you can see, there are different aspects in which bookies are better than betting exchanges and vice versa.

Who should pick traditional bookmakers

If you are in one of the following categories of players, you should probably go for sportsbooks:

  • Casual players: you will get more promotions, the user interface is easier and you will always get your bets accepted;
  • People that bet on unpopular markets: if the majority of your wages can’t be met on exchanges, there’s no point using their platform;
  • Early birds: some people prefer to bet a couple of days before the event. Once again, you will have issues with finding enough volume at betting exchanges while the bookie will gladly accept your wagers.

Who should pick betting exchanges

Here are our thoughts on that one:

  • Traders: the most obvious group that can benefit. If you’re aiming at sure bets, green books and other typical trading stuff, betting exchanges will provide you all the necessary tools;
  • Pro bettors seeking for high limits: if you’re constantly getting limited by traditional bookmakers, it’s probably time to go for betting exchanges.


As you can see, there are different aspects and there’s no straight answer to the question if bookmakers or betting exchanges are better. You should consider all the pros and cons before picking one of them for your personal needs.

Of course, you shouldn’t limit yourself to just one of them, quite the contrary. Finding the best value possible and squeezing it is crucial. Sometimes it will be available at bookmakers and sometimes at betting exchanges. Being able to capitalise in both cases will help you make more money in the long run.