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Smarkets launched as a betting exchange all the way back in 2008, and it has grown significantly to become the second largest in the field behind Betfair.
But where does Smarkets’ betting experience rank among the exchange elite? Lets take a look.
Ultimately, the main difference between a bookmaker and an exchange is you get a great deal more control when using exchanges. The provider of the exchange acts only as an intermediary between punters who are betting against each other, meaning their business model isn’t reliant on enticing you to place losing bets.
Exchanges make their money on a basis of margin. In comparison to a regular bookie who will ensure that any odds on their site are in their favour, the odds on an exchange are completely dictated by the punters, making them an enticing prospect for bettors who want to squeeze a little bit of extra profit
In terms of margin, Smarkets offer a very competitive 2% commission on all bets made on the exchange. When compared to 5% on the Betfair Exchange, this represents a great deal for players who are wary of losing potential profit to the machines.
This reduced commission is also a carrot for matched bettors, as over time it can greatly reduce the amount of qualifying losses a player can make in order to trigger free bets and bonuses.
The Smarkets Welcome bonus is a fairly run of the mill one, but is useful if you are making your first steps into exchange betting. Players can gain a £10 bonus on top of a £20 opening deposit, when made via a debit card or bank transfer. This bonus is triggered by your first market net loss of £10, meaning you get a second bite of the cherry after your first defeat in the exchange.
If you are somebody who likes to sit in a dark room with no natural sunlight (or even if you don’t), then Smarkets is the betting exchange for you. The layout is predominantly black, which really is heaven for the retinas, as well as the late-night bettors. Back bets are represented by green buttons, while a calming blue tone makes up the lay options.
The load time as you navigate between markets is also very quick. If you’re in a rush to place bets then you can be confident that the site speed won’t let you down. In fact, at the time of writing, Smarkets beat Betfair in a couple of online site speed tests.
This is something that is hugely important to serious exchange users, as well as people like matched bettors, who rely on big liquidities in order to place their most profitable bets.
“What is liquidity”, I hear you ask? Well, liquidity is the amount of money that is available for punters to bet against. Let’s say there is a football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona coming, and you want to bet against the Barca win…
In order to do this, you need enough people to have bet for the Barcelona victory, as this will make up the potential winnings from your lay bet. If there is no liquidity on the opposite side of your bet, you’re in trouble, as exchanges like Smarkets will not pay you out of their own pocket.
Smarkets has had liquidity issues in the past, due to a lack of users, and there still may be a misconception among punters that it doesn’t have the “clout” of the Betfair Exchange, but I have used Smarkets for a num
While I have seen slightly more extensive betting markets in regards to the array of sports available, the average bettor is unlikely to be dissatisfied by what’s on offer on the Smarkets exchange. Punters can bet on the usual things like football and horse racing, while also dipping their toes into more unusual markets, such as taking a punt on whose face will be on the next £50 note.
Something which drags Smarketss down in comparison to its competitors is the limited options when it comes to betting in-play. At the time of writing, which was on the eve of the final day of The Masters golf tournament in the US, all I could bet on was the winner and top 5/10/20 markets.
As any golfing punter will tell you, that is merely the tip of the betting iceberg when it comes to the options you would have at your disposal on most of the other big bookmaker sites, so bare that in mind if you source your most profitable opportunities from the in-play markets.
One thing that Smarkets recently introduced which is of use in the in-play market is their “Trade out” function. This works in largely the same way as Betfair’s cash out, but the Smarkets tool allows you to trade out individual bets within a market, while Betfair only allows you to cash out of the whole market entirely.
We’re all busy people who are no longer chained to our laptops, so a solid app is essential for betting companies to thrive, and Smarkets doesn’t disappoint.
In fact, I personally find the app more intuitive than the desktop version of the site. Touch ID verification is available for Apple users, meaning you needn’t worry about fiddling around with usernames and passwords when you’re in a rush.
The layout is much smoother than on Betfair’s exchange app. It just feels that little bit easier to glide across different markets when using the Smarkets app, which over a long period of time means a lot of extra minutes and hours saved.
All the essentials are available to you within just one tap of the Smarkets app. The homepage shows users the most popular & relevant markets, with The Masters golf and Super Sunday being the most predominant events at the time of writing.
We at Bettingmetrics think it’s important to let you know about the measures bookmakers take to ensure that you do not bet yourself into trouble.
Smarkets offer limits on deposits, potential losses and stakes, while also offering users the option to take a break of up to six weeks from their platform.
Self-exclusion is also an option for punters who feel that they want to take a slightly more extended break from the site. Smarkets have made this very easy to do on their site and app. Proceeding with self-exclusion locks your account for six months.
Smarkets has enjoyed some fantastic growth, particularly in the last couple of years, to bridge the gap between themselves and the behemoth that is the Betfair Exchange.
It will be yet more years before Smarkets reaches parity with Betfair at the top of the exchange stakes, but it is currently doing all the right things to ensure marginal gains are made.
First up, their website and app are among the most slick in the market. Switching between markets is an absolute breeze, and when time is at premium, those extra seconds count in the world of exchange betting.
The commission of just 2% is also a great carrot for pulling in new users who are fed up of Betfair’s chunky 5% cut of winnings. Betting exchanges should always be about the players, and Smarkets is well aware of that.
Those two facets combine to make Smarkets a fantastic alternative to the Betfair Exchange. However, they still need to do a little bit more in order to take themselves to the top.
Smarkets could probably do with a few more markets on their site, to entice more international punters. It may seem pedantic, but sports such as handball, Gaelic football and greyhound racing are popular sports in various pockets of the continental gambling market, and Smarkets may well be missing a trick by not offering those. With exchanges, it’s usually a case of “liquidity first, markets second”, so we reckon if Smarkets’ fast growth continues in the form of more players with more cash to spend, more markets will be available soon.
The welcome bonus is also not the best I’ve ever seen, but us punters are just a spoilt bunch I guess. Being the second-largest exchange, you would expect maybe a 100% signup bonus, but nevertheless, none of us will turn our noses up at a £10 refund on our first exchange loss.
Finally, Smarkets desperately need to step up their game in the in-play markets if they are to close the gap between themselves and the big boys. At the moment, the options available to punters are pretty disappointing, which makes it unlikely that Smarkets would be the one-stop shop for punters looking to do all of their betting in one place.
But on the whole, Smarkets is an excellent site with a lot of redeeming features. It still has work to do to reach the very highest echelons of the sports betting market, but thanks to its competitive commission structure and an excellent user interface, they are well on their way.
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