Best Betting Exchange Sites in Ireland
In this article we will look at all four Irish betting exchanges and give a full run down of what they are and how to use them. We will explain how to back and how to lay bets, we will explain why the odds are so good and we provide all you need to know in order to assess which exchange betting sites are the best. There is up to date Free bet information with the relevant bonus codes and we answer your Frequently Asked Questions at the end.
List of Bet Exchanges in Ireland
Last updated: 03.2.2023
Trade with 0% commission for 60 days OR get a €20 Cash refund. Choose your option by entering a promo code given in the rules. To claim a €20 cashback offer you will also need to make your first qualifying deposit of €10 or more. The cashback is paid out in cash, not free bets.
This promotion is valid until 01/01/2023 for new customers who register with the promotion code "MATCHBOOK30". Make a deposit to your betting account within 7 days and place a single bet at min odds of 1.80. Customers who make their first deposit via Skrill, Neteller or paysafecard do not participate in the promotion. If your first bet loses, within 72 hours of the settlement you will get a Free bet equal to the lost bet, but not more than €3. Place a Free bet as a single bet within 7 days. The net winnings (total payout excluding the Free bet amount) will be credited to your account in case of win.
What are Betting Exchanges?
Betting exchanges are not the same as traditional bookmakers, they are in fact a marketplace, and they act in the same way any other free market does. At a betting exchange, the product that you are buying and selling is a bet, and it operates the same way a fruit market operates selling apples or pears. In exactly the same way that a fruit market can have more demand for a certain apple which will force the price of those apples up, and if someone suddenly wants to sell an abundance of bananas the price of bananas will fall in order to clear them, the odds at a betting exchange fluctuate with the same mechanics. The odds will move up and down with the ebb and flow of supply and demand.
A betting exchange is different from a traditional bookmaker because you are not actually betting with the exchange, you are betting with all the other exchange customers. A betting exchange simply holds all the money and adjudicates which bets have won and pays the winners accordingly.
The betting exchanges all make their money by charging the winner a small commission. A betting exchange does not care if you win or if you lose because no matter what on every market they make their commission rate from someone so if you struggle to get bets on at other bookmakers then exchanges are definitely the place for you.
How Do Betting Exchanges Work?
The model of every betting exchange works by following the same flow of actions:
So to anyone who asks "how does a betting exchange work" we will now demonstrate with a real life example. It will be almost exactly the same no matter who your chosen betting exchange in Ireland is but this example happens to be at a Betfair account denominated in £s but the mechanics are all identical for Euros. What is really important to get your head around is that each bet has two sides to it between two different customers, one backing the bet and the other laying it. For every back bet there s a lay bet and vice versa. We will show how this works below:
In the example above we have selected a match taking place two weeks in the future between two football teams. The market has been open a short time but not very long, you can see that only £163 of bets has been matched so far and the market has an over round of 103%, which is about what a bookmaker will be but an exchange will be a lot closer to 100% when the game begins, there is still room for the odds to improve at the moment. The back odds are 1.67 on Arsenal winning. Now you may think that Arsenal will win but you wanted better odds than 1.67. Unlike a normal betting site you are not forced to accept or leave the odds on offer, instead you can submit your back bet requesting the odds that you want.
You can see this in the example above where the bet has a stake amount of 10 and the odds have been set to 1.7 which will mean a £7 profit. This bet can be submitted but we know from the earlier screen that it will not be matched at these odds.
Instead what happens is the bet is entered into the exchange and now it's in the lay column, you can see a pink 1.7 with £10 underneath it. That is the back bet that was just submitted. It is signaling to every other exchange customer that you want to bet £10 at odds of 1.7 on Arsenal to win and anyone who wants to bet against that can now lay it.
So we will do that, the screen above shows how to lay a bet, you click on the relevant selection and the current lay odds and a new bet slip will appear.
On this bet slip entering the backer's stake will be how much of the bet you can win if the bet does not happen. This is counterintuitive and not what people who have only placed back bets at regular betting sites are used to. They are used to typing in the amount that they will lose but with a lay bet you type in the amount that you will win. The amount you will lose is shown as your liability, and in this example it is £7.
Once your bet is matched then it will be removed from the exchange as you can see above, because there is no money there to be matched for anyone else now that £10 has a backer and a layer. The net position for the layer is shown above, they lose £7 if Arsenal win but win £10 if it is Leeds or a Draw.
This is the exact opposite of the display for the person who backed the bet, you can see they win £7 on Arsenal but lose £10 if it is Leeds or a Draw.
This is how all betting exchanges work.
What to Look Out for When Selecting an Exchange Betting Site?
When selecting a betting exchange to use there are several important factors to take into account, we will look at them all in detail below.
The most important thing to consider when choosing an exchange is the commission rate that is charged. This is because the odds you get at betting exchanges will be at or around a 100% over round, and if you want better odds you can just request them and either get the better odds when someone else matches the bet or the bet is just not placed. The exchange commission that you pay on winning bets is essentially the same as a normal bookmakers margin. When betting exchanges first launched at the beginning of the century and for the first fifteen years or so of their existence paying 5% commission on winning bets was the industry standard. Fortunately due to increased competition that has now been lowered to 2%, meaning a much better deal for all punters.
Liquidity means the amount of money that you get matched at the odds you ask for. It is all well and good a betting exchange having low commission but you need to be able to get your bet matched and to the size you want. For a long time Betfair as the market leader was the only place you could be certain of getting large bets matched but this is no longer the case and all the betting exchanges operating in Ireland have ample liquidity, certainly just before the event begins. A betting exchange without liquidity is like eBay if there were no sellers. And with no sellers, there will be no buyers (there is nothing to buy), and with no buyers no sellers will waste time and money listing things if they do not sell anything, and it is a very difficult cycle to break. This is why there are so few betting exchanges compared to the number of bookmakers, it is very hard to get a critical mass of customers to survive.
Range of Sports and Markets covered
Of course, the other key thing to getting your desired bet placed is whether or not the betting exchange list what you want to bet on. Some of the betting exchanges will add a sports betting event if it is something you are interested in though (both Smarkets and Betfair have definitely done this in the past) and you can also request individual bets to be added to an event, for example the name of someone to a "next manager" market. All the betting exchanges cover the core sports and have a depth of leagues and tournaments listed. They also have many betting options per event.
Payment and Withdrawal methods
You need to be able to get your money into (and just as importantly out of) a betting exchange in order to use it, that goes without saying really. All four betting exchanges accept debit cards which are the main form of payment with no fees and high limits, also funds are paid swiftly. There is not a lot of need for other methods if you have a debit card but some people like to use E-Wallets or other payment methods so the best betting exchange sites are clearly going to be the ones that offer those as well.
Betting Exchange's reputation
Some people look at an exchange's reputation and there is some logic to that but we would not actually worry about this too much. That is because it is retrospective (looking at the past), whereas it is the future that matters. For a long time in the gambling industry Betfair had a terrible reputation and had, amongst many things, offered promotional bonuses and then later seized the player's winnings and cash balances (sometimes worth thousands of pounds), and just confiscated it all for no justifiable reason. It was only after lengthy legal battles that Betfair had to pay the players involved.
Another major issue with Betfiar was the introduction of the Premium charge which overnight discriminated against some users and charged them a higher (and different tier) of commission which turned previously profitable users who made their living on Betfair no longer profitable. If they can change the goalposts (so to speak) just like that then there is a lot of reason not to invest the time and money into learning how to use the Betfair exchange. However, that was all in the past, and having a bad reputation is not always relevant to the present.
Today Betfair is highly unlikely to steal balances as it did perhaps ten years ago or change its commission structure overnight as it did maybe 5 years ago. Today Betfair is pretty good. So whether or not to judge them by actions of the past is up to each individual to consider.
All of the best betting sites these days have a dedicated mobile App and this applies to betting exchanges as well. Interestingly, not all of the exchanges do have a mobile App that allows all the exchange functions but the better ones will and if betting on the go is something that you want to do then this is something to consider.
Ideally, you will never have to ask them, but in case you do have a problem or just have a question, being able to contact a knowledgeable customer support agent quickly and easily is a big plus. There is nothing worse than spending hours (literally, hours) on hold waiting to get through to someone only to eventually get through and find you are playing message ping pong with an AI bot (and we use the "I" in AI loosely).
What is Backing and Laying at Betting Exchanges?
At a betting exchange, you can choose to back something which is betting that it will happen. This is exactly the same as placing a bet at a bookmaker. The only difference really is that at the exchange you can bet at the current odds available or you can request higher odds and wait to see if it is matched, in this way an exchange is more flexible than a bookmaker. But backing at an exchange and betting at a bookmaker is ultimately the same thing, just remember that a betting exchange will charge you commission if you win!
It is laying bets which is the real difference and what puts exchanges into a league of their own. Here you have something that no bookmaker allows and that is because in effect YOU are being a bookmaker. Laying a bet involves betting that something will NOT happen. You are taking somebody else's bet that it will, and so if they are correct and it happens you lose, but if they are wrong and it does not, then you win. Betting that things won't happen opens up a whole load more betting opportunities and when you can both back and lay on the same market it becomes possible to trade, which is a whole article in itself!
List of Betting Exchanges in Ireland
Smarkets Betting Exchange - Best Betting Exchange Site
To say which is the "best" is subjective and one mans best will be different from the next, but for us Smarkets just about pips it to the best betting exchange site number one position.
They are the newest of the four exchanges, founded in London in 2008 as a start up by two Americans they are instrumental to the standard commission rate being just 2% rather than 5% (or higher!). What seals the top spot is the functionality of the Smarkets website, and taking the ability to trade to the next level with real-time charts, much like a financial stock market display looks. They couple this with large amounts of liquidity on markets earlier than it appears at rivals so you can get your bets on earlier.
It has more flexibility than rivals with odds available up to 9999 to 1 instead of just 999/1 and they frequently have more markets available for each event. At the same time as having a superior exchange betting platform, they also have a sportsbook known as "SBK". Now it is ONLY available as an App and you use your same account for both the SBK sportsbook and the Smarkets betting exchange. Unlike rivals who have a sportsbook and lower the odds in that area, the Smarkets SBK App gives the simplicity of a bookmaker but the same great exchange odds.
Betfair Exchange Betting
Betfair was not the first betting exchange to launch but they were close and they are the earliest that still exists today. They followed a marketing strategy reminiscent of Microsoft where they grew to a monopoly position in the market by buying any of their rivals who were better than them and merging them into Betfair. They did this with a betting exchange called "Flutter" which is notable because A) Flutter was actually a much better betting exchange than Betfair and also B) Flutter is now the name of Betfair's parent company, but confusingly there is no relation between the two!
With their monopoly position and more liquidity than anyone else for many years, success breeds success, and their dominant position meant 5% basic commission (potentially lower for active users, but also higher on some specials markets), and people could take it or leave it. Betfair was the largest betting exchange and by virtue of that alone, they were leading the best betting exchanges list for a long time.
They began with the marketing slogan "Smart minds Betfair" which focused on the skill element of exchange betting and that when compared to gambling at a bookmaker where you are pretty much certain to lose money in the long run at a betting exchange where you set your own odds you have a fighting chance of winning. As time went on the Betfair management realised that to make more money they should add a Casino site so that slogan was quietly dropped, because Smart minds definitely do not bet in a Casino. They, in fact, instead added a whole host of gambling options including Poker, Bingo, Exchange Games, the Casino, and a Spread betting site "Tradefair" which moved away from their core product and perhaps explains why the competition was able to catch up with, and eventually overtake them.
BETDAQ Betting Exchange
The BETDAQ betting exchange has had a potted history since it was founded by Irish businessman Dermot Desmond in 2000 (they started trading one year later). For a long, long time they were the second largest betting exchange but could never truly dent Betfair's market position. In the end they were sold to Ladbrokes in 2013 and became the ill-fated and short lived "Ladbrokes Betting Exchange". Ladbrokes soon realised they had no idea what they were doing with an exchange and made a complete mess of things, forcing them to eventually offload it back to Dermot Desmond eight years later, meaning BETDAQ is once again an independent betting exchange.
They have also added a Casino site and Sportsbook which are all accessed by the same betting exchange account. BETDAQ have some existing user promotions and has recently added live streaming to their website which shows endeavor and the intention to compete and they do continue to improve. It is however a fact that at the moment they do nothing better than what is available elsewhere, and they are very much an "also ran" right now.
Matchbook Exchange Betting
Matchbook is a betting exchange that operates in the UK and Ireland and has had numerous owners since it began in 2004. They have had different commission structures during that time but currently charge Irish customers a flat 2% on winning bets which is the industry standard. They actually had their licence suspended in 2018 and were fined £740,000 for a number of regulatory breaches but they appear to have put all that behind them now.
They have considerably less sports coverage than their rivals, just 14 compared to around 30 at the others. Despite this they have a decent amount of markets compared to their rivals and the only drawback is that there are usually gaps in the odds and low liquidity until minutes before an event starts which can be frustrating.
Betting Exchange Offers - What are they?
At the time of writing all four Irish betting exchanges have a Welcome bonus but obviously different betting exchanges will have different offers with different terms and conditions attached. Some of them have existing user offers as well but they are not a regular feature of the website but are instead either sent to eligible customers by Email or they are for a specific game or match and appear on the website in the days before the start and then disappear again.
We will look at the welcome offers the betting exchange sites currently offer below. It is common for there to be several options for the new user to choose, so we will look at each one in turn. All Welcome bonuses are available to Irish customers as Euros even though the graphics may say £s. If you see T&C, £20 it is also €20:
Smarkets Welcome offers
Trade with 0% commission for 60 days or get a €20 cash refund
If you deposit with code "COMMFREE" then you will have to pay 0% commission for the first 60 days of your account activity. This can be worth a great deal, or very little, it depends on how much you intend to use the betting exchange in your first two months. We would suggest that if you are experienced in online betting and using betting exchanges then this could be the best option for you.
On the other hand, if you are new to online betting and specifically using betting exchange sites then the second option of a €20 cash refund is perfect. To get this you need to use code "SMK20" and deposit €20 with a debit card because payment restrictions apply to almost all welcome bonuses. This offer is perfect because you are free to back as normal or experiment with laying bets for the first time and there are no minimum odds or other restrictions on what betting markets you can use. You just use your account in any way you want but when you lose it does not come from your real money balance, instead it comes from your bonus credit. The only thing to be wary of is that you only have seven days to use this credit before it expires.
Betfair Welcome offers
Bet €20 on the exchange and if it loses get a Free bet refund
New customers can bet €20 on the Betfair exchange (it must be all on the same market as one bet) and if it wins, then keep the winnings but if it loses get credited with a €20 Free bet. Only bets placed and settled within 7 days of account opening count as a qualifying bet for this offer. You must deposit with either a debit card or Apple pay but they are really the only restrictions. There are no min odds or anything else to worry about, what you bet on is entirely up to you.
BETDAQ Welcome offers
Bet €10 and get a €10 Free bet
BETDAQ has a welcome bonus of a €10 Free bet after you place a €10 bet on the exchange. It is important to note that there are min odds of Evens (Decimal 2) and the usual payment method restrictions apply. Your first qualifying bet can be either by backing something or by using lay betting, but once you have the Free bet it must be used on a back bet. A positive thing to note is that you are granted the Free bet whether you win or lose, which is better than only getting it if you lose your first bet.
Matchbook Welcome offers
Remarkably at the time of writing Matchbook have a choice of five different sign up offers!
Option 1: Up to €60 in Free bets - World Cup offer
This offer applies to all eligible Matchbook customers who create an account using the bonus code “MATCHBOOK60” between 09:00 on the 10th of October 2022 until midnight on the 19th of November 2022.
This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other sign-up offer. Participation in this offer will exclude you from being added to any “0% Commission” promotions.
The five weekly periods are:
If you stake €25 or more on Soccer betting markets during the selected weekly periods, Matchbook will award you with a €10 free bet token to bet on the Soccer World Cup.
If you qualify for all €50 you will be awarded with a further €10 Free Bet to use on the World Cup Final.
The stake is defined as the amount you stand to lose on either Back bets or win on Lay bets.
You can place bets as a single bet of €25 or smaller value bets that total €25 or more.
The qualifying bets must be placed with minimum odds of 1.8.
You will receive a €10 Free bet for each week that you qualify.
The maximum total Free bet balance that can be accrued overall is €60.
The free bet bank will be credited to your account as individual €10 tokens.
The €10 free bet token will be credited to your account on the following days and be valid for 24 hours.
The Free bet token will be added at 10:00 GMT each day.
The Free bet token will expire after 24 hours if they are unused.
The Free bet token will be credited in the currency of the customer’s Matchbook account. €1=£1=$1
The Free bet token(s) must be used at odds of 1.8 or more on betting exchange markets.
The Free bet token stake will not be returned on a winning bet. This will be reflected in the Profit/Loss figure for each bet in the bet slip and bet reports.
The full value of a Free bet token will be used when placing a bet.
€200 Euro (20%) boost if you win money on the World Cup Winner Market.
This promotion is available to new customers only, who register using the promo code ‘WCOUTRIGHT’.
The promotional period begins at 10:00 10th October 2022 through to November 20th November 15:00.
Applies the first bet on the World Cup 2022 Outright Market winner only.
If you have made a net profit on this market at the end of the tournament which can be from either back or lay betting, then Matchbook will add a 20% bonus on your winnings as cash to your account up to a maximum of €200.
You will be charged 2% Net Win Commission on this market if your selection wins. The 20% boost will be calculated based on your winnings after the commission has been applied.
The maximum refund that can be paid is €200 and will be paid in the currency of the customer's account. £1=€1=$1
This offer only applies to back bets only on the World Cup 2022 Outright Winner market.
The user cannot back and lay the same selection. This will exclude them from the offer.
The user cannot cash out. This will exclude them from the offer.
Any bonus due will be paid within 72 hours of the market settling.
Sign-Up Offer - Bet 30 Get 30 On NFL
Sign-Up Offer - Money Back If Your First Bet Loses
Sign-Up Offer - 0% Commission For 90 Days
Betting Exchange websites compared
All betting exchange websites have different qualities and there is no one that is the best betting exchange at everything. They all have strengths and weaknesses and we compare and contrast the key features of the four betting exchange options in the table below:
Welcome Offer (Bonus amount)
Existing User Offers
Number of payment methods accepted
Highest Total Matched
€20 (Risk free credit)
2018: England vs. Sweden World Cup quarter-final (€22.3 million)
€20 (Free bet refund)
2020: US Presidential Election (€564 million)
€10 (Free bet)
€60 (Free World Cup bets)
Yes (Emailed to selected accounts)
Pros & Cons Of Sports Betting Exchanges Compared To Sportsbooks
Betting Exchange Positives:
Betting Exchange Negatives:
There is no such thing as a football betting exchange, however, all betting exchanges allow bets to be placed on football using a range of markets. We have gone into great detail above explaining how to place a bet on the exchange, from both the perspective of a backer and as a layer. Please refer to these step by step explanations to help you.
Horse Racing Betting Exchanges
There is no such thing as a betting exchange for horse racing exclusively, however, all betting exchanges allow bets to be placed on horse races. A major thing that becomes obvious when using an exchange to bet on horse racing is how much fluctuation there is in the odds just before the off. It is not at all uncommon to see a horse's odds swing about from perhaps 5/1 out to 7/1 and then back into 4/1 (for example) in the space of ten minutes. The timing of your bets can be just as important as the bet that you place.