Sports Betting Strategy

Sports Betting Exchanges And How They Operate

What's the difference between an exchange and a sportsbook?


Betting exchanges are a unique type of sports betting setup that allow bettors to wagers on different games, events, tournaments, seasons and most propositions that sportsbooks in general would offer. Betting exchanges are a lot like sportsbooks. However, there are a few key differences that separate the two. Here is a closer look at what betting exchanges are and how they operate differently than sportsbooks.

Betting Exchanges Explained

A betting exchange is like an online marketplace where sports fans go to bet against one another on the outcome of any event. For the individual, the experience is a lot like going to an online sports betting site and placing a bet. However, when you place a wager with a betting exchange you are betting against another sports fan rather than betting against a sportsbook.

For example, if you were to place a bet on the Dallas Cowboys to beat the Washington Redskins in an NFL game on a sportsbook, you would simply go to the site, follow the prompts and place the bet against the book. If you wanted to place that same bet on a betting exchange, then you would need to find another individual that was willing to take the Redskins in that exact same game to take your bet. Essentially, you are finding another fan to bet against.

The overall experience is often very similar regardless of whether you are betting with a betting exchange or a sportsbook. You are still risking a certain amount of money to win a certain amount of money. You are also still paying a commission to the betting exchange that is similar to the juice or “vig” that the sportsbooks take on. However, there are a few key differences between wagering with a sportsbook and an exchange that you should probably know about before you get started.

Betting Exchange vs. Sportsbooks

It’s important to understand the differences between wagering with a betting exchange and a sportsbook before you get started. The best way to do that is through the use of examples, which we will try to do here. Let’s pretend that you want ot bet on the Los Angeles Rams to cover a 4.5-point spread at home against the San Francisco 49ers. If you go to a sportsbook, you will find odds that look like this:

Los Angeles Rams -4.5 (-110) vs. San Francisco 49ers

If you want to bet on the Rams, all you need to do is select that option and enter the amount that you want to risk taking them to win and cover. If you want to win $100, then you would need to risk $110 to cover the juice that the sportsbook requires when you place the bet. While the juice potentially costs you $10 if you lose, the fact that you can place your wager right then and there makes it a simple experience.

Now, let’s say that you wanted to place that exact same wager taking the Rams at -4.5 on a betting exchange. Not so fast. In order to place that bet, you need to find another fan that is willing to take the 49ers at +4.5. If you don’t find another fan that is willing to bet on San Francisco +4.5, then there is no way that you can place that wager on the exchange. In the event that you don’t have a willing partner standing by, you would need to then put out an open offer indicating your intention to bet on Los Angeles and find somebody that is willing to meet you at that number or a different number.

You might find somebody that will take the 49ers at +4.5 against you. You might also find somebody that is only willing to bet San Francisco if you allow them to get 5.5 points instead of the 4.5 that you initially wanted to give up when you thought about making the wager. You don’t have to risk the extra juice that the sportsbooks charge but you will still have to pay a commission on the wager once you find a willing partner. Obviously, using a betting exchange is a quality alternative option when the right numbers are available to you. However, if you find yourself looking for a particular bet at an exact number, you might have to stick with the sportsbook

Betting Against Outcomes

Another interesting aspect of the betting exchange is the option to bet against potential outcomes. The best example we can use here is the future propositions for betting on the Super Bowl that we see on both betting exchanges and sportsbook listings. For example, let’s say that somebody wanted to bet on the Dallas Cowboys to win the Super Bowl. If you go to a sportsbook, you might see the Cowboys listed at +1500 to win it all. All you need to do to bet on Dallas is pick the team, insert the amount you want to risk and place the bet. While you can bet on the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl, you can’t bet against them specifically winning it all with a sportsbook. However, that is something you can do on a betting exchange.

Betting against outcomes is something you can do with a betting exchange. Using the example we alluded to above, you can bet on the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl at +1500 odds on a betting exchange, as long as you find somebody to take that action. This means that on the other side of the exchange, somebody could bet against Dallas winning the Super Bowl at -1500 odds. The tough part about this is that you might not find somebody willing to take the opposite side of one of those bets. However, with a betting exchange you can always adjust the odds in order to find a willing partner.

Finding A Betting Exchange

While they might not get the same recognition and traffic as the elite sportsbooks, betting exchanges have existed for decades and are still around. Betfair owns the largest betting exchange market share with BETDAQ and Matchbrokes another two popular options overseas. The problem for North American sports fans is that the four most popular betting exchanges aren’t available to users in the United States or Canada at this time. That could change in the coming years, but for now sports bettors in North America will need to stick with their sportsbooks for all of their action.


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