Exchanges revolutionised betting by allowing punters to request the odds they want, and enabling them to to “become” the bookmaker i.e. the ability to Lay an outcome. In recent years Bookmakers have made steps towards improving their inplay betting experience and have incorporated “cashout” features, which mimics trading techniques used on the exchange.
But there are several other advantages of using Bookmakers that you may not have realised…
Best Odds Guaranteed
Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) gives bettors an advantage over the exchange for horse and greyhound racing. If the starting price (SP) is higher than the odds accepted by the bettor, the Bookmakers offering Best Odds Guaranteed will pay out at the higher price.
e.g. Backing a horse at 10.5 and the odds are 14.5 at SP. You're therefore guaranteed 14.5.
The exchange has no such benefit, as by its very nature you compete for the best odds or attempt to predict the direction of those odds, as opposed to committing to a selection.
The UK’s Best Odds Guaranteed Bookmakers are listed here. Be sure to check the individual T&C’s as stipulations vary.
Better Bonuses & Free Bets
Bookmakers tend to offer better incentives and rewards to their players.
The betting exchange’s customers are thrown occasional free bet offers for continued loyalty, too. But it’s really the liquidity, commission incentives, and the uniqueness of the product itself that retains the customer base. Bookmakers tend to be more active and imaginative with the offers they create, and this results in some generous signup bonuses and promotions to new and existing customers.
Every week the most popular sporting events (such as big race days and football matches) give Bookmakers an excuse to offer promotional bets. Many of these you’ll see advertised on TV, or hear about on the radio. For example: “enhanced odds”, “cashback on first goalscorer bets”, or “a free £5 bet when you place £10 on the grand national”.
To learn more on free bets & promotions, check out my post: Precisely How Valuable Are Free Bets?
This isn’t strictly true all of the time — but popular bookies generally accept high stakes. Pinnacle Sports are notorious for their extremely high limits. Betting exchanges, on the other hand, rely on the market’s liquidity — which can be unpredictable.
What we define as a “high stake” varies for different people. For most bettors, a £100 stake on odds of 10.0+ is deemed as “high”. For others it’s “VERY high”. In my experience, regardless of the liquidity on the exchange, in most cases you will fulfill your £100 stake request at the large UK Bookmakers (particularly in betting shops).
Unfilled stakes at the Bookmaker are usually down to:
- The horse being “marked” due to huge volume/activity
- Your maximum stake size being capped at a lower amount than you requested
- Restrictions applied to your account due to a pattern identified in your bets
And if you didn’t get all of your stake away at your favourite Bookmaker, then there’s no shortage of other options — even shops — that you could use to bet the remainder. In contrast, there’s only a few exchanges with high liquidity to choose from. If your preferred one doesn’t have the liquidity you need, then you’ll be forced to split your stake over lower odds, queue it, or try betting at a later point.
Another advantage (which doesn’t concern the majority of us) is that some of the main UK Bookmakers run “special accounts” that cater for individuals wanting to place very high stakes. We’re talking well into the thousands!
The odds at the Bookies fully represent the payout you get on a win, regardless of how often you bet.
Bets made on the Betfair exchange carry a commission in the form of a percentage on any winnings. Typically bettors are required to meet a minimum turnover to maintain or improve this commission %.
NOTE: The exchange commission % wouldn't normally impact your potential winnings to the extent that you'd find better value at the Bookmaker.
The most popular Bookmakers offer more markets than the exchange, with many niche subcategories to choose from.
Exchanges like Betfair tend to offer the popular markets, ensuring quality over quantity. It’s better to have well-formed markets with high liquidity than to provide an abundance of illiquid markets. Due to the fact that Bookmakers work on the model of selling odds with an overround, they have the freedom to make markets on less-popular events. In doing so they take on the risk themselves without relying on liquidity (i.e. the public) to form the odds.
The less-popular markets could have the most price inaccuracies. This is good news, as it presents value to the bettor if the right selections are made. Niche markets benefit those with very specific areas of expertise. After all, how accurate can UK bookmakers be at predicting events such as the total yellow cards in a Kazakhstan first division league game?
Be aware though: very niche markets have less competition between Bookmakers, and so there’s more risk and uncertainty when making the prices. Odds may be hugely under-valued as a kind of “safety measure”.