Smarkets vs Sportsbooks

smarkets vs sportsbooks

New players in the betting industry are still confused about the difference between a betting exchange, which is offered by Smarkets and a sportsbook provided by several online bookies. This article will highlight the difference between the two, give out the advantages and disadvantages of which and help you choose whether to place your bets in a betting exchange platform like Smarkets or use the sportsbook depending on what you stand to gain. 

Introduction to Smarkets 

Smarkets is a betting exchange operator which was established back in 2008 to replace the traditional bookmakers that offered sportsbook betting. Unlike the sportsbook betting where players bet against the bookmakers, Smarkets brought in a new way where players placed their bets against each other on a peer to peer betting style. Since its establishment, Smarkets have been focused on growth and is recognized as one of the best betting exchanges worldwide. They have a wide variety of sports to bet on as well as plenty of betting options to maximize your chances of winning. They have also done a great job to ensure their players have access to the best technology and user-friendly website. 

Smarkets offer a betting exchange where you can act as a bookmaker by setting the sports odds or become the customer by backing the odds set by another player. This allows you to either lay or back an outcome of a sporting event. 

Lay betting 

 Lay betting allows the players to go head to head by setting their own odds. Laying a bet simply means you’re staking your money on a team not to win. So if five horses are competing and you stake on one horse not to win, you’ll win the bet. If the horse wins, you’ll lose. 

Back Betting  

Back betting is the exact opposite of lay betting. Once another player has set the odds, you can choose to take the odds creating a match. When you place a back bet, you stake on a certain team to win. For instance, if five horses are competing, you’ll place a bet for one horse to win. If any of the four horses defeat it, you’ll lose your bet, if your horse wins, then you win the bet. 

Laying, something Sportsbooks can’t offer 

Lay betting is also known as matched betting. This betting allows players to act as a bookmaker by offering betting odds for other players to back. Many people like participating in a lay bet because they find it easier to choose a team that won’t win rather than choosing the winner. It is the opposite of backing a bet. 


To place a lay bet, you can choose not to back Arsenal to win in a Premier League. You, therefore, lay a bet on Arsenal. You stand a chance of winning if another team apart from Arsenal wins. You will lose your bet if Arsenal wins. You’ll lay your bet against an outcome by acting as the bookmaker.  

Pros and Cons of Laying a bet 

Pros of laying a bet 

One of the biggest pro of lay betting is that there is generally minimum risk involved. It is easier to pick a horse that’s going to lose a race than picking the winner and chances of you winning are higher. For instance, let’s say five horses are competing, you’ll choose the loser of the race. When you do this, there are high chances that one of the remaining four horses will finish ahead of it. This, intern, gives you higher strike rates. 

Another advantage of laying a bet is that if you choose to back a bet, you’ll have better chances of choosing who’s offering the best odds. You’ll get profits according to what you stake minus the commission that Smarkets will charge from your winnings. If you stake €20 for instance, you might have the potential of earning as much as €500 if you win. If you happen to lose, you’ll only lose your €20. 

Lay betting is far much easier than other types of betting because you’ll find it easier to predict a team that will lose than picking the winner. 

For instance, chances of Chelsea winning on a 4th division side are minimal. You’ll, therefore, lay a bet on them losing. You’ll be more positioned to win the bet on them losing than winning on them winning.  

Cons of laying a bet 

Because lay betting happens exclusively on a betting exchange, there is a possibility of not getting your bet matched. For any laid bet to be successful, you must have another player backing the bet, which is not always a guarantee. This is something you’ll mostly encounter if you place your bets on less popular events. 


The popularity of sportsbook is mostly backed by the unlimited number of sports to bet on as well as a huge number of betting markets. There is higher liquidity in sportsbook as compared to Smarkets, and you’ll never lack odds to bet on. You can choose a wide variety of betting options. For example, when betting on a football match, you’ll choose to bet on the first team to score, the half time winner, the full-time results, the overall winner, under/over, the total number of scores full time, etc. 

Sportsbook players also benefit from many offers and rewards that players can take advantage of when betting. New players enjoy various welcome offers and regular promotions that minimize their risks. 

Sportsbooks: Here To Stay 

Smarkets betting exchange came on board with the aim of replacing the traditional sportsbook betting, which involved placing your bets on the bookmaker. This has, however, remained a dream since sportsbook has proven that it’s going nowhere. 

Sportsbook offers several advantages that you won’t find on Smarkets, and that’s the secret to its strong foundation. For instance, sportsbook guarantees fixed odds where you’ll win a full amount of your betting stake with no commissions being deducted. Sportsbook also offers several betting markets where you can bet on total goals for a specific team, the first goal-scorers, under/over, etc. You can also bet on multiples like doubles, accumulators, or trebles. Unlike Smarkets betting exchange where you lay a bet has to be matched, and you stand a chance of not getting a match, a sportsbook has their bets readily available, and you can place your bet anytime, and it goes through immediately. 

The Final Battle 

The competition between Smarkets and sportsbook is growing stiffer everyday, and none seems to want to pave the way for another. Players are now faced with the challenge of choosing the one to bet with depending on personal preferences. We’re here to make things a little simpler by breaking down the strengths and weaknesses each to help you make an informed decision when placing your bet with any of the platforms. 

Smarkets: Advantages & Disadvantages 


  • When betting with Smarkets, you’ll not have to pick a winner but instead, choose a team, or a horse that you think will not win. This offers several opportunities to win your bet. 
  • You choose to act as a bookmaker where you pick your best odds and wait to get a match 
  • You can make your profits earlier in the game or even before the start of the event 


  • You’ll not get all your money on the odds places since Smarkets takes 2% commission from your winning  
  • There are high chances of not getting your bets matched especially if you’re placing odds on less popular events or you laid a bet too close to the off time 
  • Learning how to lay bets is not easy. You need to take time to learn the tricks, or you lose undergoing a long term loss. 
  • Smarkets doesn’t have many betting markets available. It is not possible to lay your bets on individual scores, first-scorer, or minute by minute scores 

Sportsbooks – Advantages & Disadvantages  


  • Sportsbook operates with fixed odds. There are no fluctuations, and you always know what you’re going to get 
  • The sportsbook doesn’t take any commissions from your winnings hence you’ll get the full amount of what you win 
  • Sportsbook has multiples which work well to increase your profits. You can choose to bet on doubles, accumulators, and trebles 
  • Sportsbook offers several rewards and promotions as well as money-back offers which boosts returns and lowers risks 
  • You don’t have to wait for a long time to get your bet matched because the bets are readily available 


  • Sportsbook is riskier because you must pick a winner 
  • Once you’ve placed your bet, it becomes hard to change your mind and pick a different selection 
  • The odds are fixed and rarely change hence not easy to get bigger prices 


It’s not easy to choose whether to bet with sportsbook or Smarkets because they all come with their share of advantages and disadvantages. However, if you compare their pros and cons, you’ll find that it’s more convenient to place your bets on a sportsbook. 

Sportsbook exposes you various betting markets and a huge range of sports to bet on. They have better liquidity, and you’ll not have to wait for long for your bet to match because the odds are readily available. You must, however, accept that betting against a bookmaker exposes you to a greater risk of losing your bet. 

If you choose Smarkets, you’ll be in a better position placing your bets with minimum risks involved through lay betting and back betting. However, you need to understand that despite the risks, Smarkets do not guarantee fixed odds and your bets may not get a match. You should also be ready to part with a 2% commission on your winnings.

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