When it comes to betting exchanges, one name utterly dominates all others – Betfair. Having been founded back in 1999, Betfair have made an incredible success of their innovative method of sports betting, in which users wager against each other, rather than using odds set by a bookie.
Over the years, though, more and more competitors have sprung up. Smarkets is reportedly the second-biggest betting exchange in the world right now, and promise exceptional value courtesy of their ‘industry-leading commission rates’.
In this comprehensive Smarkets review, you’ll discover everything you need to know about this highly successful, ultra-confident exchange. Let’s get started!
UK + IRE only, 18+, Full T&Cs apply
Respectable welcome offer
Great mobile experience & overall layout
Solid customer support
Smarkets Sign Up Offer
The mechanics of actually betting might differ between online exchanges and sportsbooks, but some principles remain the same. One of the most notable examples is that both types of website rely heavily on tasty welcome offers to bring in new customers.
The Smarkets new customer offer – simply titled ‘£10 Welcome Bonus’ – is certainly a competitive deal. To trigger it, you must simply open an account and deposit at least £20, using either a credit/debit card or bank transfer. Bet through the equivalent of that deposit (e.g. £30 if you deposited £30), and your first £10 in losses will be refunded, in the form of a bonus (a Smarkets free bet, essentially).
Like all welcome offers, this one comes with a few T’s & C’s attached. These are the main ones to be aware of:
- Must deposit at least £20, as one single deposit, to qualify
- Before claiming bonus, must bet through deposit amount
- Qualifying bets can be made on any combination of markets
- Deposits using Skrill, Neteller and PayPal are ineligible
- Unused bonuses will expire three months after being awarded
This might not be the most spectacular welcome promotion out there, but it’s a solid effort. You can essentially think of it as a risk-free bet, worth £10… but with the added bonus that you don’t have to place that all in one go. Instead, it simply covers the first £10 of your total losses, as you go about your regular betting. There are no nasty conditions to detract from the appeal, either; asking you to bet through your initial deposit amount, with no restrictions on the odds or markets, is a perfectly reasonable requirement in our eyes.
Smarkets Ongoing Promotions
Like welcome offers, ongoing promotions are arguably just as important with betting exchanges as with sportsbooks. In this light, it’s a little disappointing to discover that most users will only have one Smarkets offer available to them at the time of writing.
That single offer is pretty intriguing, though it’s certainly more suited to the more serious punters out there. It’s called ‘Winter Premier League promotion’, and delivers decent value to regular EPL bettors. To qualify, you need to have settled bets on at least five Premier League games within a given week, with ‘exposure’ of £10 or more (for example, a £10 back bet, or a £5 lay bet at 3.0 (2/1), would both qualify). There are no odds requirements attached to this, which greatly increases the offer’s value. Satisfying these conditions nets you a tidy £10 bonus, and the offer can be triggered every single week, up to a total possible return of £100 in bonuses.
The only other Smarkets promotions are referral deals, accessed via external partners of Smarkets. There are three such offers, each of which grants you 0% commissions until the end of March 2020. Given that they require signing up and spending money with other websites before you can access them, though, we can’t necessarily recommend these ourselves. If you’re interested in doing a little research into those partners, you can check out a list of them here.
Smarkets Football Features
Football has its own dedicated section on Smarkets, and – as with the rest of the website – navigation is made pretty darn smooth. On the home page, you’ll immediately be shown the biggest upcoming games at that time, along with the odds as both decimals and percentages (i.e. the implied probability of each outcome).
One look at those implied probabilities will immediately inform you that you’re getting fairer odds on your football betting here than on a sportsbook. The total percentage of the outcomes is much closer to 100%, primarily because there’s no built-in ‘vig’, or ‘overround’. The trade-off – as with all betting exchanges – is that you pay a commission on all bets. That commission is set at a fair, flat rate of 2% on Smarkets, though, which is the standard rate in the exchange industry right now.
Finding a specific market is made easy, thanks to a series of links lower on the home page – ‘UK’, ‘Europe’, ‘South America’ and so on – with each competition housed in the relevant section. Alternatively, you can use the equally straightforward dropdown menus to the left. In-play, upcoming and outright markets are all available, and – while there’s technically no Smarkets cash out option – you can still trade out of an existing wager by betting the opposite outcome. Also, as with all exchanges, you can essentially set your own price, assuming there’s enough action on the market.
On that note, Smarkets provide some extremely useful information to inform your football betting. Not only can you see the total amount of money which has been traded on a game; you can see how much people have bet on a specific market, and even a graph of how the odds for the overall winner markets have changed over time. Whether you’re looking to follow group wisdom, or go against the grain, you always know exactly how you’re stacking up against the betting public on Smarkets. If you’ve only used sportsbooks for your football betting before now… that really is a tantalising prospect.
Other Betting Markets
In general, Smarkets has matched up pretty well with the likes of Betfair so far. When it comes to betting markets, though, there’s really no competition.
On Betfair, you’ll basically find a range of other betting markets which compares favourably with most sportsbooks. Smarkets pales in comparison. To be fair, most of the biggest markets are indeed included, such as horse racing, cricket, boxing, rugby, and golf. There are some very notable omissions though, with Formula 1, greyhound racing, cycling, and wider athletics being just a few examples. All of these are present on Betfair.
We understand that an exchange – which is completely driven by its users – might not have as many secondary markets as a sportsbook. If there’s no action, after all… then nothing happens on the exchange! The omissions we’ve listed are major markets though, and it’s baffling that Betfair would include them whilst Smarkets – a big exchange itself – wouldn’t bother.
Mobile Betting Options & App
Both sportsbooks and betting exchanges can be hit and miss when it comes to their mobile features. In the case of Smarkets, though, we’re pleased to say that they’ve clearly put a huge focus on on-the-go betting.
For starters, there is a Smarkets app available for both major mobile operating systems. The Smarkets Android app can be downloaded through Google Play or directly via the website as an APK file, while the iOS version is available through the App Store. The app enjoys outstanding user ratings on both platforms, averaging 4.5/5 on Google Play (982 ratings) and 4.8/5 on the App Store (3.7k ratings).
We’re pleased to say that our own experiences mirrored this enthusiasm. The futuristic black, white and green colour scheme looks fantastic on a mobile device, and the text – whether it be for market names or odds – is large enough to read comfortably. Smarkets have also done a great job of conveying all the information you get on the desktop version here too, whilst making some smart design decisions to do so; having the price change graph as a pop-up, rather than hogging a lot of screen size by default, for example. Odds update extremely frequently, and – in general – none of the functionality has been lost compared to the main website.
If you don’t want to download the Smarkets app for any reason, then don’t worry – the mobile version of the site is also excellent. It follows the same general layout as the desktop version, being extremely easy to navigate using either the main interface or the dropdown menu, and everything loads quickly and smoothly on the Smarkets mobile site too.
Smarkets make a big deal of their technical prowess, calling themselves “one of the world’s… most technologically advanced betting exchanges”… so you’d hope their security would be up to scratch!
We’re pleased to say that Smarkets do an outstanding job of providing security-related details, with several pages on the subject on their site. All communications are encrypted, transactions are protected by TLS and SSL, and customer funds are deposited in a separate holding company.
In addition to all of that, Smarkets also hold full licenses with both the UK Gambling Commission and Malta Gaming Authority. Basically, if you were wondering ‘Is Smarkets legit?’, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’!
Opening an Account
We’re happy to say that the Smarkets signup process is extremely straightforward. It’s split up into two easy sections and only takes a minute or two to complete.
At the first stage, you set your basic account details, including your password and preferred currency. You also provide your email address and date of birth, and can enter a referral code if you have one. After that, you’ll enter the rest of your personal details; specifically your name, phone number and address.
Once you’ve completed those two sections, your account is ready to go. You’ll be invited to set deposit limits, if you wish, before going on to fund your account.
As we’ve seen already, Smarkets is clearly a high level website. Fortunately, this extends to their range of banking options too, which are simply excellent.
When it comes to making a deposit, every major base is truly covered. You can use credit/debit card, Neteller, Skrill, Trustly, bank transfer, or PayPal (which is often a frustrating absence on betting sites). All deposits are processed instantly, and there are no fees attached. The minimum deposit amount is £10 using a card, Neteller or Skrill; £20 for bank transfers or PayPal; and £40 for Trustly.
There is a ‘closed loop’ system in place when making a Smarkets withdrawal, meaning the withdrawal must be made using the same method as the deposit. There are no fees attached here either, and withdrawals are processed within either 1-2 or 2-6 days depending on the method. The minimum withdrawal amount is £10 for all methods except bank transfer (£20) and Trustly (£40).
Here we find yet another area in which this impressive betting exchange excels. The Smarkets customer service offering is extensive, covering every contact option you’d hope to find.
Crucially, live chat is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week, which is obviously brilliant. Elsewhere, you can also get in touch via phone between 09:00 and 00:00, email, Twitter, or – if you really want to – post.
Aside from the direct Smarkets contact methods, you’ll also find a fantastic Help Centre in place. This encompasses a selection of FAQ posts, other informative articles on everything from payment methods to arbitrage calculators, and you can find exactly what you’re looking for in no time thanks to a highly effective search tool.
Smarkets Company Details
Smarkets’ success story is truly astounding. Having only been founded in 2008 (almost a decade after Betfair, for reference), they have grown to become – by some accounts – the second-biggest betting exchange in the world. Over £14 billion’s worth of bets have been processed so far on the platform, and – in addition to their London headquarters – Smarkets now also have offices in Malta and Los Angeles.
Oh, and they’re not done yet. Smarkets are still extremely ambitious in their plans to spread around the world, and – within months of the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow gambling – had already secured licenses to being operating in multiple states in the USA.
Smarkets Bottom Line
This isn’t a perfect betting exchange by any means… but then again, such a thing surely doesn’t exist. Make no mistake about it, though – we loved our time with Smarkets.
Almost everything about this platform screams class, from the visually-appealing and intuitively-designed layout, to the amount of information you’re given to inform your betting. Most of the fundamentals are executed brilliantly too, whether that be payment methods, security, or particularly customer service.
We only noted two major areas for improvement in our Smarkets review: the slight lack of other betting markets besides football, and the bigger lack of ongoing promotions. That said, these are absolutely, 100% outweighed by the many positives.
Overall, we have no trouble whatsoever giving Smarkets a big thumbs-up, and we highly recommend checking out their solid ‘£10 Welcome Bonus’ today.
UK + IRE only, 18+, Full T&Cs apply