Exchange Betting: How It Works and the Pros and Cons

Master exchange betting to control wagers, set your own odds, and secure the best market odds. Explore its pros, cons, and availability in the US.
Exchange betting

Exchange betting offers a unique alternative to traditional sports betting, as it allows bettors to wager against each other rather than against a bookmaker. This form of betting takes place on an online platform called a betting exchange, where bettors can set their own odds, often leading to more generous offers compared to traditional bookmakers.

Understanding Back and Lay Betting

In a betting exchange, there are two types of bettors: the ‘back’ bettor and the ‘lay’ bettor. Back betting is similar to placing a wager on a standard betting site, where you bet on a specific outcome to occur. However, the key difference is that the back bettor can set their own odds. The betting exchange platform then finds a lay bettor who is willing to bet against the odds set by the back bettor. The winner of the wager takes the money from the opposing player, minus a commission for the betting exchange.

Lay betting, on the other hand, involves betting against the outcome chosen by the back bettor. This is similar to the role played by a sportsbook in traditional betting. Lay bettors can also create their own odds and determine their stake. The betting exchange calculates the liability, which is the amount the lay bettor must pay out if their wager loses. The payout, which is the amount won if the bet is successful, is calculated by multiplying the stake by the odds.

Comparing Betting Exchanges and Bookmakers

While betting exchanges and bookmakers both cater to bettors, they operate differently. Bookmakers make money by setting odds that encourage players to back both sides of an event, whereas betting sites only profit from the money lost by bettors. In exchange betting, bettors set their own odds and bet against each other, with one player choosing an outcome and another betting against it. This often results in larger profit opportunities compared to accepting odds from bookmakers.

Promotions are rare in betting exchanges, as the platform serves as an intermediary between bettors. Additionally, there are no cash-outs for users, meaning that punters must keep their bet until the end of the event.

Drawbacks of Exchange Betting

Despite the advantages of exchange betting, there are some drawbacks to consider. Finding a match for your bet can be challenging, especially if you’re betting on a niche sport or event. Betting exchanges also don’t typically offer bonuses or rewards for loyal players.

Legal Status of Exchange Betting in the US

Betting exchanges are legal in the US, but none have gone live yet due to complications arising from the Federal Wire Act of 1961. This Act prevents gambling information from being exchanged across state borders. However, two betting exchanges, Prophet Exchange and SportTrade, are planning to launch in New Jersey in 2022.


In conclusion, exchange betting provides a unique and potentially more profitable alternative to traditional sports betting. By allowing bettors to set their own odds and bet against each other, exchange betting offers greater opportunities for profit. However, it’s essential to consider the challenges of finding a match for your bet and the lack of promotions or bonuses before diving into exchange betting. With the planned launch of two betting exchanges in New Jersey in 2022, US bettors may soon have the opportunity to experience this exciting form of wagering.