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The introduction of betting exchanges over recent years has changed the way in which the world of betting operates. Betting exchanges allow the general public to place bets directly with other people through websites such as Betfair, Betdaq, or Smarkets.
Bookmakers have ruled the world of betting in the past but now they have some serious competition. The odds they offer to the general public are generally worse than the betting exchanges for one simple reason: the bookmakers are over-rounding the odds in order for them to make a profit. The average over-round by the bookmaker is 15-20%.
This means that it is possible to gain 15-20% better odds through online exchanges. Exchanges do charge a 3-5% commission on winning bets however, so this need to be taken into account when trying to find the best value.
Our recommendation therefore is to check with an odds comparison site before placing your bets - our favourite is Oddschecker - if the strategy you're using advises taking the current price.
The bookmaker is not to be completely overlooked. Recently, knowing the potential for the exchanges to take their customers, bookmakers have began offering incentives, the most significant being the Best Odds Guarantee. BOG allows the bettor to take current odds on a horse, and if the price is higher at the start of the race, the bettor will receive the higher odds. If the horse steams, the bettor will still get their original odds.
The majority of profitable racing products make their money by creating a winning edge, however this will usually only tip the odds slightly in our favour.
This is why it's important we find the best price possible when we are using a betting system or service.
A point to note: the odds are also only one part of the problem with bookmakers; if you are consistently making a profit from a bookmaker they are eventually going to restrict your account. Exchanges, on the other hand, do not need to do this because you are not betting against them. They receive their commission off the winning outcome, therefore it makes no difference to them who is making profit.
The solution to this problem is to ensure we have accounts with a range of bookmakers and exchanges. Not only will this mean we can compare odds and place our bets with whichever company is offering the best, it also means we are not always placing bets with the same bookmaker, meaning our accounts are less likely to be restricted.