Smarkets, like Betfair, is a betting exchange. Smarkets operates out of London and is licensed in Malta. Smarkets has been around since 2008 and, like most other betting exchanges not named Betfair, has been trying diligently to catch up to the industry leader (that would be BetFair). Smarkets takes a 2% commission on winnings from users which is slightly less than Betfair and slightly more than Matchbook; another, similar betting exchange that, like Smarkets, has liquidity issues from time to time. The difference between Smarkets and Matchbook however is that Matchbook takes their 1.5% on every bet, winning or losing. While Smarkets, as we said, confine their commissions to winnings.
Although Smarkets is by no means ignoring the casual bettor their site is really geared more toward the professional: those people who’ve been at it a long time, need little introduction to the particulars and gamble large sums.
Website and Liquidity
As is the case with most betting websites Smarkets feature a 3 column layout with your sports options listed on the left, relevant odds and markets in the middle and you betting slip on the right in effect creating column 3. Sure it’s familiar and it’s not going to win and design awards, but it works so we’re okay with it.
The nature of the betting exchange more often than not means that liquidity can be an issue and that’s the case with Smarkets, although it should be said that liquidity issues these days seem to be confined mostly to the lower football leagues. In the recent past Smarkets were also experiencing liquidity issues with some of the more high-visibility sports including Football, tennis and golf. But, while shortages still pop up here and there, most of those issues seem to have been resolved. Still, don’t be surprised if you encounter a liquidity issue while using the site.
Smarkets provide in-play betting on most of their sports although market participation can be iffy. Those sports include:
- Horse Racing
- American Football
The in-play interface is the same as it is for the rest of the site which makes acclimating yourself to the Smarkets in-play experience a no-hassle process. The bottom line benefit being that you can get right into betting without having to endure the kind of steep learning curve associated with the in-play sections of some other websites. As with other betting exchanges, however, you need to be aware that there’s a delay of up to around 10 seconds so that unmatched bets can be cleared.
Smarkets Bonus and Promotional Offers
Smarkets are in the same boat with other betting exchanges in that you won’t get much by way of a Smarkets free bet or other promotions. But there is a Smarkets bonus you can claim upon signup and it goes like this:
- Deposit at least £20.
- Receive your Smarkets bonus – It will be shown at the bottom right of your account page.
- Place your bets – Any loss you incur with your initial deposit will be covered up to £10.
It’s not much we know but it’s better than nothing. The thing with betting exchanges is that they feel they already offer you a kind of bonus on every bet because you often get better odds than you’d get with a traditional bookmaker and their commission is lower than that of traditional betting websites. It’s a logical argument that’s easy to understand. But just the single Smarkets free bet still rings a bit hollow for most punters.
Deposits and Payments
Smarkets offer an array of methods for depositing and claiming money. Those methods are the same for both deposits and payments and include:
- VISA – Debit
- Skrill Moneybookers
- Bank Transfer
Smarkets suggest that if you want instant free deposits as well as unlimited withdrawals that you use a VISA debit card for your payments.
What We Like About Smarkets
We like the website design. It’s clean and clear and if you’ve spent time on other betting exchange sites the design should feel familiar and facilitate your enjoyment. We like the variety of sports they offer, particularly for in-play betting. We like the welcome Smarkets free bet. We like that they make payments and deposits easy and quick and we like the low 2% commission when compared to Betfair’s 5%. We like you can set your own deposit limits and we like that they allow you to download your betting history. We also like that if you’re a successful punter you don’t get hit with premium charges.
Things We’re Not Crazy About
We’re not crazy about the lack of liquidity that raises its ugly head on lower level events and even the occasional premium event. We’re not crazy about the fact that the company aren’t licensed in Australia. We’re not crazy about the fees that are assessed to inactive accounts and we’re not crazy about the limited markets for second and third tier events. And you know what? Even though we have no reasonable right to expect much by way of Smarkets bonus offers we’re not crazy about the fact that the Smarkets free bet is their only bonus. Call us finicky. And for the record we also aren’t crazy about the fact that the site is geared toward experienced bettors rather than taking a more egalitarian approach.
Smarkets Bookmaker Conclusion
As of this writing Smarkets are not yet a threat to Betfair by any stretch of the imagination but that’s clearly what they seem to be aiming for. They’ll need to clear up their liquidity issues however before they can be mentioned in the same breadth. Right now they’re more on par with Matchbook and there’s nothing wrong with that. Both are reliable, often fun platforms for carving out your own space in the online gambling universe. It’s a bit doubtful that the experienced punters Smarkets is after will be thrilled by encountering liquidity issues but they have made progress in clearing those issues up so maybe their business model will find its footing in the coming years.