The following is an in-depth review of the betting agency Smarkets. This review covers the history, features, interface, sports & racing markets, upsides and downsides of the service.
This review is part of our comprehensive Bookmaker Reviews section. The Betting Agencies page provides information and reviews for other sports betting agencies that are suitable for Australians. The following details are updated periodically to keep them up to date.
History, Location and Licence
Smarkets is a betting exchange that is headquartered in London and licensed in Malta. The service was launched in 2008 with the aim of creating a more advanced trading platform than Betfair. Like all competing betting exchanges, Smarkets doesn’t offer as much liquidity as Betfair, however it undercuts its larger rival by charging a flat 2% commission from users’ net winnings. In contrast, the base commission rate with Betfair is 5% with reduced commissions applying for regular users.1
Smarkets markets itself towards professional sports punters, traders and arbitrage bettors. In 2010 Smarkets was named one of 10 European start-ups to watch by the Wall Street Journal.2 In 2012 Smarkets was ranked 33rd in the UK Startups 100 awards.3
Services and Features
|Deposit options||Credit card, bank wire (overseas), Skrill/Moneybookers (which supports POLi) and Neteller. When using international bookmakers we recommend you use Skrill/Moneybookers.|
|Withdrawal options||Bank wire, Skrill/Moneybookers, Neteller|
|Transaction fees||2.5% for credit card deposits, £10/€12 for withdrawals by international bank transfer|
|Currencies||AUD, CAD, CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HUF, JPY, NOK, PLN, SEK, USD|
|Odds formats||Decimal, American, Fractional, Percent|
|Minimum deposit||$10 for credit card, $30 for Neteller, $10 for Skrill|
|Minimum withdrawal||$10 for credit card, $30 for Neteller, $10 for Skrill|
|Maximum bet/payout||Smarkets is an exchange rather than a bookmaker so your limits are dependent on the level of market activity.|
|Deposit turnover requirements||1x, although a refund of a deposit may be considered at Smarkets’ discretion|
|Bonus credit turnover requirements||1x|
|Bookmaker margin||Smarkets charges a 2% commission on net winnings. As with any exchange the effective margin is dependent on the level of member participation in the market, called the liquidity. The margins are higher in less active markets.|
|Forbidden Jurisdictions||France, Turkey and the United States|
|Mobile betting||A mobile version of the site is available|
|Identity checks||Smarkets retains the right to examine and confirm the identity of its account holders. Smarkets is required to authenticate the identity of any member attempting to withdraw an amount over 1,750 pounds sterling or the equivalent in any other currency. Smarkets may also choose to authenticate the identity of a member withdrawing smaller amounts. If required you can use an online form on their website to upload one copy of the following documents from each category:
1. A government-issued form of photographic identification:
– Driving licence with photo
– National Identity Card
– Firearms or shotgun licence
2. A Proof of your address:
– Residency certificate issued by a government authority
– Bank, Building Society or Credit Union statement dated within the last 3 months
– Utility bill dated within the last 3 months
– Local authority tax bill/council tax bill for current year
|Dormant account fees||If you don’t log in for a period of 24 months an administrative fee equivalent to 5.00 GBP/Euro per month will be charged. Smarkets will notify you that an inactive account fee will be charged 30 days prior to any fees being incurred.|
|Support||Email, phone (UK number)|
Betting Interface and Website Layout
The Smarkets interface employs a familiar three-column layout, with a sports navigation panel on the left, markets & odds in the centre and active bets on the right.
The navigation menu lists the available sports that are in season. When you select a sport the associated subcategories are displayed dynamically to the right in a new column, which shifts the rest of the website to the right. As you navigate through the levels of sub categories (e.g. Football -> UK -> Championship -> Blackburn vs. Cardiff), each new sub category appears to the right as a new column. This novel arrangement is clean and intuitive, with the new sub categories still displayed if you move your cursor away from the navigation menu.
For football you can select ‘Coupons’ to view all upcoming fixtures for a particular league. For most other sports you can only view the odds for one fixture at a time, however all markets for that fixture are displayed on the same page.
In the odds and markets column, Smarkets uses the terms ‘For’ and ‘Against’ as opposed to the ‘Back’ and ‘Lay’ terminology employed by Betfair. The best (highest) available ‘For’ odds are displayed in green while the best (lowest) available ‘Against’ odds are displayed in red. The next best available For and Against odds are displayed to the left and right of the best For & Against odds, respectively. Below every set of odds is a currency amount denoting how much is available to match at those odds. The odds dynamically flash to indicate odds movements.
The right column defaults to displaying your active bets for the relevant market, however you can change this to display all of your active bets, with links that take you back to those markets.
Overall, we really like the interface. It has a clean, crisp design and the functionality is highly intuitive for those who are familiar with betting exchanges.
At the time of writing the market selections were horse racing, football, tennis, American football, baseball, cricket, golf, politics and current affairs, however this only represents the sports that were in season at the time of review.
The market depth is good for English football, although liquidity drops as you descend through the lower divisions. Liquidity is poor for the other football leagues and most other sports.
At the time of review we couldn’t find any futures markets. This is a shame because exchange betting lends itself perfectly to futures betting due to the ability to hedge your bets (thus freeing up funds) as the season progresses.
Due to the low 2% commissions, Smarkets does compete well with Betfair on popular head-to-head markets (see comparison below), however Betfair offers better value on less popular events.
Events at selected UK venues are covered. Win and Place markets are offered.
Live Sports Betting
Unlike Australian licensed bookmakers and exchanges 4, Smarkets does support online in-play wagering on selected events, however the level of market participation is generally low from our experience. With that being said, there is enough liquidity to wager in-play on the popular events. The live betting interface is the same as that for the rest of the site, but with an eight second delay before your wager is accepted. If you are looking for a betting exchange that supports online in-play betting for Australians, you should also consider WBX.
- Low minimum stake of $0.05
- Online in-play (live) betting in an exchange environment
- Excellent betting interface
- Low 2% commissions
- No premium charges for winning punters
- Your betting history can be downloaded as a .csv file
- A public odds XML feed is available
- Can set deposit and loss limits
- Self-exclusion feature to block your access for six months
- Less liquidity than Betfair, especially on non-football markets
- Limited markets for sports other than football, cricket, tennis and the main US codes (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL)
- Not licensed in Australia
- Online in-play betting liquidity not as deep as WBX
- Administration fees charged on inactive accounts
- API was still in development at the time of review
Smarkets has become the latest betting exchange to offer Australian dollar accounts. Like most competitors of Betfair, Smarkets doesn’t offer as much liquidity, however it does charge lower commissions of 2% compared to the base rate of 5% with Betfair. Another major upside is because it isn’t licensed in Australia, Smarkets does offer online in-play wagering, which works really well in an exchange environment due to the ability to bet directly against previous selections. For popular events we found Smarkets to compare favourably against Betfair due to the lower commissions, however with most other markets Betfair offers better value. The range of sports covered is currently very modest so Smarkets is more of a niche exchange with a focus on football and to a lesser extent, cricket and tennis. Smarkets isn’t yet big enough to work as a primary betting membership, but for fans of football betting it would work well within a portfolio of account memberships due to its competitive odds and commissions on popular matches. Fans of the AFL & NRL should look elsewhere, however those who wager on football should definitely check Smarkets out.