Smarkets - Overview & Rating
Smarkets began trading in 2010 with a view to disrupting the betting exchange market. From the outset, when Hunter Morris and Jason Trost started building the trading platform back in 2008, the emphasis was on rivalling Betfair’s market-leading exchange and rethinking the whole concept of betting. The new idea was to treat gambling as a financial market – a smart one, hence Smarkets – and, backed by its global team of 106 investors and engineers, the site has become a significant player. With offices in Malta, Los Angeles and London, the site has a global reach. In the UK, Smarkets is licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission, while its international operations are regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority.
Smarkets is widely available, but there are restrictions in several countries. Among the most prominent of those blocked by Smarkets are Australia, Czech Republic, France, Switzerland, China, Russia, South Africa, Denmark, Belgium,, the United States, Italy, Portugal, Hong Kong, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey and Kazakhstan.
Some landmarks came quickly: by the end of 2010, less than 10 months after trading its first bets, Smarkets surpassed £1 million in lifetime trades. It was also identified as one of Europe’s top 10 tech start-ups, according to Wall Street Journal Europe. Since then, it’s been a steady story of growth: during the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, Smarkets completed £1 billion worth of trades and today the total is over £15 billion. Media recognition continues to flow, with the likes of the Sunday Times, Wired, Deloitte and the inaugural FT1000 ranking all having good things to say about the organisation.
Today, Smarkets sees itself as a pioneer of the crossover between gambling and investing. Much of the imagery on its site resembles a fashionable internet start-up rather than the home of a hard-bitten sports fan.
But what exactly does Smarkets offer? Is it any better than rival exchanges? And can Smarkets be trusted to play a role in your betting portfolio?
From its start, Smarkets wanted to draw a clear distinction between investing and gambling. The line is pretty blurred, but the decision to ditch the gaudy graphics and primary colours so familiar on most sportsbooks is part of the attempt to differentiate the product. Here, it’s a sombre palette of black, greys, and greens on the exchange.
The same stance also informs Smarkets’ decision to display prominently a price of 1.27 about Barcelona to win at home to Getafe represents a 78.74% probability of a home win. This info also features in graph form when players click on any game that interests them – handy for calculating the total overround in any market and building a strategy that can lock in your profits. However, this kind of historic view of a market is of limited use for most events. It’s only of value when looking at big ante-post betting, such as the classic horse races or winners of Grand Slam tennis or golf tournaments. Again, though, it underlines Smarkets’ image as a financial trading tool rather than a gambling service.
Betting itself is intuitive if you’ve used an exchange before. Smarkets doesn’t show much market depth – just the current back and lay prices, plus one further step – but the odds are clearly displayed and placing your bet (sorry, making your investment!) is easy enough.
Navigation in Smarkets is also straightforward. The home page leads with details of the day’s top action. There’s a left-hand sidebar that links straight to the most popular sports, with an A-Z below. On the right, Smarkets lists its busiest markets and pulls up a bet slip as required. No big innovations, no big hassles.
Smarkets is purely a betting exchange, so you won’t be finding casinos, poker or lotto here. However, the markets are not limited exclusively to sports: from day one, Smarkets has been keen to promote bets on politics and will offer markets on major international polls right the way down to UK council elections (in some wards, turn-out can be as low as 15% – might more people bet than vote?). Other news stories – the potential impact of COVID on the Olympics and the European Championship – have their own markets, as do various TV and entertainment bets, from Eurovision to the Oscars.
As an exchange, Smarkets allows players to oppose outcomes that they think are unlikely. Thus, if you suspect that Barcelona is destined to struggle against Getafe, you can lay bets on the Catalan giants. Opposing them at 1.27 would expose a liability of £2.70 against a £10 potential win (by contrast, backing that at 1.26 would offer a potential £2.60 win off a £10 stake). Since these markets also run in-play, there is potential to lock in profit early by laying favourites before kick-off and backing them after a few minutes of play when the price will be longer – unless that favouritism is justified with an early goal!
Smarkets also allows players to request their own odds. Fancy Barca, but don’t want to accept 1.26? That’s OK, you can ask for any price you like. However, most markets in Smarkets are fairly rational: you won’t get even money very easily, but if Messi makes a slow start you could plausibly see the price drift to 1.33 or so after 10-15 minutes of action.
All of this is attractive – it gives a far greater degree of control to the punter – but it relies heavily on liquidity in the markets. For big games, this isn’t a problem. However, Smarkets has a relatively small client base (especially compared with Betfair, the behemoth of the betting exchanges), so markets on minor fixtures can be slow-moving or irrational due to a lack of available capital.
Like most gambling sites, Smarkets offers an app so you can bet on the move and never miss the big game. The Smarkets app is available for Android and iOS and comes highly recommended. One advantage of the clutter-free website design is that it translates very well to a mobile interface.
Smarkets routinely turns its markets in play and allows punters to keep on backing and laying until the outcome is known. The live trade mechanism in Smarkets is robust enough to handle pretty much any trade you throw at it, although short events like a horse race can see prices fluctuate too fast to make it possible to get on your preferred pick as it romps away from the field.
At present, there is no live streaming. Instead, you can follow your bet’s progress on Smarkets with a pictogram showing the general pattern of play. Some text commentary – generally limited – is available, as are basic stats. This kind of live information is done better elsewhere; look at Bet365 or Paddy Power for examples of the market leaders.
Smarkets offers a sign-up bonus. New customers of Smarkets depositing £20 (or currency equivalent) on the exchange will qualify for a cash refund on the first £10 of losses. Unusually, there are no minimum odds restrictions in Smarkets, although it is worth noting that punters using Skrill, Neteller, PayPal or virtual/prepaid cards will not be eligible for this offer.
As a sign-up deal, it’s not too shabby. Unfortunately, though, that’s all there is. No bet club, no offers of free bets or odds boosts, no ‘bet & get’ type offers. Once you’re in, you’re in. This is not unusual for exchanges; unlike fixed-odds sportsbooks, Smarkets and its rivals find it hard to offer boosted odds because of the nature of exchange betting. The key benefits for exchange punters are better-than-average odds on most markets, flexibility in setting the prices you want and – certainly at Smarkets – competitive rates of commission.
Smarkets prides itself on providing 24/7 customer support. The first port of call will usually be the online searchable helpdesk – there’s a link at the foot of the page. This offers a wealth of information about all things Smarkets and will often provide the answers to general queries about the site and how it operates.
However, that’s not always enough to solve your problem. Sometimes we need direct assistance. Smarkets offers five ways of contacting a representative: live chat, phone, email, social media and snail-mail. The Smarkets live chat is available whenever you are logged in to your account and is usually the quickest way of getting a response. The only minor flaw is the difficulty of attaching documents to your chat. Queries via email – [email protected] – should get a response within 24 hours.
Smarkets telephone helpline runs from 9 am until midnight (UK time) and can be reached on +44 (0) 207 617 7413. This is open to account holders only, calls will be charged at your standard network rate and, at present, there are reports of long waits for help as staff work from home due to COVID.
The signup process in Smarkets, for most users, is quick and easy. To join Smarkets, simply click on the green button at the top right-hand corner of the page and fill in the form with your details. After that, you can fund your first deposit. The site caters for several languages: English, Danish, Portuguese and Swedish. As is the case with most gambling sites, some UK customers may be asked to provide additional ID – typically a scan of a passport or driving license and a recent bank statement or utility bill will suffice.
Smarkets is not available in all countries. Key jurisdictions where the Smarkets site cannot be used include Australia, France, South Africa, Switzerland, Hong Kong, China, Belarus, Denmark, Belgium, Turkey, Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, Russia, the United States, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Normally, the whole registration process takes a matter of minutes and once you’ve deposited your first funds you can start betting on Smarkets’ exchange right away.
Smarkets currently supports five currencies: sterling, euros, and krone from Norway, Denmark and Sweden. There is a range of available payment options, including Open Banking, most forms of debit card, bank transfer and electronic payment systems including Neteller, Skrill, PayPal and Trustly. Most of these have a minimum deposit of £10 (or equivalent), but for Neteller and PayPal the minimum is £20 and on Trustly it is £40. Neteller and Skrill have a daily cap of £5,000, PayPal has a daily cap of £200. Withdrawals in Smarkets are also subject to a closed-loop system, meaning that customers cannot usually deposit funds from one source then withdraw to another.
As a betting service licensed by the UK Gambling Authority, Smarkets fulfils the key requirements for punters in Great Britain. Therefore, we can bet with confidence. For players outside of the UK, Smarkets’ Maltese license applies; again, this is a reputable setup.
That sense is reinforced by frequent positive media coverage. Smarkets has parlayed its current affairs markets into a status as something of a political analyst, available for hot takes on pressing issues based on how the markets react to policy announcements. The company also gets good write-ups for its success as a tech start-up and its progressive working conditions for staff.
The day-to-day stuff is also reassuring. Smarkets ensures SSL encryption on-site to keep your finances safe, and there is extensive information and advice available to help people overcome problems with their gambling.
As an exchange, Smarkets does most things well. Many of the problems with the site are to do with the differences between exchanges and regular sportsbooks. It’s unreasonable to criticise Smarkets for not providing odds boosts, for example, when this is a promo that only works for a traditional bookie. If you want that, the same company also offers SBK, a traditional sportsbook that operates entirely separately from the exchange.
That said, it’s always nice to get something extra. Smarkets would benefit from offering either a more generous sign-up bonus or some kind of ‘bet-and-get’ loyalty scheme. Smarkets might also look into offering streams of games and possibly improving its current live event graphics. However, these are fairly small details that should not detract from Smarkets strong offering.
Bonuses & Promotions
Smarkets.com operates in English, Portuguese and Swedish. There is also an English version for the US.
Products and apps
Smarkets offers sports betting exchange and live betting options for its customers. The same services are available in mobile mode and in the app. The Smarkets app is available both for Android and iOS devices. The Android device can be found in the website, while the iOS app in the App Store.
You can fund deposits in Smarkets via VISA, Mastercard, Maestro, Eurocard and Solo cards, Skrill, Neteller, Turstly, PayPal, Open Banking and bank transfer. The minimum deposit sum is £10 for all methods except for Trustly – £40, bank transfer and PayPal – £20. The maximum limit is £5,000 per day for Skrill and Neteller; £200 per day for Paypal; £100,000 per day for bank transfer. The processing is usually done instantly, except for bank transfer 3-5 business days. The bookmaker hold no commission for deposits.
The withdrawal can be made via VISA, Mastercard, Maestro, Eurocard and Solo cards, Skrill, Neteller, Turstly, PayPal, Open Banking and bank transfer. The minimum withdrawal amount is £10 for all methods except for bank transfer – £20. The maximum limit is £5,500 for PayPal and unlimited for bank transfer. The processing takes 12 hours for Open Banking; 1-6 business days for cards; 1-2 business days for Skrill, Neteller, Trustly and PayPal; 5-10 business days for bank transfer. The bookmaker holds no commission for payouts via all methods except for bank transfer – £10.
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Smarkets accept 6 currencies: the British pound, Euro, US dollar, Danish krone, Swedish krona and Norwegian krone.
Smarkets offers 3 standard methods for contacting its support team: call centre, email and live chat. Live chat is available only for registered users. Additionally, Smarkets offers Twitter (@SmarketsTech) and post (1 Commodity Quay, St. Katharine Docks, London, E1W 1AZ, United Kingdom) for contacting them.
as an arbitrator
Doesn't lower the maximums
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Pros and cons
Trade out is, in effect, the same as ‘cash out’ with other bookmakers. If you have a matched bet in place on Smarkets, and there is sufficient liquidity in the market, the ‘trade out’ button will appear. Using trade out enables bettors to lock in profits or cut losses while a bet is still playing out.
The commission rate on the Smarkets exchange is a competitive 2% – better than Betfair’s standard rate of 5%, and in line with Matchbook and Betdaq.
Yes, Smarkets is a fully registered and regulated gambling provider. Players in the UK should refer to license number 39173 from the Gambling Commission. Elsewhere in the world, Smarkets is licensed and regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA/B2C/162/2008).
This depends on how you choose to fund your Smarkets account. According to the website (Withdrawal process time – Smarkets Help Centre), the time taken to process a withdrawal can be anything from 12 hours (using open banking) to 10 days (via bank transfer). Card transactions are 1-6 days, and most of the electronic payments systems supported by Smarkets should complete the transaction within two days.