Regulations on bettingThe term betting exchange is used to describe a form of bookmaking in which the operator offsets its risk perfectly through technology, such that the effect to the customer is that customers are seen to bet between themselves. Coined because of its apparent similarities to a stock exchange - it is often defined as "a stock exchange for bets" - it is therefore commonly seen as a peer-to-peer gambling website, when in fact it is more closely described as "many-to-many" (i.e. most bets are not strictly one person on one side betting against one on the other). Equally, it is often suggested, or commonly believed, that the operator is merely acting as a broker between parties for the placement of bets, rather than a bookmaker, although the reality is that bets are being accepted and offered simultaneously through the exchange's technological interface. Since it is only the exchange operator who holds a bookmaker's licence in most cases, the legal and licencing requirements invariably dictate that the legal contract for all bets be with the operator itself and not between customers. Most betting on a betting exchange has been a form of fixed odds gambling, although recently the phenomenon has also been established in the spread betting markets.
Most exchanges make their money by charging a commission which is calculated as a percentage of net winnings for each customer on each event, or market. Gamblers whose betting activities have traditionally been restricted by bookmakers (normally for winning too much money) have found these sites a boon since they are now able to place bets of a size unrestricted by the exchange - the only restriction is that one or more opposing customers need to be willing to match their bets. Moreover, the odds available on a betting exchange are usually better than those offered by bookmakers, in spite of the commission charged, because the middle man is eliminated.
In spite of these advantages, exchanges currently have some limitations. Because exchanges seek to concentrate their liquidity in as few markets (i.e. propositions) as possible they are not currently suited to unrestricted multiple parlay betting. Betfair does offer accumulators but these are limited in number and type: Users cannot determine the outcomes contained in accumulators themselves. Some exchanges also offer multiples but the exchanges act in the same manner as traditional bookmakers in doing so (i.e. they themselves and not a customer act as the layer of such bets) Exchanges also tend to restrict the odds that can be offered to between 1.01 (100 to 1 on i.e. 1 to 100) and 1000 (999 to 1).
A further advantage that traditional bookmakers retain over exchanges is that bookies are better willing and able to allow customers to bet on credit. There are two obvious reasons for this: