Smarkets is predominantly a sports betting exchange, although it does also provide markets based on current affairs and political events, such as the Mercury Prize and the US presidential election.
Smarkets was founded in January 2008, is headquartered in London and is licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority. Smarkets publicly launched in 2010 and is backed by Deutsche Telekom’s venture capital arm T-Venture and Passion Capital. Smarkets estimates it will record £6 million in pre-tax profits for 2015. 2015 saw Smarkets reach the £1 billion milestone in traded bets.
To pave the way for its expansion in to the Irish market, Smarkets has also been licensed as a remote betting intermediary by the Revenue authorities in the Republic of Ireland. The core market for Smarkets, remains the UK, however.
Initially Smarkets was marketed as the social betting exchange. In an attempt to attract professional traders, Smarkets now positions itself as a site where its customers can apply financial trading principles to the online sports world.
Smarkets covers a large number of sports, including Football, Horse Racing, Golf, Cricket, Tennis, Basketball, Rugby, Darts, American Football and Ice Hockey.
Smarkets develops its exchange software entirely in-house and uses the latest cutting edge technologies in the exchange. One of the intended benefit of the technologies Smarkets uses is financial-exchange-rivaling downtime figures. Although Smarkets has had downtime issues in the past, at the time of writing, their exchange is running at 99.9864% uptime.
Smarkets provides in-play markets, and to differentiate itself from its competitors, offers an "Instant Match" feature (initially called DangerBall) in some markets of this type . Unlike other exchanges, which impose a delay before matching a bet in an in-play market, Smarkets matches bets instantly so that customers never miss a price due to a delay. To protect its customers, Smarkets monitors in-play markets for "danger periods" (i.e. a material event such as a goal or red card, which gives "courtsiders" and those with a faster feed an advantage), and automatically voids bets if such a event happens within eight seconds of the bet being matched.
Smarkets charge a flat commission rate, 2%, on all net winnings (i.e. customers only pay fees when they win a bet). Their FAQ guarantees that this commission rate will never be increased. (Matchbook’s commission rate is lower; however this exchange changes commission on both winning and losing bets.) Unlike Betfair, they don’t impose a premium charge. (Another way Smarkets hopes to attract the professional betting sector.)
Smarkets’ betting markets are not currently included by Oddschecker, the popular odds comparison site.
Smarkets provide an exchange API. However it is not currently available for public consumption. The API is provided as a service for market makers who provide exchange liquidity, particularly in less active markets such as baseball, volleyball and ice hockey.
This means other users most currently use Smarket’s web based interface. It is not possible at the moment to develop a custom Smarkets API application or use a third party one with this exchange. Smarkets does try to make its web site as quick to navigate as possible, their are lots of shotcuts and it’s possible to place a bet straight from the home page without the need for multiple clicks to go into a market page.