Sports are the most popular form of entertainment today that people bet on. But there are different ways in which they do that. From traditional sports betting through betting exchanges and daily fantasy sports, people choose the one that best fits their needs. But what is the difference between the three? Let’s explore them all below.

Sports betting


Sports betting is the most common – and most widespread – of the three. It is a traditional activity that’s been with us since gladiator fights and chariot races and has remained popular over the centuries.

How does sports betting work?

The basics of sports betting are pretty simple. In a competition, there’s a winner and a loser (sometimes a draw). People can bet on either of these options. It is likely that, traditionally, people could win even money if their wager was successful. Later, odds were introduced to reflect the likelihood of either of the outcomes, along with the money that can be won by wagering on them.

Today, it’s as easy as opening a web browser or downloading the Betway app to start betting online.

How do odds work?

Depending on the format used, the odds express how likely an outcome is or how much you have to wager to win a certain amount.

Decimal odds

Decimal odds are expressed as a number with decimals, like 1.3 or 2.1. It shows bettors how much they can expect to win with a successful wager as “stake times odds”. For example, a $100 bet with odds of 1.3 means total winnings of $130, of which $100 is the stake, and $30 is the net profit.

Decimal odds are inversely proportional to the likelihood of an outcome. When you have odds of 1 for an outcome, the likelihood of that outcome is 100%. The higher the odds, the less likely an outcome is. Of course, the odds listed by bookmakers are not the true odds (equal to the likelihood of an outcome). They are calculated to take into account the bookmakers’ interest and the house edge.

Fractional odds

As their name shows, these odds are written in the form of a fraction, like 1/2 or 11/10. This format is common in the UK and Ireland. Fractional odds are better at expressing the likelihood of an outcome but make calculating potential winnings a bit more complicated.

To calculate potential winnings, you need to multiply the numerator with the stake and divide the total by the denominator. For example, if the odds are ½ and the stake is $100, you have (1×100)/2 = $50. Note that this expresses the net winnings, not the total amount you get if you win.

Money line odds

Money line odds are focused on stakes and winnings. They are based on a stake of $100 with favourites (the side most likely to win) getting a negative number, like -333, and underdogs (the side least likely to win) a positive one, like +100.

+100 in this case is like a bet with 2.0 decimal odds. If you bet $100 with +100 odds means you can expect to make $100 in profits. -333, in turn, is like a bet with 1.3 decimal odds – you need to bet $333 to make $100 in profits.

How does a betting exchange work?


A betting exchange is not a traditional betting platform – it’s more like a marketplace where bettors bet against each other.

Suppose there’s a bettor who thinks Team A will win against Team B. They “back” this outcome at odds of 1.2. The exchange puts them up against another bettor who thinks that this will not happen, and is willing to “lay” the bet at the same odds. The bet is then settled between the two bettors, with the exchange getting a commission.

What makes betting exchanges great is that they allow bettors not only to bet on a certain outcome but also against it. Also, there is the possibility for one bettor to both back and lay the same outcome at different odds, making sure that they win no matter the outcome.

Betting exchanges can be a great way to wager on sports – but they are far less straightforward than traditional betting sites.

How do daily fantasy sports work?


Often conflated with sports betting, daily fantasy sports (DFS) is something completely different, both when it comes to the structure and the potential winnings.

Players build a team consisting of real-life athletes, respecting a salary cap. As the athletes play, their stats are recorded by the DFS site and count toward the performance of the player’s team.

Players participate in daily or weekly “tournaments”. They pay entry fees toward a prize pool, and they win a share of this pool based on the performance of their teams. Of course, the DFS operator also gets a cut of the pool.

DFS can be a fun way for fans with in-depth knowledge of their favorite sports to earn a bit of extra money. But to be truly successful in this game, and win a lot, players need to spend countless hours putting stats in spreadsheets and calculating probabilities.

Which one is the right choice for you?


In most cases, the traditional form of sports betting is the perfect choice. This offers safer and riskier bets, catering to casual players and thrill-seekers alike. Betting on a sporting event can elevate the experience, adding something extra on top of enjoying a sporting match, and this can be a good thing as long as it doesn’t begin to turn into an obsession.

If making profits is your goal, a betting exchange is perhaps a better choice. It does take a lot more work, but it can be a profitable endeavor.

DFS is an activity for those with in-depth knowledge about a certain sport and its players. Those who are always up-to-date with the latest updates about the players will likely find it not just a fun thing to do but also a profitable one in the long run.

Whichever you choose, though, always make sure you do it responsibly, and within your means.