Betfair Bookie Review

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The best known of the bet matching services available to Australian punters is undoubtedly Betfair. Permitting clients to participate in online wagering in the role of the bookmaker by laying bets to others who desire to back an outcome on certain markets in exchange for a fee is a nice concept, one at which Betfair has succeeded admirably.

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This approach goes well beyond that of other online bookmakers that have moved in a similar direction by offering clients a Favourite versus Field bet type. Clients also receive from Betfair the opportunity to trade their holdings with other clients in order to realise a profit on the exchange.

Betfair Betting Exchange

The company had it origin in Great Britain in 2000 and has experienced robust growth beginning in 2003 when it was the recipient of an award for innovation and excellence that was awarded by the Crown. Betfair currently lays claim to having close to five million customers worldwide and an employee head count of around 2,000, therefore giving it the ability to market itself as the largest Internet betting exchange in the world. The fact or fiction of this claim is not all that relevant, but the bottom line is that Betfair is doing more than a few things correctly in order to grow to the extent it has experienced in a field crowded with competitors.

Betfair’s privilege to operate in Australia comes via it license from Tasmania.

The company does function in the more traditional bookmaker role as well, an aspect of the operation on which we will focus in order to provide some information to anyone considering establishing a wagering account with Betfair. Since they do function as a bet matching service, however, we think it necessary to mention that revenues and profits derived from this area contribute to lower commissions, something near and dear to our hearts.

Betfair Racing Products

Very much like a bet placed with one of the TABs, with the important distinction that in many cases, a back bet would be matched with the lay bet of another punter, rather than the back wager becoming a part of the tote pool.

Lay Bets

This involves picking a racer to lose. A punter wishing to act as the bookmaker can accept all or part of a backer’s stake. Lay betting can be quite challenging, more so than would seem to be the case and engaging in it properly requires a sufficient degree of experience, so this is probably not something a newcomer would want to plunge into straight away. Lay bets constitute only a small portion of the markets. For example, a look at a recent upcoming Flemington meeting showed only one Lay bet on one runner in one race of an eight race card.

Betfair Review

Trading Bets

Since odds fluctuate more or less continuously in the time betwixt when a betting market opens and when it closes, punters have an opportunity to trade a wager in order to profit from a favourable change in odds. The profit from this activity is only a small percentage on the dividend from a correct wager. This concept of making a small profit for the reduced risk of shedding a wager before the event is very familiar to anyone who speculates in financial instruments, such as the stock market or retail currency exchange.

Not every race will have a large enough pool of punters to offer this feature. There may not be anyone willing to lay a prohibitive favourite, and even in cases where there are, the stakes are likely to be quite conservative.

Traditional Bet Types

For punters who prefer the simpler approach of backing a selection, Betfair has a complete array of racing products. This includes exotics and multis of course, in-play wagers subject to Australian government restrictions.

In terms of promotions, there were three ongoing at the time we checked. One was for bringing your mates into the Betfair fold, another was for membership in the Owners’ Club which was designed as an incentive for thoroughbred, harness and dog owners, and the third was the Cash Out feature available on selected exchanges which we mentioned earlier.

Our chief comment with regard to racing is that website interface was marvelously laid out, simple and uncluttered, but we did miss not having a dividend calculator on the bet slip, something we enjoy, but not really so critical in the age of decimal odds displays.

Betfair Sports

When we recently checked the odds being offered by eight major bookmakers, we found Betfair having clearly superior odd on a win bet in a Crows versus Tigers footy match. Betfair was quoting 2.30 for Crows backers, 10 cents better than the closest competitor, Luxbet. We acknowledge that for those of us making $10 footy bets, a dividend of $23 compared to $22 is inconsequential, but if we were standing on the street and a dollar blew along at our feet, we would stoop over to pick it up, and we are quite confident most would. Incidentally, the Crows did prevail in that match, so if you had taken that bet and used Betfair at the time we did our comparison, you would now have $23 instead of $22, and we doubt that would raise any complaints on your part.

Betfair Enhanced Odds

We would like to point out that there were far more lay bet and cash out opportunities in Betfair’s AFL, NRL, soccer, cricket and tennis markets. There were fewer sports markets overall compared to some of the other bookmakers, but all the major sports are adequately covered.

Once again, the layout of the wagering interface might very well be our absolute favourite. It did require a bit of scrolling on our part to find a link to Betfair’s mobile platform, but we did, and when we reviewed it earlier, we found it quite acceptable in all regards.

Some aspects of the Betfair operation argue favourably for its being acceptable for new punters. All account and wagering minimums were more than reasonable, plus there were no turnover requirements. Dormant account fees exist, but do not become a factor for 13 months. On the other hand, those who thrive on promotions and free bets will not see as many as are offered by other bookmakers. We do feel, however, that Betfair offers reasonable value, good odds, low margin and things of that nature that appeal to the dedicated, frequent punter.