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Betfair Review

When you talk betting exchanges, there’s only one game in town: Betfair. So do they offer a worthwhile alternative to traditional bookmakers?



Betfair was launched in the UK in 2000 and rapidly became an important part of the betting landscape. It was the first betting exchange to really launch into public consciousness and take on more traditional bookmakers in a widespread manner.

The first thing to be noted about Betfair is just that: it’s not a bookmaker. Betfair is a betting exchange, which means they merely provide a platform for punters on either side of a betting proposition to match their funds against each other at their nominated odds.

You ‘back’ (bet to win) or ‘lay’ (bet to lose) your selection, and your money is matched against somebody doing the opposite at the same odds. For example, you (and many others) back a horse at $6, and your bets are matched against punters laying it at $6. The winner collects, and pays a commission to Betfair.

Betfair came to Australia in 2005, with the Australian arm 50% owned by Crown Resorts (owner of CrownBet). In 2014 Crown bought out the rest of the Australian operation, so now own the Australian exchange in its entirety. All markets remain part of the international exchange however, so money is matched from all over the world and pools on overseas events remain very deep.


Website Layout, Mobile Usability and App

Betfair’s homepage includes a huge number of links to markets and features, including many for ‘The Hub’ – Betfair’s large section on Betting Education. It includes plenty of articles and tools to help you get your head around all the features of the exchange, and also on betting more generally.

It’s interesting to note that on the Betfair homepage, sport definitely takes precedence over racing in terms of the design and placement of items – perhaps a clue as to where Betfair see the future of the business and industry.

We’ll head straight to the familiar exchange racing page for a look at a standard race.

It’s a simple and straightforward format to use, showing all your options (SP or fixed exchange price) and the depth (volume) at each price. The depth numbers (the smaller number in each box) are very handy, showing you quickly how much money is available to be matched at each price. If you want to look even deeper, there’s plenty of third-party apps (approved by Betfair) that show the entire depth of a market at all prices.

Navigation between races is reasonably easy, as long as you select the correct item on the left hand menu. “Today’s Card” is the way to go, and you can then easily switch to whichever race you want.

In terms of mobile, Betfair has an app available for use which makes it easy to bet on the go. The app has all the features you need, though could be improved in a few areas – it doesn’t show a lot of information or market depth.

Another annoying feature is the app constantly logs you out when it’s not being used, and there’s no option for fast login, such as a PIN – you have to enter your full password every time. It can be irritating when you’re trying to get a bet on quickly. All in all, it’s easy enough to use, it just could be better with a few small improvements.

Interesting, the Betfair Australia mobile website is pretty slick, and shows more information, particularly when you tilt to landscape view. Hopefully some of these features are moved across to the mobile app soon.

  • Website Layout 4/5
  • Mobile App 2.5/5

Why Bet With Them

As we said, Betfair is a different product to regular bookmakers, and should be a crucial part of your betting portfolio.

The major reason is odds: the way Betfair works means a very low market percentage and prices that are often far better than you’ll get with the bookies. The key with Betfair – especially when it comes to racing – is that the majority of the volume hits the exchange very late in the piece. Much of the money on the lay side comes from bookmakers keen to lay off money from their own book – which can lead to some prices blowing right out to ensure bets are matched.

This can get you a much better price than you might get elsewhere. You’ll definitely want to have Betfair as an option when these prices present themselves.

Betfair is also the only way to bet against (lay) your selections – regular bookmakers don’t offer this.

Another very handy reason for having Betfair is as a market guide. An awful lot of ‘smart money’ is traded on Betfair, and it’s usually the first place in the market that a price shortens or drifts. This can be very informative when you’re deciding whether to take a fixed price or not with your bookmaker – if the price on Betfair is better, it’s often a sign that your selection is on the drift.

In terms of markets available on Betfair, the selection is almost endless. You’re betting onto the global exchange, so the options go far beyond Australian markets such as AFL, NRL, cricket and the like. As well as racing both here and overseas, there’s a huge amount of markets available on soccer, tennis, NFL, NBA, baseball and basically any sport you can think of.

  • Competitive Odds 5/5
  • Amount of Markets 5/5

Live Betting

Betfair take live bets on most popular sports, however unfortunately this is illegal online in Australia. So you now need to call the Betfair call centre to place a live bet. The Live Betting option covers all of the major sports such as AFL, NRL, cricket, NBA, NFL, soccer, rugby and tennis.

One very active ‘in play’ area on Betfair is racing, which is legal online in Australia. Betting in the run is a different proposition in racing, though many punters take part in it on Betfair and the volumes available are typically reasonable.

  • Live Betting 4/5

Client Profiling & Account Restrictions

One thing you don’t need to worry about with a betting exchange is being limited as a winning punter – it’s quite the opposite! Betfair make money by taking a commission from each winning bet (back or lay, whoever wins). The more that’s bet and matched, the more they collect – so it’s very much in their interests for people to bet more.

Commission is charged as a percentage on any profit made in each market. The vast majority of markets on Betfair have a 5% commission rate. Unfortunately, most Australian racing is higher than that, due to the race field fees charged by racing bodies to Betfair.

  • Treatment of Winners 5/5

Bottom Line

A Betfair account is simply a must-have for any punter who takes their punting even slightly seriously. The betting options, prices and number of markets available make it a necessity.

  • Website Layout 4/5
  • Mobile App 2.5/5
  • Competitive Odds 5/5
  • Amount of Markets 5/5
  • Promos 3/5
  • Live Betting 4/5
  • Treatment of Winners 5/5

Overall 4/5

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