Betfair has two options for sports betting – a normal online bookmaker and a betting exchange. The sportsbook section operates just like a typical bookie and you bet against the house. In the betting exchange you are effectively betting directly against other people’s opinion.
The sportsbook is the place for anyone who views themselves as a slightly novice punter. You can always graduate to using the betting exchange as well once you are comfortable enough to do so.
With the betting exchange section, it is their clients who act as the bookmakers and so dictate the odds available. Because of the volume of individuals trading, it means this is workable because on a big profile event the turnovers become enormous.
You basically have a choice of either backing (betting on a selection in the normal way) or laying (being the bookmaker and offering up a price).
This a different way of betting to the traditional and so might not appeal to the infrequent or rookie sports punter. It takes a degree of knowledge to get used to Betfair’s unique exchange system and software. The sportsbook is more straighforward.
One advantage of the betting exchange is that you often get better value betting odds than offered by the bookmakers. However the flip side of this is that this tends to happen on the biggest events only where there is huge volume (for instance a Premier League match betting market). Unfortunately on some of the lesser betting markets (for instance ‘anytime goalscorer’ for the same event) the volume of trades being offered is so thin that you are unlikely to get the wager on that you want and so the sportsbook section might be preferable.
What follows here is more detail. If you are hungry to get a true grip on this subject we suggest that you read the rest of this Betfair review and then also take a thorough look at the website we have recommended in the previous paragraph.
Of the 37 countries in Europe and the 200 countries in the world, Betfair will only accept new customers from a handful: UK, Ireland, Australia, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Netherlands.
Founded in 2000, Betfair was the brainchild of two Englishmen, Andrew Black and Edward Wray and it would be fair to say that it has changed the betting industry forever. Unlike traditional bookmakers’ sites, which cater solely for customers looking to place a bet, this is what is known as a betting exchange and caters for backers and layers alike.
In other words, customers can not only back selections to win, but also adopt the role of bookmaker and lay, or offers odds about, them to lose. The site charges commission, typically at a base rate of 5%, on net winnings for bringing backers and layers together, but every bet struck on the betting exchange is effectively a contract between one customer and another.
At any one time, Betfair offers over 10,000 betting opportunities on a wide variety of sports from all around the world. Popular spectator sports, such as football and horse racing, are high on the list, but tennis, cricket, greyhound racing and many other sports are all amply covered.
Football coverage extends to all the major European league and cup competitions and far beyond, to Peru, Qatar and Turkey among other exotic locations. Horse racing coverage similarly extends far beyond Great Britain and Ireland, to France, South Africa and the USA and even to Australia and New Zealand, with opportunities to bet directly into the local Tote pools.
It also offers casino, poker and arcade games, including slots, and has a dedicated financial betting section. If you’re interested in spread betting on global financial markets, it offers comprehensive help on how to get started, together with free charts, glossaries, spread betting guides and other resources to help you on your way.
Many bookmakers offer in-play betting on sporting events other than horse racing, but the nature of the Betfair site means that you can bet, in-play, on the result of a horse race at any time between the “off” and the race actually being won.
A green tick at the top of the racecard indicates when a race is going in-play or, in other words, a race is off, so be aware that any fluctuation in the odds after this occurs is due to events happening in real-time. If you don’t want to bet in-play, make sure that you cancel any unmatched bets before the off, or you may find yourself inadvertently backing a selection that has drifted dramatically in the betting because it has no chance in the race itself.
If you want to place multiple bets, such as doubles, trebles and accumulators, the easiest way to do so is to click on the ‘Multiples’ option from the menu down the left-hand side of the ‘Sports’, ‘Football’ or ‘Horse Racing’ pages.
The dedicated ‘Multiple Betting’ page displays coupons for all events on which multiple betting is available, so it’s simply a question of browsing through them to find the markets you want.
Multiple bets on horse racing are settled at what is known as Betfair Starting Price (SP), adjusted to take into account 5% commission on net winnings. You can see roughly what price you’ll get by looking at the ‘Projected SP’ column for your selected race. Ticking the box next to the odds on offer adds the selection to your betting slip.
The site has a familiar look and feel, but, by definition, it contains much more information than any of the traditional bookmakers’ sites. Finding the market you want is straightforward enough, from an intuitive menu at the top of the home page, but there’s also a useful search bar into which you can type the name of a selection, whether it’s a horse, a person or a team, or a competition, if you’re not sure where to look.
Clicking on ‘Horse Racing’ from the menu, for example, takes you straight to list of today’s cards, not just from Great Britain and Ireland, but also from around the world. Clicking on a race time, in turn, displays the runners in that race, together with their ‘back’ and ‘lay’ odds. Clicking on either set of odds adds the selection to your betting slip.
Once you’ve opened an account, the ‘My Account’ section provides a more detailed statement of your betting activity, if you need it. Here you can also deposit or withdraw funds, view your current and previous bets, update your personal details and view the loyalty points you’ve accumulated. You also have options to see the profit & loss you have generated over any time period of your choosing.
Conclusion of our Betfair Review
This site has been a game-changer for the betting industry. It was not the place for complete rookies to start betting, but since they have added the sportsbook section it is now all things to all punters. As for the betting exchange section, the very nature of their product means it will always be somewhat of a specialty industry professional site.
That is not to say you have to bet big there. Punters who like to wager just a couple of pounds at a time are also most welcome, and provided you can handle the complexities of the system then you can make yourself at home. If you are relatively new to sports betting we advise youstick with the sportsbook section at first. As your confidence increases you can then compliment that traditional sports betting experience with Betfair’s betting exchange. At that point you can start cherry picking the best odds and options from either the sportsbook or exchange.