Betfair is one of the first betting exchanges. Founded in 1999 and launched in 2000, Betfair offers a wide range of sports and markets and a huge selection of events, whether pre-match or in-play. Betfair is currently, and by far, the market leader in terms of number of users and volume – more than 950,000 users and more than 7 million transactions per day, despite being the betting exchange with the highest base commission rate.
Betfair’s core product is its Betting Exchange, enabling customers to bet against each other by either backing or laying outcomes at prices they determine. As all betting exchanges, this business model eliminates the financial risk borne by bookmakers, so odds are often better than those offered by traditional bookmakers. Betfair earns a commission on the net profits of any individual customer on each market, regardless of the outcome of the event.
Sports, markets and odds
Betfair covers a large number of sports (and other events), including American Football, Athletics, Australian Rules, Baseball, Basketball, Bowls, Boxing, Chess, Cricket, Cycling, Darts, Financial Bets, Football, Gaelic Games, Golf, Greyhound Racing, Handball, Horse Racing, Ice Hockey, Mixed Martial Arts, Motor Sport, Pool, Rowing, Rugby, Snooker, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, Winter Sports.
The number of leagues covered is just huge. Almost any sports competition will be available to bet and many of them even live.
Regarding markets, it’s hard not to find the one you want, at least on common sports. Just to mention, football usually includes match odds (home/draw/away), correct score, over under (from 0.5 to 8.5 or more), half time score, half time result, half time / full time, Asian handicap, clean sheet, teams total goals, team to win both halves, both teams to score, team to win to nil, double chance, hat trick, next goal, odd or even, penalty, sending off, total goals, etc.
Betting on Australian events is a bit more complicated than for the rest of sports. Given that Betfair holds an Australian licence, they request users to comply with a series of requirements before being able to bet on those markets. Money wagered on Australian markets must be held by Betfair in Australia and that’s why Betfair implemented the Australian wallet. In order the bet on Australian markets, you must complete an identity verification process.
As on any exchange, Betfair sets the events and markets and customers set the odds they want to back or lay.
When you want to place a bet and you find the odds you want (meaning other users are willing to accept the opposite bet at the price you want), you click on the desired odds, set the stake and if there is enough liquidity your bet will be matched. If there is not enough liquidity (there is not enough money to cover your winnings from opposite bettors) part of your bet can be matched and part can be left unmatched (your whole stake could be unmatched). Unmatched bets keep open until other bettors place new opposite bets that could match them. You can cancel your unmatched bets at any time, before they are matched. You can also chose to void them when the event starts, or leave them running during the event.
Given the number of users, Betfair is usually the betting exchange with the highest liquidity. However this depends on the sports, league and market, and other betting exchanges can be better on specific competitions, such as US sports.
One of the most useful Betfair features is the cash out button. It is well known that betting exchanges are usually used to trade on sports, meaning that users place bets (generally in play or before the event starts) when some specific odds are high because of temporary condition, i.e., an underdog’s goal at the start of the match makes favourite odds to increase. During the event the condition can change (a favourite’s goal) making odds to run in your favour so that you can bet the opposite outcome to lock a profit. This can be done automatically by Betfair’s cash out button, which determines and places an opposite bet for you. This is very useful on sports with rapidly changing scores (like tennis, basketball or volleyball).
This button constantly shows how much you can win (or loose) by placing opposite bets at the current moment of the match. It can be used to lock a profit but also to stop a loss.
Cash out only works when the market has enough liquidity to place the opposite bets. There’s no guarantee that you will be able to cash out.
Third party tools
Betfair has a lot of third party applications that provide different ways to place bets. You can find all authorized applications at apps.betfair.com
Application categories include mobile, trading, automated betting, data, commercial and arbitrage.
Fees and commissions
Betfair charges a commission on your net winnings on a market. If you have a net loss on a market you do not pay commission. Commission is calculated by multiplying your net winnings by the Market Base Rate. After this, Betfair can apply a discount depending on the user activity (Betfair points).
Market Base Rate
The Market Base Rate (MBR) is the maximum commission rate on a particular market. Their flat 5% MBR used until some months ago changed to a usually higher rate depending on the user as follows:
- For customers resident in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Gibraltar, Malta, and Denmark the default market base rate is 5%
- For customers resident in Albania, Armenia, Croatia, Monaco, Serbia & Montenegro, and Slovakia the default Market Base Rate is 7
- For customers resident in all other countries the default Market base Rate is 6.5%
Your discount rate is a percentage rate that reduces the commission you pay. You earn an increased rate the more you bet on Betfair by accumulating Betfair Points. Discount rate varies from 0% (less than 1000 Betfair points) to 60% (from 150,000 Betfair points), although some countries have different discounts.
There are also other charges that apply to certain users. Customers who place more than 1000 bets in any hour on the Exchange may also be charged Transaction Charges depending on the number of bets placed and the amount of commission they have already paid. Customers who make more than 20 data requests on the Exchange in any one second may also be charged a Data Request Charge depending on the number and type of data requests made (we won’t discuss this item on thus review). Customers who, in the long-term, generate very little commission compared to the amount they win may incur Premium Charges.
For customers placing bets through the Application Programmers Interface (API) on the Betting Exchange or for customers placing bets either through the API or on the website on Exchange Games, Betfair multiplies the excess of 1000 by 1p. For website customers on the Betting Exchange, Betfair multiplies this number by 2p. This charges are calculated daily for each hour where users placed more than 1000 bets.
The Premium Charge only applies in respect of bets placed on the Betfair Exchange. According to Betfair, less than 0.5% of their most successful customers will incur Premium Charges, and they are notified in advance.
Premium charges are not easy to explain or calculate. Each week Betfair will calculate your gross profits made, and your total charges generated over the lifetime of your account. You’ll only be considered for the Premium Charge if:
- your account is in profit
- the total charges generated since joining Betfair are less than 20% of your gross profits.
- you placed bets on more than 250 markets
Customers are exempted from the first £1,000 of the charge incurred.
Each week the customers who meet all the conditions set out above will be charged the lesser of:
- The difference between 20% of the previous week’s gross profits and the total charges generated during the week; and
- The difference between 20% of gross profits and the total charges generated during the lifetime of the account.
Betfair accepts most commonly used credit and debit cards (Visa, Visa Electron, Visa Delta, MasterCard, Maestro, and other).
They also accept a large number of electronic wallets and prepaid vouchers, including Neteller, Skrill, Paypal, ClickAndBuy, and Ukash
Finally, they accept bank transfers, Western Union and cheques.
These banking options can vary from country to country, as well as minimums and maximums, processing times and fees. In general you can find free methods to deposit and withdraw.
Betfair offers a help and learning sub-site where users can search for help, read answers to frequently asked questions and watch educational videos.
Customer support can be contacted by live chat between 9am and 2am (UK time), following and tweeting the Betfair Help Desk Twitter account (@BetfairHelpdesk), by phone (UK, Ireland, Australia and International) and by email (10 languages).
Bonus and free bets are sometimes offered by Betfair. Customers receive offers by email for certain events or leagues.
Betfair has a referral program that awards a 25 free bet for every friend you refer (terms and conditions apply).
Betfair is a betting exchange that allows to bet for (back) or against (lay) on a great number of sports, leagues, events and markets.
Betfair’s liquidity is usually high (compared to other betting exchanges) on major sports and leagues. This can result in slightly higher odds than other exchanges or bookmakers.
Betfair’s fees are usually a fixed percentage (5%, 6.5% or 7% depending on the country) based on each market winnings. These fees can be significant and make the bet less attractive than on another bookmaker. Users must always consider fees in their calculations. There are other fees such as transaction charges, data request charges, and premium charges but these does not affect the majority of bettors.
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