Betfair are truly a one stop shop for all things to do with online bookmaking and gaming. They not only have the worlds biggest sports exchange but also a fixed odds sportsbook with top odds and full casino and gaming options; Vegas, bingo, poker, slots, you name it they do it.
Known for leading the way and creating waves in the industry, Betfair were the first to invent cash out and partial cash out and then the first to let you cash out on live horse racing. They were also one of the first to provide streaming and the first to offer a wider range of banking options. Betfair are not just one of the biggest online betting sites, they have actually shaped what it means to be a modern day online bookie.
The brand is now merged with Paddy Power giving it a wider resource base, such as the ability to deposit cash in their shops, and they have a full stock of betting apps to explore too.
Major Markets & Odds
The site stands out for football and horse racing, but it is honestly one of the best stocked sites for all sports and events, with around 35 different sports to bet on and never missing a beat with competitions or events of any note. There are also many markets you will find with them that are fairly rare with other UK-focused bookies, such as surfing and chess, and financials in the exchange.
Depth varies from sport to sport, but football is available from more than 40 different countries including youth leagues for some regions, and horse racing is covered in France, Australia, South Africa, etc. However, best odds are only guaranteed on UK and Irish races.
Odds are superb, which is logically one of the biggest reasons you might choose to bet with them. They constantly look at exchange markets (which are generally better value) and improve their fixed odds based on this. This way you know you are always getting a decent price, and if you are someone who doesn’t have the time to shop around for the best odds all of the time that can be a great comfort.
What’s more, Betfair love their odds boosts. There are loads of them every day and the variety within them is also nice to see, with plenty of combi’s. There are other promotions too although this is not their forte, including best odds on lots of sports in the exchange, and a reward points scheme on racing that transfers to real life spending at racecourses – again with the innovation.
Nuts & Bolts of the Website
Betfair is a website for getting things done rather than a site that tries to dazzle and impress with flashy graphics and cool, but ultimately useless, technological trickery. It’s probably not the best place to start as a new bettor, but if you have been around the block a few times it’s absolute dynamite.
There are a lot of menu’s and sub menu’s, with drop down collapsible lists and filtering options galore. This is actually a huge help once you get to know the site but on first meeting it could be a bit of an overload. It’s especially useful for busy in-play fixtures where there are lots of bet types to search through.
The sportsbook and the exchange are kept separate but both use similar web design features to help you get from one place to another and highlight anything that might be of interest, and both work quickly.
The site does its best to help the customer out as well, with plenty of symbols to signify cash out, live streaming, which pre-event markets will go in-play, that sort of thing. It all helps in decision making where other bookies can leave the punter guessing, and saves you time by giving you as much info as possible upfront.
Features and Innovation
The guys at Betfair have always been innovators and industry drivers, they rocked the boat from the moment they opened for business with their exchange which you can read about a little later.
They are also responsible for some of the key betting features that we have started to take for granted. Cash out and partial cash out are probably the best examples of this, as it was such a popular idea at the time that everyone else followed suit and now it’s become an expectation rather than a positive extra feature.
Here are some other features you can expect to find at Betfair:
- Live streaming on many sports
- Bet builder
- #OOT (odds on that) request a bet service
- Football jackpots/syndicates
- Live betting
- Multiple apps for their various betting products
- Betfair Rewards – choose your own bonus perks
- Horse finder – racing betting aid
- Fast markets when live betting
- Beat the Drop sports knowledge test
That’s a great mix of betting features and extra’s on the side to keep you entertained and challenged at the same time as potentially winning you some money.
In an industry that seems sewn up, how would you launch a new bookmaker that it was impossible to ignore?
Betfair turned betting upside down when they first launched, because not only was the idea of a betting exchange something that nobody else was doing at the time, but they launched with the catch phrase “Death to the bookmaker” and even held a mock funeral where they laid to rest their competition.
This didn’t make them many friends in the industry but it certainly got them a lot of press and even more customers!
Exchange betting cuts out the middle man so that the bettor gets a higher return. You are betting against another punter rather than a bookie, so margins don’t need to be built in, the exchange just takes a small commission on winnings. Not only is it potentially more profitable, but it gives the punter more control as they can offer to lay or back anything they like at any price that suits them. This offer will need to be matched by someone else for the bet to stand though, so liquidity is key.
Luckily, Betfair are by far the biggest and best betting exchange in the industry, with a huge majority of the market share, so as long as your offer isn’t ridiculous the chances are it will be matched.
There are more than 30 different sports on the exchange plus specials and financials, and the obvious sports are incredibly busy often matching hundreds of thousands of pounds on a single event. You can also find promotions specific to the exchange at Betfair, so if pari-mutuel betting is you thing then Betfair is the obvious front runner for your business.
When Betfair was founded it originally only offered a betting exchange; peer-to-peer betting that charged a small commission for bringing punters on opposite sides of a bet together. By cutting out the middle man – the bookie – the odds were, and still are, generally much higher, especially on outsiders.
They were established in the early days of online betting, back at the turn of the millennium in 2000 and offered their first exchange market for the Epsom Oaks & Derby. Early adopters quickly realised the convenience and added value of using an online exchange and just four years later the company revenues were over £50M.
Today Betfair offer the biggest sports betting exchange in the world, processing more transactions than every single European stock exchange put together.
Betfair launched their fixed-odds sportsbook in 2013 and since then have been able to offer a much wider range of betting opportunities. As well as the sportsbook providing more markets and promotions it also allows sensible customers to offset their wagers between it and the exchange.
In 2016 Betfair merged with Paddy Power to create one of the worlds biggest betting companies. The two brands are still separate entities but can enjoy the benefits of being linked. For example you can now deposit into your online Betfair account through Paddy Power shops using card or cash.
Today the brand is one of the biggest online companies to originate from these shores. They process one and a quarter billion bets annually worth over £50bn in total value.
The company is a roaring success and has won numerous awards for innovation and with vast finances and ring-fenced funds they are about as safe and secure as any company out there, let alone any other bookmaker. They have offices in numerous locations around the world but the Sportsbook itself is licensed and regulated in Malta.
Having a gigantic website with a plethora of betting products means that Betfair would struggle to cram it all into a single app and have that app work effectively.
A good job then that there are 7 to download if you want them. This allows you to tailor the products that take up space on your device, which is actually really useful if you are a heavy user.
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We are most interested in the sports and exchange apps, but the others are interesting too. The Exchange Games app for example allows you to bet on the outcome of casino games without having to play them yourself, so you can bet on any hand not just the one you have got. The Casino app contains the full desktop casino remodelled for mobile use with access to hundreds and hundreds of slots, table games, etc.
Both the app for the exchange and sportsbook mimic the desktop versions, but with changes made to optimise the functionality on a smaller screen that are mostly successful. I say mostly because Betfair still have an awful lot of content to fit into these apps, so the journey from the homepage to your bet can feel a little arduous if you are doing it manually rather than using a quick link.
This is a small price to pay though for the amount of betting markets and bet types you get access to, not to mention the features discussed earlier.
Responsiveness is very good within the interface itself, and it’s satisfying watching your selections float up to the betslip as you tap on them, but the app can be slow to load between pages. Again, this is to do with the amount of work going on in the background – personally, I’m happy to wait an extra few seconds for the quality of the goods, but impatient bettors might find it a struggle.
There’s a well placed link to cash out always available from any page which is super useful when seconds count, and you can still live stream and manage your account from the app too, so it’s a fully functioning product.
Betfair have done a good job with their apps overall, they could just do with a little more power to quicken them up.