Innovation is a tricky business. Sometimes, a company comes up with an idea that is so far outside the norm that the public either doesn’t get it or is skeptical of adopting it. In the online gambling industry, we have seen many innovative ideas over the last 20 years, but from the sports betting perspective, the most obvious is the betting exchange developed by Betfair. We are going to review the site on this page, looking not only at the way it tried to disrupt the sports betting world but also how it had to conform to stay afloat.
Betfair launched in 2000, back in the early days of the online gambling market. Based in the UK, the founders Andrew Black and Edward Wray didn’t exactly come from a gambling background to start this company. This in itself is likely why they ended up coming up with the idea for the betting exchange, which we will discuss in more detail.
Betfair is currently licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority, which means its site and games are not accessible by certain countries.
Betfair went public on the London Stock Exchange in 2010, raising the capital to continue its global expansion. In 2014, in the wake of the events of 2006 and 2011 in the United States, Betfair was granted a license to accept players from the state of New Jersey, putting the company in an excellent position to expand its U.S. presence as more states change their laws. The company also announced a merger with Paddy Power, with the newly formed company becoming one of the largest in the UK market.
When the founders started this company, they had no intention of offering anything more than a betting exchange. While they have relented over the years, we are still going to focus on this part of the site first. For those of you who aren’t familiar with a betting exchange, you can think of it as the same concept as a stock exchange but with sports bets as the commodities. The theory behind the betting exchange was that players who had their own ideas about games and sports wanted to bet different odds than what the traditional sportsbook was offering. In an exchange, a bettor might find multiple sets of odds on the same game, as the odds are being set by other individual bettors. This took the line maker out of the equation, setting up peer-to-peer bets. That still exists today, and when you head to the Betfair site, you can look for odds in the exchange on the game you want to bet on. Betfair charges a fee to facilitate the bets, but they aren’t taking any risk on the wager itself.
The one drawback of this system is that many bets go untaken, leaving those posting the odds without any action on the games. As a result, Betfair was leaving a significant amount of revenue on the table. Betfair looked at many ways to get around this issue, trying desperately to get bettors to understand the method. However, outside of the UK, the company didn’t get a lot of traction for its exchange idea, so it was left with no other choice but to add a traditional sportsbook as well. Today, when you go to the Betfair sports section, you can see the odds the site has posted, but before you place a wager, you can compare that with any bets that are available on the exchange. While this may sound confusing, we actually like the setup, and the design of the betting interface is excellent. When we were testing bets, it didn’t feel cumbersome at all, and we were able to find the sports and bets we wanted to make with ease.
The company didn’t stop at adding a traditional sportsbook to its platform. Recognizing it needed additional revenue streams, Betfair launched a full casino product to complement the sportsbook. The backbone of the casino offering is Playtech’s award-winning software. This means that players will get to play some of the most popular online slots and table games on the market today. Not content with one provider, Betfair has also added content from heavyweights like IGT, SG Interactive, and Ash Gaming. Overall, casino players are going to love what they find when they get to Betfair’s offering.
The betting exchange is really a perfect product for the mobile delivery method. With players posting bets all the time leading up to a game’s start, as well as during the match itself, this was really the first type of in-game betting available. Being able to access the site form a mobile device was paramount to being able to find these bets, especially if you were sitting in a stadium watching a game live.
The Betfair gaming platform is available in multiple formats for mobile users. In certain markets, you can download the Betfair app to your iOS or Android devices. Here, you can store your login credentials and have quick access to your account and all the available bets, along with many of the casino games. These days, apps are taking over our lives, and where Apple and Google will allow, gambling apps are bursting with popularity.
For those of you who don’t want to waste the memory space or aren’t allowed to use the native app, you can still access your Betfair account from the browser on your phone or tablet. We tested this method and found that the site performed very well. The pages have been converted to fit mobile screens, and we had no trouble navigating to the bets we wanted to make. Overall, the mobile options for Betfair users are excellent.
With multiple products (exchange, sportsbook, casino, Live Casino, poker), the company has decided to split up its bonuses across the different games. We like this concept, as the way that each type of game works means that bonuses are earned in very different ways. We are going to focus on the sportsbook bonus for the purposes of this review, but you can see all the offers from Betfair by heading to the website.
Sports Welcome Bonus
The Welcome Bonus at any site is designed to attract players and convert them to being depositors. Some sites take the approach of offering a massive amount of bonus dollars up front, but most savvy players know that these deals are too good to be true and that you aren’t ever going to be able to earn the full amount of the bonus.
Sports betting bonuses are slightly different, in that the rollover for bets is much lower. Where you can play a slot machine for hours and rack up huge amounts of bets, you are typically making larger bets but less of them in a sportsbook. This is why we love what Betfair is offering its new players. The Welcome Bonus for sports bettors is simple. For every 5 bets of a minimum of $10 that you make, you receive a free $20 wager. This can be repeated 5 times, meaning you could get $100 in free bets for making $250 in total wagers. What we like the most about this offer is that it doesn’t require a massive upfront deposit, and it is something that even small-stakes gamblers can achieve.
Considering the site is licensed by Malta and the UK and is a publicly traded company, you should feel very safe making a deposit with Betfair. To that end, the payment options also reflect a highly regulated site, giving you multiple e-wallet solutions as well as the traditional credit and debit cards.
The betting exchange is still confusing to many players even after almost two decades, so the Betfair Customer Support department has to be even better than most. Today, there are several ways for you to contact the site, including via their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Using social media for first line support is very popular outside the gaming industry, so it is great to see Betfair embrace this new technology. Traditionalists can still contact the site by phone, email or Live Chat.
We have been in this business for a long time, so we have spent time with the betting exchange model for many years. We think that those of you who haven’t tried this peer-to-peer betting system should give it a try, and if you aren’t thrilled with it, you will still find a standard sportsbook, casino, and poker to entertain you. Betfair is highly recommended to our readers.