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Owner: Crown Resorts
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Launched around the turn of the millennium in the United Kingdom, Betfair is the world’s premier online betting exchange.
The company gained a license from the Tasmanian government in 2003 and remains the only wagering business of its kind in Australia.
Although it was bought out by Crown Resorts in 2014, Betfair continues to offer a point of difference to online bookmakers, rails bookies and totalisators.
At first glance, Betfair.com.au looks much like any other online wagering service. Upon closer inspection, however, you will find some significant differences.
Whereas Sportsbet and all the other Australian betting brands are bookmakers, Betfair is a peer-to-peer betting exchange that allows punters to gamble against one another directly. This creates a highly dynamic marketplace that thrives on participation, much like Airtasker, EZTV, Uber, or any other P2P service.
The wagering exchange system also revives a traditional form of racing and sports gambling that is not often found at standard betting sites. Taking on other punters means you can opt for either side of a bet, so you may lay odds against a runner (i.e. bet it will lose) rather than backing it to win.
Whereas bookies make their nut by collecting on losing bets, Betfair takes a commission on each customer’s net winnings. This consists of a base rate on Australian horse racing (6%-8%) and can include turnover charges and other additional fees.
Even so, the lower margins and higher volatility of the exchange platform means punters can enjoy better value on a huge range of markets. This is especially the case since Betfair Australia joined the Global Exchange, which connects gamblers from all over the world in a single, universal betting space.
If there is a horse race that someone fancies a flutter on, there is a market for it at Betfair. This is particularly true with Australian racing, for which there is almost constant action seven days a week.
Punters who like to watch the markets and take advantage of late shifts will love how the betting exchange behaves in the lead-up to the jump. This is when Betfair’s racing odds are at their most volatile, which is great news for canny gamblers who have a keen eye for value.
Probably the biggest plus of using an exchange is the bang for buck on offer in antepost betting. Bookies can be conservative with their futures markets, but Betfair is known to offer wonderful value to punters who aren’t afraid to take the early odds.
Because it is now a one-stop global exchange, Betfair Australia customers can enjoy top-shelf antepost prices on major events all year round. Popular racing futures include the Melbourne Cup, the Cox Plate and the Golden Slipper; the Grand National and the Cheltenham Festival races in the UK; the Breeders Cup and Triple Crown meets in the USA; and L’Arc de Triomphe in France.
Thoroughbred racing is but a fraction of what Betfair.com.au has to offer. There are wide-ranging markets for all manner of sports and games, including niche pursuits that might not be available at some Australian bookie sites.
As with antepost betting on horse racing, this is the place to go if you want top dollar on futures options and outright bets. Betfair also has a reputation for superior value on certain exotic markets – like correct score wagers on soccer matches, for instance.
Daily sports and novelty betting categories at Betfair include:
The Betfair Exchange mobile betting site makes it dead simple to back a horse or lay the odds whenever you are on the move. The homepage features a sharp, clean design that is easy to navigate, with upcoming races front and centre. The top menu bar shows the hottest racing and sports categories, while quick links to the virtual betting slip and the online cashier take all the hassle out of managing your punting activities.
The mobile browser site is so convenient and well designed that there is no need to install a market application. Nevertheless, iPhone and iPad users who prefer one-touch homescreen access will find the Betfair mobile betting app available for free download via iTunes. Licensing restrictions mean Australian gambling products can be hard to find at the Google Play store, but punters on Android smartphones and tablets may fashion their own web app in an instant by selecting ‘Add to Homescreen’ from Chrome’s in-browser settings.
Betfair accepts Australian dollars and supports a number of tried-and-true online banking methods. Deposits made with credit cards, debit cards and POLi instant banking are processed immediately, while other methods can take between one and five business days to clear.
* Betfair customers who have SMS Security activated for NAB internet banking may have deposits credited within an hour.
Betfair is the only licensed and legal online betting exchange operating in Australia. Having held a gambling license with the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission since 2003, the company relocated its operations to the jurisdiction of the Northern Territory Racing Commission in 2016. The NT is where an overwhelming majority of Australian bookmakers are licensed, including industry leaders such as Sportsbet, Ladbrokes and Bet365.
Some punters are instantly turned off by the idea of paying commissions to a betting operator. But think of it this way: the more you win, the more Betfair wins. For while online bookmakers have made a nasty habit of cutting off successful gamblers, an open betting exchange has absolutely nothing to gain from banning consistent winners.
There are downsides to the Betfair model. Because it relies on peer-to-peer interaction, a market can only exist if there is someone willing to match another punter’s stake. That means the selection can be a tad limited on occasion, although at other times the range of active markets is as diverse and well-patronised as anything on the web. A $5 minimum stake is quite high compared to bookie rates, while the exchange itself can take a moment to get the hang of if you are unfamiliar with such systems. Those hunting big sign-up bonuses and weekly specials should look elsewhere.
Where Betfair shines is in futures markets and late money. If you want the best price for getting your tips in early, look no further. Ditto if you want to find last-minute value just before the jump. Combined with market margins that consistently beat the 4.9% bookmaker average (even with commissions included), this is a site that suits the switched-on punter searching for the best possible return on an investment.