Note: We have a separate review for Betfair Exchange. Check it out here.
Important notice: Betfair is no longer accepting players from Germany or Spain.
Betfair Bookmaker Review
In 2011, the pioneers of the first betting exchange, Betfair, decided to diversify their operations, dipping their toe into the fixed odds Bookmaker market. Taking on the role of a traditional bookmaker to complement their exchange platform appeared like a natural progression to help bolster profits, but how does their fixed odds offering match up against the competition?
The Bookmaker section has slotted in almost seamlessly into the main interface of the Betfair website. It is extremely easy to flick between the exchange and bookie, with two tabs in the top left corner offering the option for customers to pit their wits against the house or each other. All of the funds are kept within one account, so you are able to flick between the exchange and the bookie without having to constantly transfer funds.
The horse racing markets are extremely well presented in a tabulated format. Simply click on the meeting and the odds are offered in a grid format, which makes perusing through the different races an easy process.
As you would expect with Betfair, the coverage of sports is solid. There are 27 different sports with a range of different markets and events under each discipline. The football markets extend as far as the Georgian Division 1, and there are also markets on the fringe sports of rowing and Gaelic Games.
Betfair do not give a massive amount away with their odds. For example, taking the Twenty20 World Cup game between England & Sri Lanka, the odds for the teams were 7/52.40+1401.401.40-0.71 and 8/151.53-1880.53-1.880.53 respectively. This adds up to a 106.9% book, which was bested by 10 other big firms, who were offering odds of 6/42.50+1501.501.50-0.67 and 8/151.53-1880.53-1.880.53, a 105.2% book. This basically means that Betfair are taking a bigger profit out of the match than their competitors, and are offering poorer returns in the process (more on this in the overround article).
Whilst they do not have the worst odds for all sports, rarely will the Betfair bookie offer standout prices. The better odds can be found on the exchanges, and it appears the marketing teams try to attract custom through concessions and cashback offers, as opposed to attractive odds.
The customer service would definitely have to be marked as an area for improvement. The online chat function is not immediately identifiable on the home page, and when the pop-up is found, it turns out that the service is only manned from 10am-10pm GMT. Consequently, response times can be lengthy and there are often numerous customers ahead in the queue to speak to a representative, especially in the morning. Average waiting times at 10-11am are around 5-10 minutes, which can be frustrating.
The settling period for bets with Betfair can be variable. Typically, the exchange side of the site settles almost instantly, but on occasion, the bookie side of the business can take considerable time to return funds to the account. For example, twelve hours after an MMA bet was struck, despite it being marked as successful, the balance remained unaltered. It required a conversation with customer services, who prompted the traders to settle the bet before the account was squared up. Not ideal.
Alluring features of the Betfair Bookmaker are the Cash Out option, the Best Odds Guaranteed on UK & Irish racing and the football Cashback offers.
The Cash Out feature emanates from the exchange side of affairs, where customers have long had the ability to strike a bet and then lay it off when the odds were in their favour, guaranteeing a profit regardless of the outcome of an event. The Cash Out button, available on many sports, makes this whole process more straightforward for beginners and novices alike, enabling them to close out their bet with one click – no mental calculations required. For example, if you back Arsenal at home to Everton, at Evens and they score within the first ten minutes of the match, they are then likely to be trading at 1/31.33-3000.33-3.000.33. This means the Cash Out button is likely to offer you profit for closing your bet there and then. The Cash Out value will vary depending on the odds of the match. For example, if the team you backed is 3-0 up at half-time, then the Cash Out is likely to be very close to your initial projected profit. This feature is a USP of the Betfair Bookmaker.
Betfair also offer Best Odds Guaranteed on horse racing – a concession that presented to customers by the majority of the major online bookmakers. If a customer takes an early price on a horse and it ends up winning at bigger odds, then the bet is paid out at the larger price. Best Odds Guaranteed can have a significant effect on long-term profit and it is always worth using a firm who offer it. For example, if you backed two horses in $10 double at early prices of 3/14.00+3003.003.00-0.33 each, without BOG, and they both drifted to 4/15.00+4004.004.00-0.25, you would receive a $160 return. However, with BOG, the payout would be $250 – over 56% more.
In an attempt to provide an innovative new angle on promotions and bonuses, Betfair have produced an interactive cashback option for live football matches. Under the Cashback Extra promotion, the customer is able to pick the circumstances in which they will receive a refund on the first/last/anytime scorer markets.
The Betfair app is available on iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, and other mobile devices. With a large percentage of Betfair’s business conducted through ‘live betting’ (that is in running betting during the course of an event), it is important that they developed an advanced and user-friendly app.
Betfair are big into technology, and as such, have a whole site dedicated to the mobile applications. There are endless different downloads for the devices, which can suit a customer’s individual needs. The original iPhone Bookmaker app is well presented, and offers the customers most of the features available on the desktop website.
On Android, everything works smoothly, with the app fast, and with regular updates and tweaks made by the Betfair team, it is ever improving.
The iPad version of Betfair Bookmaker is very intuitive and well designed. It is also offered as a separate application to the exchange section of the site, which removes any potential confusion. On the left hand side of the screen is the option to look at the different sports, go to the bet slip, check out the promotions, or use the cash out feature. Betfair manage to promote their original features well on the iPad, and everything is very clear.
Betfair definitely did the right thing in opening a bookie. With such a large database of customers, it would always be a success.
The main drawbacks are that the odds they offer are not fantastic, and the customer service is not as good as some other bookmakers. However, an extensive list of promotions, Best Odds Guaranteed and a Cash Out feature are real positives that are sure to keep customers happy.
Overall, the Betfair Bookmaker ranks as a good fixed odds bookmaking portal, and one that is recommended.