Founded in 2004, and owned by Triplebet Ltd., Matchbook took the bold decision to enter the world of online betting exchanges. Operating out of Alderney and licenced by the UK Gambling Commission (thus complying with the new regulations), Matchbook are able to offer their services to UK clients.
Historically a market dominated by Betfair (with Betdaq a clear second best), the success of betting exchanges depends on attracting enough customers to give to markets good liquidity, enabling odds to hold up and giving punters the opportunity to place decent stakes on their selections. In their eleventh year trading, have Matchbook managed to create solid markets and how does their product compare?
When visiting the Matchbook website, customers are directed immediately to the betting exchange – there is no landing page or any overly fancy graphics. The website incorporates a red, white and dark grey theme and the content covers the whole screen. On the left hand side of the page are the available sports, with submarkets available when the individual discipline is clicked. Matchbook have a casino which can be accessed above the list of all the sports, and offers blackjack, roulette, baccarat and a several progressive slot games.
The centre of the page details the popular upcoming matches, and lists the current odds available to back and lay. At the top of the page, there is a large graphic which informs customers about the new ‘MB Lounge’. Matchbook have put together a top team of betting analysts, whose expertise ranges from football, to tennis to golf and cricket. Respected brains such as Pete Nordsted now write for the website, providing previews to point punters in the right direction. The insight can be viewed by clicking on the lounge link at the top right of the homepage, or is automatically available when accessing a match for which there has been a write up.
When selecting a team/player, the bet slip appears on the top right hand side of the page. Customers are able to flick between US, decimal, HK, Malay, Indo and % odds by selecting the Display Settings on the top menu bar. They can also flick between AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, USD currencies.
For those who are new to betting exchanges, or some of the bet types such as Asian handicaps, there is an extensive learning centre under the ‘Help and Learning’ link, which is very good at explaining everything in layman’s terms.
Matchbook do have a mobile website which is automatically loaded when visiting Matchbook from a handheld device. The popular markets immediately appear in the centre of the screen and everything is intuitive and well designed.
There are only a small number of countries covered under the football markets. In total, there are odds for matches from 6 countries, with prices also available for Euro 2016 and the UEFA Champions League. The English fayre only extends as far as The Premier League, The Championship and The FA Cup. Across Europe, Matchbook only facilitate betting on the top one or two tiers from each country.
The basketball only extends as far as the NBA and ice hockey as far as the NHL. At their current size, Matchbook cannot be overly criticised for limiting their markets to the top leagues, as if the minor competitions and matches were available to be on, there would likely be very low liquidity, which wouldn’t do little to enhance the company’s reputation. By confining the stakes to the bigger leagues and competitions, they are ensuring that these events have solid liquidity and consequently competitive odds.
Asian handicaps appear to be the focus of Matchbook and its customers. Particularly with football, these markets seem to have the most liquidity.
As a betting exchange, the competitiveness of the markets is determined by the punters, not Matchbook. Typically, the more liquidity in an event, the closer to a 100% book the market will be.
Matchbook charge a small 1% commission on each bet that is placed. The commission rate is applied to the profit on winning bets and is applied to the lesser of the stake of potential profit/liability amount on a losing bet. As the backer’s stake and potential profit are always the same for lay bets, the commission on any bet struck at 1/12.00+1001.001.00-1.00 or bigger will always be 1% of the backer’s stake. The strategy adopted by Matchbook is a little different to Betfair and Betdaq, who typically charge a commission ranging 2.5-5% on the profit from a bet, with no deductions or potential deductions on the stake.
Around two hours before the kick-off of English Premier League matched, the 1X2 markets were working to 100.5-101% total book percentages, which is in line with the other exchanges. Basketball margins were a little higher, at around 101.5-102.5% but the odds for NHL ice hockey games were very close to perfect books, typically working to 100.5%.
Matchbook may have less liquidity than the big two firms, but their markets are very competitive in terms of total book percentages, and they take smaller commissions that Betfair and Betdaq, albeit they take some commission from the stake.
New customers are eligible for a risk free £25 bet when signing up for an account at Matchbook. If the first bet loses, then the stake will be refunded up to £25 and will be credited as bonus funds. The first bet must be staked at odds of 3/22.50+1501.501.50-0.67 or less for back bets and 67/1001.67-1490.67-1.490.67 or bigger for lay bets. The bonus is only available for customers from the following countries: Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The bonus funds can only be withdrawn after they have been turned over 3 times on the exchange.
Matchbook also offer periodic concessions and bonuses such as 0% commission on certain events and regularly run Twitter competitions – they have quite an active social media presence.
There are two telephone numbers for customers to contact Matchbook staff – an Irish number (+353 21 242 8626) and a UK one (+44 203 642 6867). The company can also be reached by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and by post – Triplebet Ltd, Inchalla, Le Val, Alderney, GY9 3UL.
Customers can fund their account through a mix of e-wallets, prepaid card and, debit/credit cards. Although Matchbook don’t have the most extensive number of payment types, all of the major providers are covered. Strangely, there is no option for customers to add to their Matchbook balance with a bank transfer.
With the addition of an expert team of betting analysts, Matchbook appear on the up. Their site is well designed and their services appear aimed at the UK and Irish market, so they really seem to want to take on the exchange ‘big boys’. At present, the variety of sports on offer is too limited, and the depth of those available definitely requires improvement. However, for punters who like to play Asian handicap markets for some of the top football leagues, the total book percentages are very competitive and the margins are comparatively lower. Matchbook could improve by streaming live events and offering more payment types, but their business model is definitely moving in the right direction and they are recommended as a solid alternative for top league football, ice hockey and basketball punters.