Reviewing the Sports Betting Experience at Betfair

Betfair is not your typical online bookmaker. Founded in 2000 and launched online in June that year, the focus of the company has at many points been on its betting exchange platform allowing punters to wager against one another, which would soon become the world’s largest online betting exchange. Despite this, its sportsbook is still prominent in the sports betting world. There’s a lot to cover in order to give this bookie a fair and justified review, so as is custom, we’ve split the review into different sections. This review will cover all the features of the online platform in general, but there are also separate reviews of the welcome bonus, mobile app and the in-play betting system. While I’ll touch on the betting exchange, this review will focus on the sportsbook.

Our Rating of Betfair
  • Betting Options:around 10,000
  • Sports Markets:around 30
  • Odds Level:up to 95.2%
  • Licensed By:UK Gambling Commission
Our Overall Rating76/100Good Operator •

Betfair has had success after success and it now boasts over 4 million regular customers. Although it has been no stranger to controversy, most of this has been somewhat ill-founded and the bookmaker says any animosity from rival bookies has been due to their own commercial interests, rather than concern for the integrity of sports betting.

The Betting Options7

The market coverage is not as big as many of the other sports betting sites covered here. It’s certainly not small, with almost 30 sports plus other markets included, but it does rank in the lower levels. The fixture coverage within the sports provided is of a good level, although the betting options are also on the smaller side.

Adequate Sports Markets

With just under 30 sports available to bet on using the sportsbook, the market coverage is a little below average. But the bookmaker does make up for this well with the depth of coverage for each sport. Football goes down to youth leagues in European football, while there are many smaller leagues available, such as Jamaican leagues. Again though, the total number of leagues or tournaments for most sports is still significantly behind the leaders William Hill and Bet365. Sports markets can be organised by the day’s events or by the league or tournament they fall under.

The Most Popular Markets at Betfair
Football (98) Horse racing (46) Tennis (34) Cricket (19) Golf (14)
Champions League Cheltenham US Open Ashes US Masters
Club Friendlies Melbourne Cup Wimbledon Asia Cup Open Championship
Premier League Dubai Classic Australian Open ICC World Cup Ryder Cup
Bundesliga Grand National ITF Moscow Natwest Twenty20 Perth International
Championship Kentucky Derby Brazil Open ICC Twenty20 US PGA
Ligue 1 Prix de l’arc de Triomphe Cherbourg Challenge County Championship Honda LPGA

The popular bet types are present and correct here. Betting options can be sorted by their type, such as goals, score and points markets. The range of cash out markets is also fairly large and bet types that are available for cash out are signalled by a yellow square symbol. Like with most operators, the amount of betting options available is dependent on an event, with smaller fixtures granted less betting options. One downside of the betting selections is that the handicap markets aren’t particularly sophisticated, even for bigger fixtures, which is a distinct disadvantage of this bookie for those big on these types of bets.

One cool feature is the betting options displayed in the day’s enhanced price specials section on the right hand side of the front page. Many bookies have a price boost or enhanced odds section, but Betfair has taken this a step further, with the bets also often containing many interesting and unique bet types, such as multiple goal scorer bets. The downside is the selections are of the bookie’s choosing, but these are another great addition to Betfair’s betting options roster and will surely pique the interest of many punters.

Another thing I really like about Betfair is the quick-bet markets available for popular fixtures. These markets give a selection of possible events to occur within a very short time frame. So with football for example, betting options include will there be a corner, will a card be shown or will a penalty be awarded? These sort of markets are available elsewhere, but not in the quick-fire manner they are here, where they can be bet on to win in such a short time frame. This is a really great feature that plays to the popularity of in-play betting and can help generate super-fast returns for punters. The markets and betting option selections are not the widest here, but the high number of unique options, along with the quick-fire and enhanced odds specials, make Betfair stand out from the crowd in this area.

In-Play Betting & Live Streams

Both the functionality and the aesthetics of the in-play system are great. On the whole, the in-play platform and live-streaming capabilities are strong. The cash out function covers a good range of markets, while there are a large number of live-streamed events each day. You can read our full review of live betting at Betfair.

Multiple and System Betting

The accumulator system is especially strong here. Accumulators can go up to a huge 25 individual selections, which is the highest of all our reviewed bookies. There’s also the fantastic ‘edge’ accumulator offer. This function gives refunds on all accumulators that lose by just one leg. It offers slightly lower odds than if not using the function but it can be applied to accumulators of any number of selections and is a great option for those who would like a little insurance in their bets. Once selections are added to the bet slip, the option to use the edge function will appear next to the multiple bet option. Click on the box to see what odds you’re offered and if they sound good, then simply click the use edge box in the bet slip. This is a much superior option to the similar accumulator insurance promotions offered by many bookmakers.

Other forms of system betting are not so strong however. There’s the standard types such as heinz, yankee and goliath for up to 8 selections. Outside of accumulators however, combining selections in doubles or as folds only goes up to 12 selections, which is not as high as at other operators. It’s a shame that more than 12 selections cannot be used in this way. With the best accumulator capabilities, a better system function in this area could make Betfair the market leader when it comes to multiple betting options. Overall then, the offering is strong, but fairly inconsistent.

Bet & Win Limits

As is the norm for online sportsbooks, the maximum win depends on which sport is being bet on. The highest win limits, those for football and horse racing, are pretty big here at £1,000,000 within a 24hour period, although these amounts fall in the middle of the operators reviewed. The maximum win for tennis is a little lower than the average, at £100,000. The lowest bet stake is 10p, which is among the highest amount for a minimum stake. Those cautious gamblers who want to play with super low stakes could do better to check the betting limits at William Hill then, although at 10p, I’m sure the minimum stake here is low enough for almost anyone.

Solid Odds Levels7

Odds Levels for the Largest Sports Markets
  • .
  • Tennis91.7 - 95.2%
  • Football91.7 - 94.4%
  • Basketball91.3 - 92.6%
  • Ice Hockey87.8 - 92.2%
  • Darts89.8 - 92.1%
  • Rugby Union88.9 - 91.8%
  • Boxing90.3 - 91.6%
  • Horse racing86.9 - 90.6%
  • Greyhounds76.1 - 77.9%
  • ..
  • .....
  • Return to Player(%)

The table above gives a rundown of the pre-match odds levels of popular markets with the bookmaker. Other than for football and tennis, the pre-match odds here are not the most competitive. While not necessarily bad, you will almost certainly get a better price on almost any sport at another sports betting site. This is perhaps not so surprising, as Betfair places great emphasis on the quality of the odds provided on its betting exchange. It’s true that better odds can typically be found on the exchange, though perhaps not as high as the 20% difference the bookmaker claims. However, this difference can be immediately offset by the commission levels Betfair charges to punters using the exchange platform. These fees were made even higher with the introduction of premium charges, which were widely regarded as harsh terms.

Slick Online Platform8

The Betfair platform is split between the sportsbook and exchange areas. To be honest, both are well designed, clearly laid out and easy on the eye. Apart from the most popular markets, sports markets are hidden in a drop down menu, which is a nice change from being alphabetically listed down an entire side of the page. A quick links and specials box takes up the left side on the home page, with direct links to the events and bets contained in each of these sections. A highlights box comprises the centre of the page, which can be toggled between the popular sports markets and will display current in-play and the upcoming fixtures. The colour scheme is gold and silver, which sounds a little strange, but I think it works really well to complete an attractive online platform. The odds of each betting option are displayed in a striking blue box, making them extremely clear.

Things are of course much busier in the exchange area, but with so much data contained here, that can’t be helped. The betting exchange can be reached via the menu that runs across the top of the sportsbook, which also contains links to all the other features of the site, such as the casino or the poker room. This area is ordered much the same way, with the highlights section in the centre present, but available leagues and tournaments listed below also. Since this is exchange betting, each outcome is coloured blue or pink for clarity.

The in-play arena sticks to much the same design, which is great, since it really is a winning formula. Once into the in-play betting section for a specific event, the in-play infographic appears on the left hand side, while all bets are through the centre. The infographic is perhaps not as sophisticated as some other operators, with the stats and action often a little basic. But the in-play arena is totally functional; bets can be ordered by type, there’s a quick link to the cash out section and bet types can be minimised to keep things nice and tidy. Overall the platform here is simple, but its beauty lies in its simplicity. A solid 8/10 is well earned here.

How to Place a Bet

Thanks to the handy use of a great bet slip, placing bets with this betting site is easy. Like with almost all online sportsbooks, it’s ultimately a 3 step process and is pretty much standard across the operators. Once you’re in the right section for the selections, it’s time to get started. Once you know your selections, add them to the bet slip by clicking on the odds next to the bet option of choice. The odds of chosen bets will turn a darker blue once they have been added, but in all honesty this is barely noticeable. Although this doesn’t matter, since once the selections have been clicked, the bet slip will appear with the bets automatically added. The next step is to input the stake of the bet next to the relevant bet in the bet slip. Multiple betting options appear at the bottom of the slip. Simply type the stake of the bet into the box and then hit place bets.

Important Information about the Company

There are still a number of areas that need addressing to give a complete and comprehensive assessment of Betfair’s pedigree in the sports betting world. Licensing and customer service aren’t perhaps the first things you think of when choosing a bookmaker to play with, but nevertheless, they are important to a sportsbook’s performance.

A Glance Over the Business

Betfair was founded in 2000 in the UK. While its betting exchange is licensed offshore in Gibraltar, the company’s headquarters remain in London, where the sportsbook is licensed to UK customers by the Gambling Commission. Due in large part to the success of its exchange platform, the bookmaker claims to have over 4 million regular customers. Its betting exchange is now the largest online exchange around. Betfair has grown and grown since its inception and things aren’t looking like slowing down anytime soon. In February 2016, the merger between fellow bookmaker Paddy Power was completed, to see a new entity, Paddy Power Betfair, formed. The headquarters are located in Dublin, Ireland.

All About the Betfair Business
Company Support Security Player Protection
Name:Betfair Group plc Live Chat:24/7 Encryption:Hydrant ID, 3DES Deposit Limits:adjustable
Head Office:Waterfront, Chancellors Road, London, W6 9HP Phone:00 44 20 3059 8888 Licence:000-039561-R-319411-002 Betting Limits:loss limits available
CEO:Breon Corcoran Email:web link Testing Agency:n/a Self Exclusion:available
Employees:around 2000 Fax:n/a Audit Organisation:Independent Betting Adjudication Agency (IBAS) Child Protection:guaranteed
Registered Players:over 4 million Other:letter Anti Money Laundering Controls:KYC Partner Organisations:Gam Care, Gambling Therapy

Customer Service 6

Customer service at the bookmaker can be contacted by live chat, phone, email or even by letter, which I imagine will be too slow a method for most. The help section here has been designed to attempt to direct users to an answer for their question without using a contact method, but unfortunately, it is not comprehensive enough to succeed in this. Once you’ve clicked on the desired help method, you’ll be asked to choose the topic of your question. After doing this, an FAQ section for this topic will be displayed. Should this not answer the question, then the contact method can be accessed from this page. This means there are a couple of extra steps required should you wish to contact live chat directly, although it should in theory mean your question is directed to the relevant help department. In my experience however, this has not seemed to be the case, with customer service often having unsatisfactory answers to questions.

Licensing & Security8

Betfair states that the security of its customers is a top priority and judging by the measures put in place, this definitely seems to be the case. The encryption on the platform comes courtesy of Hydrant ID, with its 3DES protection. This offers a 256bit level of protection, though this is also dependent on a user’s computer. But, the Betfair servers will not allow access to anyone attempting to log in using a computer that can offer less than 128bit protection, which is the minimum requirement for good security. The bookie is also ISO27001 certified, which is the global standard for information security management.

Complimenting this, the bookie has a rigorous know your customer (KYC) system in place. Towards the integrity of its bets, the operator is a member of the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS). This service provides an independent platform in the case of disputes on the outcomes of bets between the bookmaker and customers. Unlike many other operators reviewed here, Betfair is not a member of the European Sports and Security Association (ESSA). Although the bookmaker is not a member of the ESSA, it does have over 30 information-sharing agreements with governing bodies across many different sports, to help maintain the integrity of their platform and sports betting generally. The sportsbook is licensed by the Gambling Commission for UK customers, with its headquarters in London.

Well Earned Bonus Points8

The penultimate round is the bonus round, with the chance for the operator to pick up some points on some of the less obvious aspects of its online sportsbook. First up is the bookie’s live-streaming capabilities. The selection of events available for live-stream here is strong. There’s a handy schedule list which can be arranged by hourly, daily or monthly indexes and will display all the upcoming fixtures available to be streamed in these time frames. A great advantage that Betfair has over other bookmakers is that it can offer live-stream for big football fixtures. One drawback is that you have to bet on any event, not just for horse or greyhound racing, to live-stream it. Practically all online sportsbooks require bets to be placed on horse and greyhound racing to view, although some require just a positive account balance to live-stream events outside of these sports. Here, you’ll have to bet on the event and still have a remaining positive account balance, to successfully live-stream. This prevents the operator getting full marks in this area, but the selection is wide.

Betfair has a number of big betting partnerships. The bookie now boasts 5 betting partnerships with Premier League football cubs, after agreeing a deal with Southampton FC in August 2015. This makes the Betfair brand very prominent at football grounds in the UK and the company are certainly keen to have a strong media presence. The bookmaker also has a number of horse races associated with its name. Though it lacks a major shirt or team sponsorship deal, the bookmaker again performs well in this round.

It’s fair to say the success of Betfair has been widely recognised by the number of awards it has received. The founders themselves have even been widely praised and recognised, winning an emerging entrepreneurs award in 2003. The business won one of the ultimate prizes in the industry in both 2009 and 2010, when it was named the UK’s best sports betting operator at the E-Gaming Review awards in consecutive years. Other titles it has won at these awards include mobile operator and an award for innovation. Full marks well earned!

Extra markets are not necessarily this bookie’s strong point, but there is enough to warrant it earning the point here. Technically, the only extra market here is current affairs, but this topic is split into other sections, which means there are a good number of betting options. What this bookmaker does have that others don’t though, is the betting exchange. The ability to access better odds and to bet against another player opens up extra markets in a sense and is an almost unique function Betfair has over the other operators reviewed. The bonuses and promotions range here is small but well focused. The promotions usually focus on a specific sporting event and so revolve fairly quickly. However, outside of the promotion range there are the daily specials, which offer both unique betting options and high odds. There’s also the edge function for accumulators, which is similar to the accumulator insurance offer most online sportsbooks have. In other words, there are plenty of bonuses here to keep anyone happy and once again, the point is well deserved.

Conclusion – A Consistent Performer

On the whole, Betfair has performed consistently well in the areas that matter most. It doesn’t need to offer the biggest market selection, the most betting options or the widest range of promotions, because that’s not its style. It’s a slick, intelligent and tailored approach that has resulted in a complete online sportsbook that does what it sets out to do. The result is an original, excellent online platform that has rightly been commended along its lifespan.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Betfair
  • Major Strengths
  • exchange betting provider
  • unique betting options
  • Major Weaknesses
  • none
  • Minor Strengths
  • adjustable cash out function
  • Minor Weaknesses
  • high commission on exchange
  • relatively low odds

The downsides are that the odds here are lower than those at most of our other reviewed bookmakers. Of all the betting sites reviewed on our website, BetVictor had the best odds for football, so consider this operator when searching for the best prices. Betfair justifies this by stating that the odds punters can find on its betting exchange are up to 20% higher than anywhere else. While this is true, this doesn’t help many punters who prefer to bet at the traditional sportsbook, rather than at the exchange. Anyway, the commission taken from customers using the exchange can make the difference in odds negligible at the end of the day. On the whole though, Betfair is a fantastic betting site that is definitely worthy of your attention.

Q&A/FAQ

How can I complete the identity verification process?

For customers registered in the UK, Betfair will run an identity verification process called ID-3 to confirm the validity of the customer information given. Around 80% of customers pass this process, but for those who don’t, they will be required to send a copy of a personal identification document, such as a passport, and a copy of an address verification document, such as a utility bill. After these have been checked and approved by Betfair, your account will be approved.