The pioneer of the betting exchange and still operating the largest peer-peer sports betting platform of its type in the world. Set up in 2000 Betfair are far from your traditional bookie. Although mostly still renowned for peer-peer exchange betting, Betfair these days also operate a full fixed odds sportsbook alongside giving you flexibility in the type of bets you want to place. This comes with a good sign up offer and very enticing regular promotions.
Excellent in play services and cash out (Betfair invented both) along with a large amount of live streaming on available for both exchange and sportsbook. Often the online bookie of choice for professional gamblers due to the ability to move between fixed odds and exchange.
- World’s largest sports betting exchange
- Full fixed odds sportsbook with every feature you could possibly want
- Excellent live betting, streaming, Cash Out and partial Cash Out
- Professionals favourite, well known, reliable and experienced
Set up in 2000 as a consequence of a chance meeting between professional gambler Andrew Black and City boy Edward Wray, the Betfair group pioneered and went on to create the world’s largest internet betting exchanges. The first ever betting exchange market was offered by Betfair at the 2000 Epsom Oaks. By 2004 revenues were exceeding £50 million and by 2010 the company had floated on the UK stock exchange. Betfair now process over 1.2 billion bets in a year with a total value of over £56 billion – this equates to more transactions than all major European stock exchanges put together.
In 2013 Betfair launched a fixed price sportsbook alongside its exchange, although it is still the exchange that most people sign up for. The concept of how an exchange works is simple, by cutting out the middle man you can both back and lay bets with other punters (peer to peer) at any odds you choose, Betfair simply take a commission from each transaction (usually 5% of winnings that can reduce to as low as 2%). This can mean you find odds around 20% better than on fixed books. While Betfair are not the only online bookmaker that now offer an exchange they are certainly the biggest with the most experience.
The pioneering model has won Betfair many awards over the years. Betfair were the first online bookmaker to offer in play live betting all the way back in 2001 on their exchanges and many would say they are responsible for a betting revolution. Originally based in Hammersmith, London, UK, unfortunately, like most other big bookmaking enterprises, Betfair now operate out of Malta.
With around 1.5 million active customers Betfair are one of the largest online bookmakers in the UK market. Betfair have a global presence in over 100 countries, accepting bets in 7 different currencies and offering their site in several languages.
In 2016 Betfair merge with Paddy Power to create Paddy Power Betfair (PPB). This combined entity is now one of the biggest gambling companies in the world with revenues just shy of £2 billion. For the foreseeable future both brands will be kept separate and customers are allow to have accounts, and claim welcome packages, with both. As with most big mergers the hope is this will lead to a better resourced more innovative online bookmaker rather than the prospect of losing the identity and features of two very different brands.
I personally love Betfair, they are the giant of the betting exchange and if you like this type of peer-peer betting with the option to place fixed odds bets too then you are onto a winner with Betfair. Saying that Betfair cannot offer some services you may expect form traditional bookmakers, such as the ability to walk into a shop and bet in cash. The online sportsbook is good and complements the exchange well.
Interface and Appearance
Yellow and black is far from my favourite colour combination although Betfair seem to have toned it down a little in recent years. Both the exchange and sportsbook main pages are now clear, not overcrowded, quick to load and don’t bombard you with too many flashy graphics.
Sports highlights and latest promos are displayed centrally with other games, highlights and promotions to the right. In the exchange sports are offered as an A-Z list on the left and from a dropdown menu from the top bar in the sportsbook. You can easily flick between the exchange, sportsbook and other features with the top menu bar being particularly easy to navigate. The mobile apps are good, very similar to the main site and offering all the same functions and betting options.
Betfair offer a very large range of sports, currently over 30 different markets in the sportsbook, and more in the exchange. With Betfair the particularly impressive aspect is the depth of the markets on offer, if there is an event on pretty much anywhere you can usually find someone laying odds on Betfair. Likewise you can lay odds on pretty much anything you want in the world of sport.
Betfair sportsbook and exchange offer odds on: all football from the biggest event to the most obscure, to the point where you may have to look up the country the match is being played in, American football, Athletics, Australian rules football, badminton, baseball, basketball, bowls, boxing & wrestling (inc UFC/MMA), chess, cricket, cycling, darts, eSports, futsal, Gaelic sports, golf, greyhound racing, horse racing, ice hockey, martial arts, motor racing (F1, motorbikes and Moto GP), rugby (union and league), snooker, speedway, tennis and volleyball (+beach),
You can also bet on financials through the exchange and a range of specials betting, in addition to the standard markets above. Financial markets are also available in the bespoke Tradefair section. Tradefair offers full financial spread betting – beware this is not for the uninitiated but can be very profitable if you count yourself as a city boy or girl.
Non-sport and specials markets are offered in abundance by Betfair in both the exchange and sportsbook sections. I would say Betfair offer the best non-sports markets around. Betfair offer all of the basics such as UK and world politics, music, weather and TV shows but also offer some strange markets from individual odds on things like ‘when will alien life be proven’. If you can do the impossible and find a betting line that Betfair do not offer odds on then you can request odds too.
Depth of market is a genuine selling point for Betfair. For a big football event for example you can get hundreds of markets on both the exchange and the sportsbook. Despite the range offered Betfair don’t crowd the page with betting lines as the likes of Bet365 are guilty of. Lines are separated into sections allowing you to quickly and easily find what you are looking for. Obviously with exchange betting you are offered multiple odds on single selections, you can easily expand these markets to show these although Betfair will always show the most favourable odds for backing and laying on the main screen.
Backing and Laying
As the Betfair model is mainly exchange betting (click to read exchange review) it is worth quickly explaining the concept of backing and laying for those unfamiliar with the system. In peer to peer betting you can place a bet (backing) as you would in any fixed odds book but you can also lay a bet for someone else to back, here you are betting on something to lose. This way you act as your own mini bookie and you win if the person backing the bet loses. Betfair will take a commission whoever wins, if the punter wins it will take commission from the winnings and if the person laying the bet wins they will take commission from the stake.
You can pick any odds you want when backing and laying your bets, you can do this with a little slider next to selection in the betslip. A bet will only stand if it is ‘matched’ i.e. if you want to back a bet at 8/1 it will only stand if someone is willing to lay that bet for your at those odds. Vice versa if you want to lay a bet at say 20/1 it will only stand if someone backs that bet. If your bet remains unmatched at the time of the event then you can either change your offer or the bet is cancelled.
Anonymity is maintained and no one can see what individual punters are doing as the prices offered are a pool of punters individual backs and lays. For example if 4 people are betting £10 each at odds of 4/1 on an event you will see a combined pool of £40 against which you can lay. In an exchange the maximum bet is therefore always defined by the amount in the ‘pool’ which is often lower than maximum bets in normal fixed odds sportsbooks.
During big events you can usually find the odds you want to back or lay as there is a lot of liquidity in the market, i.e. lots of money floating around on the various betting lines. Exchange betting can be more restrictive on smaller or less popular events where you may just have to take what you are given or return to the traditional fixed odds book.
I've spent years saying beware the Betfair sportsbook odds and that for fixed odds alone you will be better off elsewhere. In the last year however Betfair have really turned around their reputation and offer the best average odds on a huge range of sports including: English football, tennis and rugby. Betfair also offer best odds guarantee for UK and Irish horse and greyhound racing as standard if.
The Betfair exchange cuts out the middle man and allows you to get odds on average 20% higher than usual. The nature of exchange betting means sometimes you can get amazing odds, up to 200% or so higher, it all depends what people are willing to back and lay around an event. Betfair take a commission from your winnings, usually around 5%, so try to factor this in when you place or lay your bet.
The flexibility between backing in the sportsbook or the exchange or laying bets in the exchange means Betfair offering is attractive indeed. Other bookmakers offer exchanges, such as Ladbrokes, but for these operators it’s their sportsbook that comes first and exchange second. With Betfair the exchange is the main feature and so they can offer an unparalleled range of odds in here. The odds are also better than other exchanges simply because there are so many more users on Betfair.
Although the Betfair sportsbook doesn’t always give the best odds around they do offer an attractive range of enhanced odds promotions and price rushes that can add value to bets. Exchange betting is a peer to peer service and so Betfair cannot offer enhanced odds promotions in this setting. It is worth comparing odds available in the exchange versus odds in the sportsbook, with an offer applied sometimes it is better to take the fixed odds.
Betfair odds are available in fraction and decimal format. Odds are really clear to see shown in a blue box against a white background for backing and in a pink/red box for laying. Odds in the exchange are offered in decimal by default but you can see fractions by hovering your cursor over the selection.
Minimum / Maximum Bets and Payouts
Maximum payout levels and maximum stakes are an important consideration. This doesn’t just catch those out who like to place large bets but also those who place smaller wagers on selection(s) with high odds. Many people only discover payment caps when it is too late which can take a real shine off your big win.
In the exchange it is simple you can back or lay a bet up to the total amount offered in the pool for that selection (displayed underneath the odds). Different odds will have different amounts in the pool, for example, Barcelona to beat Real Madrid at evens may have a pool of £200 but at 4/5 this may be £1000. It all depends what odds you want and what you want win. The nice thing about the exchange is you can’t end up over staking as the pool is effectively represents the maximum at that time. Minimum bets vary in the exchange so check in advance, for example a minimum stake of £2 is required to back a multiple bet and £10 is required to lay a bet at starting price (SP).
For the sportsbook it is the same as any other, maximum and minimum bets are restricted by the type of selection(s) and the odds you are backing. Always check the terms and conditions before placing a bet. In general maximum payout rates are quite high with Betfair, up to £1 million on major football and horse racing. Other sports vary, for example £500k on golf and tennis, £250k on Cricket and £100k on most US sports, snooker, darts and Rugby.
Novelty and special bet and some sports such as volleyball are generally capped at £25k. Maximum payouts can be found in the terms and conditions but this isn’t an easy process compared to other bookies. If you place bets on multiple selections from different markets remember your bet will be capped by the market with the lowest maximum payout so always check in advance.
You can bet by phone with Betfair (see contact details further down) but the minimum stake is £50+.
Live Betting and Streaming
Live In Play Betting
Betfair were the first bookmaker to offer live in play betting on their exchange all the way back in 2001. As a result you may expect Betfair to offer a full in play service and they do. The in play section is comprehensive offering everything a punter needs to place a bet in both the exchange and sportsbook. As well as a full spectrum of live streaming there are also live scores, form guides and news and tips. The in play sections are split by sport and time and this creates an easily digestible page that allows you to find your market really quickly.
The live betting section on the exchange is definitely better than that on the sportsbook. On the exchange you can create your own in play custom section and plan ahead days in advance. Both in play sections are decent on the mobile app, with odds quick to find in your desired market. The live feature is possibly the redeeming feature of the mobile exchange app, and after all live betting on mobile is probably the most critical feature to get right.
Of particular note is the speed of refresh. Odds are refreshed by the second and markets do not spend long in a suspended state during game incidents. This is why Betfair has become the main platform for many professional gamblers.
In play promotions are quite poor with Betfair although the price rush feature does give you a nice surprise every now and again. For regular in play promotions shop around.
There is always something to watch live on Betfair. Streaming football, cricket, tennis, snooker, horses and more the service is great alongside the in play feature and exchange. You can easily filter the in play section to those events shown live and you can even see live events days in advance. Combined with the depth of markets offered through Betfair you can really see why professional punters spend a long time on here. Betfair don't tell you the exact number of broadcasts they stream, I think it is in Bet365 territory at around 100,000 each year.
Streaming services are free to watch by all members as long as you have funds in your account. Live horse race streaming requires a minimum bet of just £0.50, which is lower than most other bookies (average £1). The minimum goes up however depending on the type of bet you have place. A single is 50p but if your race is part of a double this now increases to £1, treble £1.50, 4-fold (also Lucky15 and Yankee) £2, etc., effectively 50p/horse/race. For Tote bets however the minimum is a disappointing £5+. All streaming services are available on mobile too, and just remember if you want to watch and not bet, leave some cash in your account to do so.
Betfair offer so many apps you may need a whole new phone memory to cope with them all. There are independent apps offered for the sportsbook and the exchange too. This is slightly frustrating as it prevents easy comparison between the exchange market and fixed price market. The benefit of splitting the services between apps means they are simpler with less content. The positive aspect is all functionality of the main site is offered on mobile through the various apps.
Always with the yellow and black, I don’t know why it puts me off but it does. For the main sports app, besides the colour scheme, the app is quick to load and odds are really clearly displayed, although text can be quite small. The simple menu options top and bottom make the app easily searchable, you can switch from home, to highlights to in play really quickly with promotions and A-Z lists clearly visible. You can manage your account as you would online and promotions are clear and easy to find. A real winning point if this app is you can place a bet really quickly as you quite often want to do on the move. This app rates highly on both Apple and Android.
The exchange app comes in a poor second to the sportsbook app. Considering how long the exchange has been running you would think they would have this pinned down by now. The menu options are much less clear and you find yourself having to press 5 or more options before you are given your market with odds. This makes the app slow especially on mobile networks, not good for placing a quick wager. For exchange betting I would recommend sticking to the main site, even the mobile site is better than the app for me.
The Betfair gaming and casino apps are variable in their functionality. The casino app and arcade app are great and worth a try.
Betfair have one of the nicest Cash Out features available in both the sportsbook and exchange, available on desktop and through the mobile apps. Betfair basically invented cash out and so you would expect it to be good. They are also one of a few bookies who provide full partial cash out functionally at present. Combined with the live betting and streaming this is a really professional package.
Cash Out is also available on live horse racing with Betfair for win, each-way and multiple bets, which is a very novel feature, in fact they were also the first bookmaker to provide this service too.
Betfair also win when it comes to the range of markets that Cash Out is offered on. You can find all events on which Cash Out is available by clicking the tab on the top menu bar, you will find the offering is extensive. Cash Out is also available on most in play markets, if a selection is valid for the service there will be a clearly visible yellow icon above the odds of the selection.
How does Cash Out and partial Cash Out work?
For example you have staked a £10 wager on Luis Hamilton to win the Monaco Grand Prix at 5/1 two weeks before the race giving you potential winnings of £50. After qualifying Hamilton is in pole position on the grid. Cash Out at this point may be offering you £15 back for example if you cash in your bet in advance of the race. You may even cash in your bet in play, let’s say Hamilton is in the lead halfway through the race before the second round of pit stops, Cash Out may now be offering you £30 to cash in your bet. You can chose to cash out your bet at any point to mitigate your risk and this offers a completely new tactical dimension to betting. Be careful though as your Cash Out settlement amount will always be a lower value than your potential winnings would be if you allowed the event to run to completion.
Partial Cash Out makes this more exciting still. Let’s look at the same scenario, Hamilton is in the lead halfway through the race and you are being offered £30 Cash Out. You may decide to take half of the Cash Out, £15, which equates to half of your stake, £5. This way you have banked the £15 and you still have £5 of your stake in place on the original 5/1 bet. Effectively you can’t lose but obviously your winnings would be lower than if you let the whole £10 ride.
Cash Out is so much fun. Overall I wouldn’t say the feature itself is as good as Bet365’s, but considering the depth of markets available with Betfair, and the option of the exchange cash out, it really is a punters delight.
Gaming and Casino
Betfair offer a full range of casino and gaming services on the main site and through mobile apps. These include, casino, live casino, poker, exchange games, arcade, vegas slots, bingo and pools betting. There are a plethora of mobile apps bespoke to each category and you can receive additional sign up bonuses for these services.
The exchange games feature is a nice product from Betfair and not really matched anywhere else. Sick of losing money on games and casino then you have the option to lay bets here too and act like you own your own little casino.
As a modern online only bookmaker Betfair make a decent effort to interact with customers though social media. Their main Facebook page is updated hourly with trivia, news, promotions, prizes and alike.
The Betfair twitter page is great too, updated very regularly it is brimming with offers, prizes, news and more, see @Betfair. Betfair also offer a separate twitter help feed (@BefairCS) and also feeds specific to the exchange, horse racing and even feeds in Spanish and other languages.
The professional gamblers bookie. There has to be a reason why so many professionals make their living through the Betfair exchange. The simple value, range and depth of the exchange is unparalleled, quick and really easy to use. The sportsbook on its own is nothing to write home about but the offers a are good and its added functionality in the context of the exchange.
Betfair live betting in play and streaming services are superb, combined with an excellent Cash Out feature they give you as a punter a truly immersive experience. You will either love Betfair or not, if exchange betting is your thing you may never go anywhere else but if not there are other comparable of better fixed odds bookies around for you to bet with.
If you like to bet on your computer then this service is supreme however the mobile apps, especially for the exchange, leave a lot to be desired. It would also be nice to see a little more integration of the various products and services too, especially on mobile.
Price rush and Tradefair options are a nice unique addition to Betfair too.
Payment Options Deposit/Withdrawal
|Method||Min Deposit||Min Withdrawal||Fees||Withdrawal Time|
|Debit Card||£5||No Min||1.5% (0% Withdrawal)||2-5 Days|
|Credit Card||£5||No Min||1.5% (0% Withdrawal)||2-5 Days|
|PayPal||£5||£1||2.0% (0% Withdrawal)||Up To 24hrs|
|Skrill||£10||No Min||0%||Up To 24hrs|
|Neteller||£12||£2||0%||Up To 24hrs|
|Cash - Via Paddy Power Shops||£10||N/A||130+ Locations||n/a|
|Bank Wire||£10||£10||BACS Free||3-5 Days|
Betfair will allow you to bet in a range of currencies and offer many deposit methods, now including cash.
A big criticism of Betfair is their insistence on passing some of on the cost of financial transactions onto their customers, so beware before you deposit that you check any fees. Betfair really don’t make it easy for you to find the various terms for different deposit methods and this almost feels quite sneaky. For details on how each payment method works see our table above or visit payment options section.
How to place a bet
Placing a bet is a breeze with Betfair, sign up, deposit by any means discussed here and in any currency shown here and you can create your betslip. Once you have your selection(s) on the slip click place bet and you are done. You can use the same account to bet by phone for the exchange only and minimum bets are high at £50.
Betfair will take bets in 7 different currencies although once the account is open you are fixed to your currency of choice. Currencies include: British Pounds (GBP), Euros (EUR), Australian Dollars (AUD), Danish, Kroner (DKK), Hong Kong Dollars (HKD), Swedish Krona (SEK) and United States Dollars (USD).
Minimum and maximum deposits vary by method but for general card payments (Visa, Maestro, Mastercard) the minimum is £5 with no stated maximum. With no real world presence you previously could not bet with them in cash, however since their merger with Paddy Power you can now deposit in cash in Paddy shops using your account ID and photo ID (once your account has been verified. The minimum deposit by cash is £10, maximum £2,500 (per day).
Fees apply to deposit using many of these methods, for example a 1.5% fee applies to Visa and MasterCard transactions and 2% to PayPal (deposit only). This really isn’t on in the modern world and it sticks in your throat. There are fee free methods of payment too though such as Skrill.
- All major Debit and Credit cards
- Visa and Visa Electron
- Skrill (moneybookers)
- Click and Buy
- Bank transfer
- Western Union
Withdrawals with Betfair are fortunately free, with the exception of express bank transfer. You can withdraw using all the same methods by which you can deposit with the exception of pre-paid card and voucher systems. Betfair operate a closed loop policy meaning you must withdraw your funds using the same mechanism by which you deposited initially.
Withdrawals to card generally take around 2-5 working days due to normal banking procedures although withdrawals to online digital wallets such as PayPal can clear in a matter of hours. There are no minimum withdrawal limits to card and PayPal, which is a nice feature. Maximum withdrawal amounts vary, these are usually transactional limits and so multiple transfers can be made if you wish to take out more than the limit.
Betfair offer a full range of customer service options with live chat, phone, email and twitter offerings. Customer services can be reached 24/7 by live text but only 7:30am-12:30 am by phone, response times are really good and customers appear very happy with the set up. A dialog box in the help section displays the average time to get an email reply, generally a few hours.
See the contact details section below for ways to get in touch
In the UK we now take responsible gambling very seriously. It is UK law for any betting institution to hold a gambling commission licence and this can be revoked under law for failure to comply with guidelines designed to protect you as a punter.
Betfair offer a number of ways to help you gamble in a safe and responsible way. It should be noted that Betfair go beyond what most other bookmakers offer to ensure responsible gambling
- Deposit Limits – any period
- Loss Limits – daily, weekly, monthly
- Transfer Limits between sections (e.g poker)
- Self exclusion – 6 months – 5 years or permanently
- Partial Self exclusion – from any section (e.g.poker)
- Game session timers
- Time Out tools (24hrs to 30 days)
- Budget calculators and dairy service
- Advice and referral service
- Parental control available
UK Licence ref/No: 39426.
Betfair various divisions are all licenced and regulated by the Malta gaming authority.
Gaming and entertainment divisions also have UK gambling commission licences to operate in Britain and licences to operate in Ireland, as well as tons of other countries.
Additional details on restricted territories and operations can be found in the Betfair terms and conditions found on the home page.
- Name: Betfair
- Company Name: Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) Entertainment Limited
- URL: www.betfair.com
- Customer Services: 0344 871 0000 (UK), 1800 944 000 (IRE), 1300 238 324 (AUS), 0044 203 059 8888 (overseas)
- Customer services address: Betfair Helpdesk, Icon One, Lytton Way, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, SG1 1AG, United Kingdom.
- Head Office: Waterfront, Hammersmith Embankment, Chancellors Road (access on Winslow Road), London, England W6 9HP, United Kingdom. (Phone: +44 (0)208 834 8000)
- Phone betting (exchange only): 0344 871 5000 (UK), 1800 719 915 (IRE), 132BET (132238) (AUS)
- Text betting: Not offered
- Twitter: @Betfair, @BetfairCS (8am-11pm) and more
- Registered Company address: Betfair, Triq ll Kappillan, Santa Venera, SVR 1851, Malta