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Betfair Review

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In the twenty-plus years that the online gambling business has been alive and kicking, there have been several points where a person or group of individuals have created something innovative that would shape the future of the betting world. When Betfair opened its doors in 2000, they were far ahead of their time with their sportsbook offering; a first of its kind, the betting exchange allowed users to create odds on events and have others take those wagers in an open exchange.

The company has added several complementary products over the years, and a recent merger has created one of the largest gaming companies in the world. Today, I am going to take an in-depth look at Betfair and give it an honest, unbiased review for you.

About Betfair

As mentioned, Betfair was launched in 2000. Its founders, Andrew Black and Edward Wray, decided that they wanted to create a new way for punters to be able to place bets on their favorite sporting events. Usually, a bookmaker would set the odds for a match. Wray and Black wanted to put that decision making into the hands of bettors (more on that to follow).

Betfair has focused heavily on the UK and European gambling markets, where soccer is such a huge sport from a betting revenue perspective. The company has two gaming licenses: one from Malta and the other from the UK. Having these two licenses proves that Betfair is one of the most reputable businesses in the online gaming space; the UK Gambling Commission license is particularly difficult to receive, given all the due diligence completed by the regulatory board. All of this adds up to your money being highly secure at these sites (with one major exception, which I will discuss later on).

In 2010, the decision was made to take Betfair public on the London Stock Exchange. This allowed the company to raise significant capital and further cement itself as one of the industry giants. At the time of this review, the valuation of Betfair was hovering around the 2 billion USD range.

In 2014, Betfair was one a few online gaming companies to receive a license to operate in New Jersey, one of the few US states to allow regulated internet gambling. This is a license only for the casino, but that is an excellent foothold for the company as it makes its way back into the US market.

On February 2, 2016, the company announced a merger with another European online gaming giant, Paddy Power. The net result of this merger is the largest company by revenue of any of the regulated online gaming groups.

Who Can Play at Betfair?

As you might expect, with licenses from two highly respected gaming jurisdictions, there are some restrictions placed on Betfair with regards to who can access their suite of games. This list is constantly changing. As an example, I was a client of Betfair until they pulled the plug on Canadians having access in 2016. This is pretty disappointing for me personally, as I loved the site, but I understand more than most how important it is for companies to stay within the boundaries of these regulatory boards.

Here is the current list of restricted countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Angola
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Algeria
  • Spain
  • France
  • Greece
  • Guam
  • Guyana
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • Iraq
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Puerto Rico
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • Turkey
  • United States
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe

Software Suppliers

Betfair uses proprietary software for their sportsbook offering. When they started the company, no one was licensing betting exchange software, so they had no choice but to build it in-house. While there are ongoing development costs associated with this, it is much lower than they likely would have had to pay in royalties to a third-party software company.

For their casino platform, Betfair has chosen to work with several partners. The most prominent of these software vendors is Playtech. One of the industry’s top casino software developers, Playtech manages both the download and instant-play versions of the Betfair Casino. For the non-download version of the games, content from suppliers such as IGT, Ash Gaming, CORE Gaming, Red Tiger Gaming, and SG Interactive have been integrated into the lobby. The result is an excellent combination of games featuring different themes and looks that will surely make any player happy and engaged.

The platform is also available via mobile devices. Depending on jurisdiction, you may be able to download their native app to your Android or iOS devices. Otherwise, you can access the site and games through your device’s browser.

The Good Stuff

Betting Exchange

Well, this is a no-brainer, right? I will go into detail about how the betting exchange works a little later on in this review, but I can tell you that being able to set the lines yourself and find people willing to take the wager is a complete game-changer for sports bettors. If you haven’t tried the platform yet, I encourage you to get on to it right away; you’ll be hooked from the first accepted bet!

Website Navigation

Sometimes when an online gaming site has so many different products and variants, the website can end up as cluttered as a teenager’s bedroom. Thankfully, this is not the case at Betfair. As the company has grown and added more options for you, their web development team has worked tirelessly to ensure that finding your way around the site is not an issue. As opposed to many cumbersome sites I have come across in my reviews, the Betfair navigation is clean and easy to comprehend, meaning you will spend less time clicking aimlessly and more time being able to place bets.

The Bad Stuff

Past Promo Disaster

While I could do some more digging and probably find some more things to dislike at Betfair, there really is no reason to do so when I can spend more time explaining to you how one of the world’s biggest sites tried to correct a terrible oversight in one of the most absurd ways ever.

You may find when Googling Betfair that a lot of sites like this have blacklisted the company, and you will also find a significant number of player complaints. After much research, I noticed that almost all the negativity centered on one promotion gone wrong.

In 2010, the company launched an aggressive “Happy Hour” promotion which offered players an unlimited number of 50% deposit bonuses to a maximum of $100 each time, with an absurdly low 10x wagering requirement. While this promotion only lasted for 4 hours, the result was disastrous; it spread like wildfire online, and players basically figured out that by just playing the minimum amount of times and by making massive numbers of deposits during those hours, they could gain an edge over the house. While this was noteworthy on its own, what happened next was nearly disastrous.

Realizing that they had just taken a multi-million-dollar hit on this promotion, Betfair decided to freeze all the accounts that had benefited from the offer. Following that, they started to confiscate money from these balances without any real explanation – there was no breach of the terms and conditions of the promotion. Rumor has it that they were also able to take money back from a player’s bank account; that is an egregious offense if true. The end result was the single largest confiscation of funds from player accounts in the history of the online gaming industry.

While it took some time to recover from this, the company continues to thrive, and I am assuming that marketing person has long since been fired. As there haven’t been any complaints like this since the incident, I am of the belief that, however catastrophic, this was a one-time event, and I am willing to give Betfair a second chance here.

Betting Exchange

So…what is a betting exchange, anyway? Well, let me try to explain in simple terms. Both Wray and Black had business acumen, and they realized that rather than having one single bookmaker create the odds with which the public must bet, an open exchange could be created. In this scenario, anyone could create a wager on a match and then post it into the exchange, waiting to see if anyone would take the bait.

Let me give you an example of how this works, using NFL football as an example:

Say you want to make a bet on the New England Patriots vs. the Green Bay Packers. The sportsbook has the line set at New England -3.5 points, but you are a huge Patriots fan, consider yourself a savvy insider, and you are confident they are going to crush the Packers. At Betfair, you can select the game, and then create your own wager: let’s say in this case, $100 that the Patriots will win the game by 7 points. Once you create the wager, it is posted on the exchange, where it sits until someone who thinks they would love the Packers and 7 points accepts the bet. At that point, there is a bet between you and another player, with the winner of the bet paying Betfair a commission for the action.

See how much fun that could be? Now you can be the bookmaker, posting lines that you feel are more attractive based on what you feel the outcome of a game is. Now…imagine thousands of gamblers and hundreds of sporting events, and you can imagine how busy that exchange is!

A couple of points to make a note of: when you post the wager on the exchange, the money is held from your account, even if the wager isn’t accepted. If the bet goes without action, then the money is returned to your account after the game starts. You do, however, have the option of freeing up the money by canceling an unclaimed bet before the game starts.

While there were instantly competitors to Betfair in this exchange space (Flutter being the largest of them), the advanced nature of these bets wasn’t for the average bettor, so Betfair now manages the largest online betting exchange by far, with most other sportsbooks choosing to go the more traditional route.

Sportsbook

Betfair Sportsbook

Having this unique position in the market was great for Betfair, but that didn’t stop the company from wanting a piece of the house-versus-player sports betting market as well. The Betfair sportsbook engine is robust, showing odds on thousands of sporting events around the world. The company doesn’t just cater to the major professional leagues; you can find odds on almost any professional sport. Have a look at the sports currently featured on the Betfair homepage:

  • American Football
  • Athletics
  • Australian Rules
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Chess
  • Cricket
  • Cycling
  • Darts
  • Football
  • Gaelic Games
  • Golf
  • Greyhound Racing
  • Handball
  • Horse Racing
  • MMA
  • Motor Sport
  • Rugby Union
  • Football
  • Horse Racing
  • Tennis
  • Cricket
  • MMA
  • Darts

Many sports also feature in-game live betting; this is usually most popular for sports like soccer and tennis, where the matches themselves can be long and with only one result, so betting on individual aspects of each game makes them far more intriguing.

If all these real sports aren’t enough for you, there is a whole series of virtual sports that you can bet on as well at Betfair. If you don’t know what these are, virtual sports are essentially video games that play themselves; think of the demo versions of games you have likely seen, but attach a Random Number Generator to them and let them play to a result. These events take much less time to complete (a soccer match can be done in less than 10 minutes), so you can make wagers on them far more often.

Casino Game Selection

While Betfair is clearly a sports betting-first site, that doesn’t take away anything from their casino offering. The company knows how valuable an excellent casino offering can be, and with the partners they have chosen, you will be able to see the quality from the second you click on their casino link. Let’s take a look at some of the games being offered.

Slots

The slots offering at Betfair is fantastic; leading the way are the top-notch Playtech games. The combination of great pay lines and graphics to popular licensed content gives Betfair players access to hundreds of riveting slots titles. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • 8-Ball
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  • Adventures in Wonderland Deluxe
  • Age of the Gods
  • Age of the Gods: Fate Sisters
  • Aladdin’s Lamp
  • Alchemist’s Lab
  • Alice and the Mad Tea Party
  • Batman & Catwoman Cash
  • Batman & Mr. Freeze Fortune
  • Batman & the Batgirl Bonanza
  • Batman & the Joker Jewels
  • Batman & the Penguin Prize
  • Batman & The Riddler Riches
  • Battle of the Gods
  • Beach Life
  • Britain’s Got Talent Star Struck
  • Bruce Lee
  • Bruce Lee: Dragon’s Tale
  • Cat in Vegas
  • Cat Queen
  • Cleopatra
  • DaVinci Diamonds
  • DaVinci Diamonds Dual Play
  • Deal or No Deal: The Banker’s Riches
  • Deal or No Deal: World Slot
  • Desert Treasure
  • Family Guy
  • Fei Cui Gong Zhu
  • Fei Long Zai Tian
  • Fiddle Dee Dough
  • Fields of Fortune
  • Firemen
  • Fire Queen
  • Fireworks Frenzy
  • Fish-O-Rama
  • Five Star
  • Fixed Odd Slots
  • Flowers
  • Fluffy Favourites
  • Football Carnival
  • Football Fans
  • From Russia With Love
  • John Wayne
  • Juicy Booty
  • Jungle Boogie
  • KISS® Shout it out Loud!
  • Little Britain
  • Lotto Madness
  • Luau Loot
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • MegaJackpots Cleopatra
  • MegaJackpots Siberian Storm
  • Michael Jackson: King of Pop
  • Mini Dragons
  • Miss Fortune
  • Miss White
  • Monopoly Big Event
  • Montezuma
  • Monty Python’s Life of Brian
  • Monty Python’s Spamalot!
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Pink Panther
  • Pixies of the Forest
  • Reel ’em In! Big Bass Bucks
  • Reel Classic 3 Casino Slots
  • Rich Treats
  • Roaring Wilds
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller
  • Rocky
  • Silent Samurai
  • Silver Bullet
  • Star Trek: Explore New Worlds
  • Star Trek: Red Alert
  • Star Trek: The Trouble with Tribbles
  • Streak of Luck
  • Superman: The Movie
  • Superman II
  • Super Monopoly Money
  • Top Gun
  • What’s Cooking
  • Wheel of Fortune Hollywood Edition
  • Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme! Spin
  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire

Table Games

Betfair Table Games

Not to be outdone, the table games tab of the Betfair lobby offers you a vast array of games and variants, including several different blackjack games. For me, it is important to have this many options available when I enter a casino lobby. I can easily get bored after playing at so many casinos, so I need the variety to keep my attention. I am very pleased with the number of games available at Betfair; I am sure when you look at this list you will find games that you love, as well.

  • Baccarat
  • Casino War
  • Red Dog
  • Roulette
  • Craps
  • Pai Gow Poker
  • Keno
  • Single-Deck Blackjack
  • Caribbean Poker
  • Sic Bo
  • Pontoon
  • Around the World
  • Blackjack Switch
  • Casino Hold ‘Em
  • Let Them Ride
  • Poker Three
  • Tequila Poker
  • Blackjack Surrender
  • Blackjack
  • Blackjack Pro
  • Double Attack Blackjack
  • Lucky Blackjack

Specialty Games

All Playtech licensees get access to games that don’t fit into the table games category. These games, usually featuring terrible player odds, aren’t really my thing, but I do know many people who love them. Here is a list of those games at Betfair (you can also find some more video-game-style betting options in their arcade section):

  • Final Score
  • Bonus Bowling
  • Derby Day Horse Racing
  • Dice Twister
  • Heads or Tails
  • Jackpot Darts
  • Genie’s Hi Lo
  • Knockout
  • Wheel of Light
  • Wild Viking
  • Bingo
  • Rock Paper Scissors
  • Roller Coaster Dice
  • Mahjong
  • Mega Ball
  • Pachinko
  • Penalty Shootout

Video Poker

Where I do tend to spend a lot of time, no matter if it is online or in a land-based casino, is the video poker area. Video poker is one of the few games in a casino that, if played to perfect strategy, can produce an edge in favor of the player (even without a terrible promotion like what Betfair ran in 2010). You can choose from multiple variations of the popular game at Betfair, many of which feature multi-hand variants for even more excitement!

  • Two Way Royal
  • Jacks or Better
  • All American
  • Aces and Faces
  • Pick’Em Poker
  • Deuces Wild
  • Joker Poker
  • Tens or Better
  • Mega Jacks

Live Dealer Casino

Betfair LIve Dealer

If you want to combine the action of playing in a live casino with the convenience of not having to put on pants, then the live dealer games are perfect for you! Many online casinos have added these games over the last few years; I like the fact that there is a human at the other end of the camera, even though the game is still being played digitally. Here are the options you have in the live dealer tab of the Betfair Casino:

  • Roulette
  • Baccarat
  • Blackjack
  • Three Card Poker
  • Casino Hold’Em

Promotions

Betfair Promotions

With so many different types of bets that can be made at Betfair, it is not surprising to see that there are tons of different promotions each focused on different verticals. Rather than clog up this page with details on all the promotions (you can check them out for yourself on their site), I am going to focus on a couple of note.

Welcome Bonus

Casino players can choose from two different welcome bonuses for their first deposit:

  • 100% to a maximum of $100 to be able to be used on all casino games
  • 200% to a maximum of $400 for slots play only

Obviously, it is much harder to clear bonuses playing slots. However, if you are looking to maximize the bonus, this is still your best bet. Personally, I chose to make my first deposit with a sports betting bonus, as I felt that gave me the best chance to actually come away a winner, even though the bonus was significantly smaller.

Live Casino Bonus

The bonus for live dealer games is slightly different. While the bonus is only 50%, the maximum is $200, and you also receive 5 chips to be played at Live Roulette. I like this bonus, as it forces players to try out the live dealer games, which as I explained earlier are increasingly popular in the space.

Banking

Unlike many of their competitors in the UK market, Betfair does not have any live betting shops to aid in the processing of payments, relying 100% on online transactions. However, they do have all the primary options for players who want to make deposits and withdrawals. There have been a few complaints about how long it takes for a withdrawal to be processed (a common complaint across the board in this industry), but given that this is a public company, it isn’t because the company doesn’t have the funds to pay.

Deposit Options

  • Check by mail
  • ClickandBuy
  • Delta
  • Maestro
  • MasterCard
  • Neteller
  • PayPal
  • Solo
  • Visa Electron
  • Visa
  • Western Union
  • Bank Transfer Express
  • Skrill

Withdrawl Options

  • Check
  • Neteller
  • PayPal
  • Visa Electron
  • Visa
  • Bank Transfer
  • Skrill

Comp Program

The Betfair casino comp program is managed by Playtech. The terms are straightforward; you earn between 1 and 3 comp points for every $10 wagered in the casino, and points can be redeemed at a rate of $1 for every 100 points.

VIP Program

Betfair VIP

The Betfair VIP program is one of the most detailed and player-friendly I have ever come across in my time reviewing online gambling sites. The company clearly understand the value of having happy, loyal customers. There are three levels of the VIP program, each with its own set of benefits. The most incredible part of the program is the long list of VIP events that Betfair invites their VIP players to attend. Look at the list of places they have gone in the past:

  • Royal Ascot
  • Monty Python Live
  • British Grand Prix
  • Champions League Final
  • Cheltenham Festival
  • El Clasico (Real Madrid Vs Barcelona)
  • Cirque du Soleil
  • International Rugby
  • ATP World Tour Tennis
  • NFL International Series

As far as I am concerned, it is these types of events and non-bonus perks that separate the Betfair VIP program from the rest; these are prizes that players cannot put a true value on, as they are more aspirational. You should definitely check out the full details of the program on their website.

Customer Service

A world-class, publicly-traded company such as Betfair needs to ensure that their clients are taken care of in a quick, effective manner. This is especially true in light of what they did to their players in 2010 with the Happy Hour scandal. With this in mind, the casino gives you nearly every way possible to contact them. Not only do they have an excellent FAQ section which will take care of most minor questions, but you can also communicate with the Betfair customer service team via these methods:

  • Telephone
  • Live Chat
  • Email
  • Facebook Message
  • Twitter

I like that they are embracing social media as a front line for customer support. It is, after all, the first place a player will likely go to post a complaint these days.

Would I Play at Betfair?

Definitely. Let me be very clear here: I was a Betfair customer until they took away my access in 2016 when they stopped taking action from Canada. I LOVE the betting exchange idea and think it will continue to grow and become more commonplace as the years go by. These guys were the pioneers of this style of sports betting, and continue to lead the pack with their exchange. Having added high-quality casino games and a fantastic VIP program, they match up very well against their competition.

Yes, they did something awful to their players, but that was eight years ago. Since then, there have been no significant issues, so I think we can put the past behind them. As a result, I highly recommend Betfair to you for all your betting needs.

This review was made by: Rating: 4.2 out of 5

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