Betfair Review

Betfair is not a bookmaker in the traditional sense, but rather a betting exchange whereby punters bet and lay with one another. Of course, many a bookmaker – especially the smaller fish – use Betfair and other such exchanges to offset possible losses.

The odds at Betfair (and other exchanges) are higher than a standard bookie as there is no margin built into the odds. As there is no bookmaker trying to force a profit from the market you often get prices around 15% better, even allowing for Betfair's commission, which starts at 5%, but with reductions available for regular customers.

Expansion has been swift for Betfair since its launch in 2000, and it now processes many millions of transactions each and every day, with a vast range of markets. They have expanded from their sports exchange base to incorporate casino, games and poker products, as well as a fixed odds sportsbook, which is rumoured to be seen as the future by Betfair bosses.

Bonuses and Promotions (Fixed Odds)

New customers can claim £100 in free bets through the fixed odds sportsbook section of the Betfair site. To claim you'll need to enter a promotion code (ZBBC01) and then place a series of £10 bets and five bets will earn you a £20 free bet token. Five futher bets will earn you a second token, and this repeats until you have claimed the full £100.

As with most offers there are some rules you'll need to abide by. For starters, your bets need to be placed at odds of 1/2 or more for them to count towards the free bets. You'll also need to place them using real money, so you can't use a free bet to claim a free bet, and any bet that has been cashed out won't count towards the promotion.

Or if you'd like to hear it straight from the bookies mouth, here's what they have to say about the terms: "New customer offer. Place 5 x £10 or more bets to receive £20 in free bets. Repeat up to 5 times to receive maximum £100 bonus. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Exchange bets excluded. T&Cs apply."

Promotions on the Betfair Exchange

Given the nature of Betfair’s exchange model, they do not offer regular promotions. The occasional offers they do throw out there tend to be percentage bonuses on multiple bets, but there is rarely anything handed out to racing punters other than the odd free treble for really big race meetings. They do have other promotions covering a range of sports, and they appear to be increasing in regularity, which is always nice.

The upside, though, is that Betfair often has significantly better odds than the conventional bookmakers. And while it can even out at the top of the market for big races, there is often bags of value to be found with Betfair further down the field.

Usability and Design

For those visiting a betting exchange for the first time, Betfair can be a daunting prospect. It does have a decent demo that gives new customers the gist, but if you are new to this world, take care: it is very easy to lay when you mean to back and vice versa, or sometimes people get confused by the decimal odds and inadvertently accept silly prices. In other words: concentrate!

The ‘look’ of the site has always seemed a little outdated compared to some of the flashy bookies out there. This is – in part – because of the vast amount of information the backend has to process and the front end has to display, but a recent facelift to the site has added a new level of slickness that was hitherto absent.

The Verdict

Betfair is a necessary addition to your suite of bookies for the simple reason that more often than not you will find better odds there, on more markets than anywhere else. The market variety is second to none, regularly offering the chance to back or lay horses running in Australia, New Zealand, UAE, USA, South Africa and a host of others.

It is doubtful whether you would sign up with Betfair for their relatively meagre opening offer or the other promotions they put out there from time to time. But to have the option to lay off a horse you suspect is far shorter than their ability suggests is always worth having in your bag of betting tricks. And if you are a fan of backing outsiders, Betfair is certainly the place for you.