This article has been superseded by a more recent, in-depth review. View the most recent review of Betfair.
The following is a review of the betting agency Betfair. I will update this review periodically to keep the details up to date. The Betting Agencies section provides information and reviews for other sports betting agencies.
Betfair is a unique betting environment in that it lets you choose the odds. The service operates as a marketplace where members can set odds for an event and others can take up those odds. Betfair argues that you get 20% better odds with their service than with other bookmakers. Personally, I find that the odds are often better, especially for predicting the winner of a tournament, such as the Football World Cup or a tennis grand slam event.
- New member offers – I’m aware of the promotion code BTE111 to get a £25 free bet, but I’m not sure if it applies to Australian residents.
- Deposit options – Credit card (1.5% fee applies), BPay, direct deposit, cheque, Moneybookers, NETeller (1.5% fee applies), POLi (enables bank transfers to be acknowledged immediately)
- Withdrawal options – Bank transfer, credit union transfer, NETeller, Moneybookers
- Transaction fees – 1.5% on credit card and NETeller transactions. Commission fees apply to winning bets and are calculated as 5% multiplied by your discount rate, which is dependent on the value of the recent bets you have made. The original odds are typically better than those offered by other agencies, but they even out more once the commission is applied.
- Minimum bet – $5.00 for AUD denominated accounts
- Sports – A huge range of sports, racing, finance and entertainment betting options are available. Betfair offers a wider range of sports and betting options than any other service I have used.
- Live betting – Live betting during matches is available but over the phone only for Australian residents
- Credit – None that I am aware of
- Betfair tends to offer odds for upcoming events faster than other services
- Betfair offers odds for more events as well as more betting options than any other service I have used.
- The ability to ‘lay bets’ is a great way to bet against rather than for an outcome. This isn’t overly exciting when there are only two outcomes, but it enables you to bet against a particular tennis player to win a tournament, or against a particular team to win the Premier League.
- Betfair odds are typically better than you will get elsewhere, especially for tournament betting.
- Betfair is the hardest service to learn and use. It has a fantastic array of services, but learning how it all works takes time.
- Unlike some services, you can’t verify your identity online. You must go to an Australia Post office to do so.
- Betfair charges a 1.5% fee on credit card deposits.
- Due to the complicated commission structure, which applies to net winnings, it is harder to monitor your performance and take advantage of arbitrage opportunities. Point in case: “to calculate the commission you pay in a market, you first have to reduce the Market Base Rate (MBR) by your Discount Rate (DR).” The size the DR is “determined by the number of Betfair Points you have accrued on your account…. Once your DR has been calculated, your Betfair Points balance is reduced by 15%. This is known as the Weekly Decay… You are able to prevent the weekly decay of your Betfair Points by using a Betfair Holiday… You earn one Betfair Holiday when you register and one additional Betfair Holiday every three months thereafter.” Got all that?
- The minimum bet of $5 is far too high for my taste. Most other agencies support minimum bets of $1.00. Please note that if you have a Euro account, your minimum bet is 0.20 Euros.
- Australian account holders are given two “wallets” for Australian and non-Australian market events. You have to manually transfer funds between these accounts, which can be annoying when you’re trying to make a quick bet.
- Bottom line – Having use the likes of Sportsbet and Sportingbet, which are standard bookmakers, I found that Betfair took much longer to learn than its competitors. There are two reasons for this. First, it operates like a marketplace rather than a standard bookmaker. Second, Betfair offers many more betting options than its competitors. If you are new to betting and simply want the ability to pick winners for sports events, I would recommend a standard bookmaker like Sportsbet. If, however, you already have a few betting accounts and are looking for more exposure to sports betting, I highly recommend you add Betfair to your portfolio of memberships.