Betfair, with its instantly recognizable yellow-black corporate colour scheme, is as famous – and as rich – as any of the big high street bookmakers that have been part of the fabric of British life since the 1960s.
The fact that it has achieved so much since its launch in 1999 comes down to real innovation. It was the first company to bring a viable player-to-player betting exchange to the market – a safe, stable and usable platform that allowed punters around the world to back or lay bets against one another from their PCs.
It’s what punters were crying out for, creating greater value and flexibility, and forcing traditional bookies to slash their profits. Since then it has joined ranks with Paddy Power to create the biggest gambling brand in the UK, and become a traditional bookmaker in its own right.
So, now it is part of the establishment – a FTSE 100 company, no less – is Betfair still what it set out to be? And, either way, is it worth your time?
Safety and Trustworthiness
Betfair has earned the kind of household-name status that means that few customers will give a second’s thought to issues like trust, safety and fund security.
In short, Betfair seems to be considered too big to be bad. The fact that it started life as a “players first” betting platform almost certainly contributes to the general goodwill towards the brand, too.
And overall, the evidence tells us that Betfair should be trusted by customers. It has been in the business as long as any of its competitors, and it’s a tightly run ship. Fund safety has never been an issue with Betfair, and following the 2016 mega-merger that created the Paddy Power Betfair colossus, there seems even less threat of any banking or fairness issues now.
It has licenses from the Malta Gaming Authority and the UK Gambling Commission. As a condition of its British licensing, Betfair is a member of IBAS (the Independent Betting Adjudication Service), which provides third-party dispute resolution services to UK punters.
Betfair suffered a painful blow to its reputation back in 2010, when its reaction to a financially disastrous promotion (you may have heard mention of the infamous “Happy Hour”) was to ignore player complaints and confiscate associated winnings. It has suffered no further blemishes to its otherwise spotless reputation, and, if anything, seems to have redoubled its focus on customer fairness and complaint resolution as a result of the fallout.
Deposits & Withdrawals
When it comes to getting your money in and out of your sportsbook wallet, Betfair will make you feel as comfortable as possible, allowing you to use pretty much any payment method you can think of.
Betfair is earning new fans each and every day, so it only makes sense that the brand expands its horizons. Fans of mobile betting can get a seamless handheld fix through Betfair, as they make a mobile site, iOS app, and Android app available. All three of these options more or less operate the same way, which is fine by us.
Betfair’s handheld offering is easily one of the most complete options on the market today, even if it isn’t quite perfect.
Not only is the market choice up there with the very best, but the platform is packed with impressive features. For example, the live scores service is great for staying on top of your accumulators. The only real complaint we have with Betfair mobile is that it isn’t always the easiest to get around. In this regard, a few small tweaks here and there could help elevate it to the level occupied by the likes of Sky Bet and Bet365.
Where other sports betting brands have fallen short, Betfair has picked up the slack to create a really enjoyable handheld betting platform, which could easily go on to become something special.
Free Bet Offer
The free bets offer at Betfair stands at £30, contingent on just a £10 deposit. If you deposit over £20, you can also bag an additional bonus of a £20 risk-free bet on the Betfair Exchange platform. The wagering requirement is set at just 3x, and on events with odds of 1/5 (1.20) or greater – a much more manageable level than some others we’ve seen.
Betfair also offers enhanced odds on selected sporting events, with winnings paid out in free bets. In totality, these represent a good combination of rewards and bonuses for new and loyal players, particularly with the reasonable wagering requirements. It’s also worth noting that the minimum odds for the free bets offer of just 1.20 are amongst the lowest you’ll find.
As one of the most reputable players in this market, it’s good to see Betfair offering such a comparatively generous deal compared to some other free bet offers. And with just a £10 bet required, it’s possible for any new user to enjoy the benefits of Betfair’s free bets offer.
Betting Markets and Odds Quality
Betfair offers a great choice of UK betting markets, with football, racing and tennis especially popular on the Exchange side of things. Expect to find hundreds of ever-changing markets, both pre-event and in-play.
As the world’s most popular betting exchange, there’s plenty of niche sports, non-sporting events, and special markets on offer, with the liquidity necessary to keep things viable. This liquidity issue is one that other exchanges run into constantly, so Betfair’s ability to provide such a vibrant player-to-player platform shouldn’t be taken lightly. The value is certainly there on this side of the equation, and Betfair’s 5-7% commission is fair enough, you just need to take the plunge, which we know isn’t for everyone. See our guide on betting exchanges vs bookmakers if you need a primer on this topic.
Of course, you can easily jump from the Exchange to the Sportsbook, where the grand total of 32 sports to bet on puts Betfair in a solid if unspectacular position among the elite bookies.
You can select what you’re looking for from the drop-down menu at the top of the site, and from there drill down to individual countries and leagues around the world. The depth is really good, and it’s very easy to see what events are in-play and what’s coming up next.
Odds quality at the Sportsbook is competitive but cannot be counted upon to be the best around on a consistent basis. At the time of writing, Betfair was offering 6/5 on Bayern Munich to defeat Arsenal in the second leg of their '17 Champions League tie, while a handful of other bookies had 5/4 on offer for the same outcome. Hardly an open-and-shut case, especially as it can usually go either way with most of the leading pack of bookies, but the Sportsbook arm is aimed at “fun punters” not serious ones, who should be seeking the real value in the Exchange.
Where Betfair does shine is in the promotions and specials that bring extra value both on the Sportsbook and the Exchange. We like the “Double odds on winning goalscorer bets” offer that pays out double when a player scores a second goal. Betfair also offers a similar promo on “First Tryscorer” bets on Six Nations rugby betting.
As you may have gathered from all of the above, Betfair has plenty going for it. This is further cemented by the in-play betting part of the site. The range of in-play markets really puts other similarly sized bookmakers (see Paddy Power and 10Bet) in the shade. When you select the ‘In-Play’ link on site you are shown a treasure trove of live betting options. Markets of all sports are covered here, from Premier League football all the way down to handball; through the live play betting options at Betfair you’ll always find yourself at the heart of the action.
Betfair really goes over and above on the in-play betting front, as the specials only sweeten the deal here. An additional word must go out to the actual platform. The UI allows you to jump between markets in a flash, while the live streaming options bring you that much closer to the sport of your choice.
The time has passed when a bookmaker could afford to gloss over the in-play aspect of the sports betting experience, but Betfair has done more than simply tick a box here. This is the measuring stick for live betting, and this aspect of the Betfair platform is a must-see.
Cash Out is also available on live football, tennis and racing bets, with a handy slider making it easy to perform partial cash outs of any profit you want to lock down.
When it comes to support, Betfair promise to typically answer your phone calls and live chat requests within 30 seconds and your emails within 2-4 hours. We haven’t done any scientific testing as yet (check back soon), but you won’t find many bookies making such bold claims.
The Final Word
There are few gambling companies that have as much prestige and good will as Betfair, and its sportsbook surely benefits greatly. The bookie has attracted plenty of customers who feel sure that their money and information are safe and that all winnings will be paid on time and with absolutely no issues.
Not only is Betfair a safe place to bet, but their ingenious promotions are another way of bringing new customers to the site and keeping them happy for a long time. We absolutely recommend taking advantage of those, as they are truly among the most generous in the industry.
Finally, the Betfair Sportsbook is one of the most versatile when it comes to the various betting markets you can place money on, and often the most generous as well, offering great odds for many events, especially on horse racing. In combination with their Exchange and other products, Betfair is one of the finest bookmakers in the industry.
Get in Touch
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