etfair is taking on traditional bookmakers at their own game by launching a fixed-odds betting service in time for the Euro 2012 football tournament.The betting exchange operator, whose peer-to-peer gambling revolutionised the industry, has long acknowledged that it is at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to offering bets in running or “ante-post” wagers, where traditional bookies can price up an event months before it takes place.
That is because the peer-to-peer betting model generally only builds liquidity close to an event and struggles to offer fast bets “in play” on such things as the outcome of a penalty shoot-out or a Wimbledon tie-break. By installing its own fixed-odds platform, Betfair believes it can cater for all the betting needs of its 4m customers, who currently place 30 % of their wagers with rivals because of the exchange model’s limitations.
The new fixed-odds site has been developed by OpenBet, the software group behind similar sportsbooks at William Hill, Paddy Power and SkyBet. OpenBet has provided various technology to Betfair since 2008.
Available in English, Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Swedish and Danish, Betfair revealed that its Euro 2012 mobile application also comes complete with editorial and statistical content while a news feed is accessible by swiping to the right from the landing screen. “Again, users can navigate directly to markets with just one click from within the articles,” read a statement from Betfair.
Nick Hagen, Betfair’s sports operations director, said: “We know from our own research that we lose 30% of our customers’ sports betting wallet to the competition. Why should customers have to go elsewhere and why would we willingly let this large chunk of business walk out the door?” He said that “thanks to some clever design work on the website and the growth of our internal trading team”, Betfair’s punters will be able to “toggle” between the exchange and the fixed-odds platform. Betfair has been testing the new service in Cyprus.
Hagen acknowledged that there was additional risk in fixed odds. He said customers and shareholders are bound to ask: “Are we going to lose our shirt?”
However, he said Betfair had built a new Dublin-based trading team, headed by former Ladbrokes executive Craig Mucklow, and was not new to risk products as it already offers some permutation bets.
David Loveday, OpenBet’s chief executive, said: “We think this will help Betfair penetrate new markets. There are certain markets that don’t really know what an exchange is. Offering fixed-odds will give them a way in.” Ivor Jones, an analyst at Numis, said Betfair’s new service would “dramatically expand the range of bets available”.