Betfair are not your typical bookmaker or sportsbook operator, instead of betting against the house, at Betfair, they match you up with another gambler who is willing to take your bet. This means that you can, within reason, get the odds you want. In any rate, you can often get better odds than in some of the more traditional bookies.

How does it work?

Betfair have developed their own software to act as a betting exchange, bringing together punters that want to take the opposite sides of a bet. This means that you can go on the exchange and offer the odds that you want and as long as someone takes you up on it, you can make the bet. This is very different to the traditional bookmaker, whose teams of statisticians and experts will decide what odds to offer, and that’s what you get.

So, down to the details. On Betfair, you can either back or lay an outcome. If you back it, you are saying that you think it’s likely to happen, where as if you lay an outcome, you think it won’t. When you go on Betfair’s site and look up an event, you will see the best prices currently being offered on the exchange to both back and lay the outcome. There are also a number of tools on the site to show you your potential winnings or liability.

Once you’ve made a bet, it goes off to the exchange and Betfair try to match it up with another better. It doesn’t count until the software manages to match the bet, and until it does you can cancel it. Instead of making money on lost bets, Betfair takes a commission from each transaction that goes through their exchange.

Other Services

In addition to their betting exchange, Betfair also offer a number of other gambling services which you can access with the same account, though you need to transfer funds between the different services in order to do so.


Betfair’s online casino utilises Chartwell software for instant play and Playtech software for its downloadable casino. Both are top of the line, reputable providers, indeed, Playtech have tie ups with major franchises such as with Marvel Comics.

It’s also unusual in that Betfair has what they refer to as their “zero lounge���. These are games where they’ve eliminated the house margin. For those of you who aren’t sure what that means, casinos will usually slightly alter the odds of certain games in their favour, but not by much. This is enough so as not to significantly affect the gameplay, but over time it means that the casinos ensure that they win.


Betfair offer many more services to their members. Powered by Polco, their poker client software is a free download, and as you would expect, you can take part in regular tournaments and competitions. Betfair’s exchange games are regular casino table games (such as Blackjack and Baccarat) but instead you are betting on the outcome of a game played by the computer, much in the same way as you would bet on a horse race. Finally, you can also use Betfair for spreadbetting on financial instruments and similar.

Is it safe?

You may be wondering, if I’m betting against someone else, what if I win and they don’t have enough money to pay me? Well, that’s kind of where Betfair comes in, rather than you making a bet with a random from your local pub. Before you or anyone else can place a bet on the exchange, you need to have sufficient funds to do so, which means that you don’t have to worry about non-payment as Betfair are holding it until the outcome is settled.

You can also take comfort from the fact that Betfair have been operating their exchange successfully since 1999, and forgetting any awards that may be awarded by gambling review sites, Betfair have won the Queens Award for Enterprise in 2 separate years so far – a prize given out by the Queen, after nomination by the Prime Minister and being assessed by the BIS (formerly DTI) – not many other sites can claim that.