Sunday, 23 October 2011

Betfair In The News

Analyst lets the cat out of the bag

Industry observers focused on a note from analysts at Numis Securities earlier this week which revealed that online betting exchange Betfair plc is planning to introduce a fixed odds betting facility in the second quarter of 2012. The new product will run alongside the company's traditional exchange product, giving punters a wider choice.

The note opined: If Betfair came to dominate fixed odds sports betting, in the same way it currently dominates overall sports betting, then it has the potential to more than double group profits.

The calculations are highly speculative. The new system could let Betfair tap into the advantages offered by fixed-odds betting, such as greater selection, earlier bets & more multiple wagers.

The move follows an announcement by the company back in April this year that it had launched live dealer gambling to its internet casino operation, using Playtech technology & beamed in real time from studios in Riga, Latvia (see previous report).
Betfair’s Exposure of ‘X Factor’ Scam Shows Need to Fight Cheats By David Altaner
Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Betfair Group Plc’s system, in which customers bet against each other online, has been singled out by rivals as potentially making it easier for cheats to use inside information. The company’s response is to cite the “X Factor.”

In April, the U.K.’s Gambling Commission found three Virgin Media Inc. employees had misused access to company data on telephone voting on last year’s edition of the television talent show to bet on which contestant would be eliminated. They were caught after Betfair flagged suspicious betting patterns.

“If they’re trying to hide their identity, they can’t do that at Betfair,” said Susannah Gill, a Betfair spokeswoman. “All our systems are online, unlike traditional bookmakers. We know exactly who our customer is, where their bank account is. We can provide that to sport.”

While all betting companies have a clear interest in combating cheats, for Betfair the stakes may be even higher. The online gambling company’s betting exchange system, which allows betting on a horse to lose, is unfamiliar enough abroad to make it a tricky sell to regulators, making it harder for Betfair to expand abroad. The system isn’t allowed in France or Italy.

“This is a relatively new product, it’s not well understood outside the U.K.,” said Geetanjali Sharma, an analyst with Espirito Santo who has a “sell” recommendation on Betfair. “It is extremely important they monitor betting patterns to ensure there’s no match fixing, no money laundering, no collusion.”

European Regulation

Betfair and competitors including Ladbrokes Plc hunt evidence of suspicious betting to help regulators. To grow, European gambling companies need countries such as Spain, Greece and Germany to approve betting rules flexible enough to let them make a profit. To help sway officials, they set up monitoring systems to hunt evidence of cheating and match fixing, said David Forrest, a University of Salford economist.

“Everyone’s very keen to be good corporate citizens, because everyone wants to persuade the courts and the European Commission,” said Forrest, who studies match rigging. “They’re all saying they should be the one to protect consumers -- that’s the great battle over betting in Europe.”

Concerns about betting and game fixing are growing, as the World Lottery Association estimates that illegal gambling is $90 billion worldwide. Two Pakistani cricket players are on trial in London on charges of conspiring to take bribes to fix plays in a Test match against England last year.

Of 197 cases of suspicious betting logged with the Gambling Commission between September 2007 and March 2011, 125 were reported by betting companies, according to licensing body data.

X Factor

In the ‘X Factor’ case, the commission voided bets totaling more than 16,000 pounds ($25,200) after Betfair’s integrity team, which can monitor up to 6 million transactions daily, reported suspicious betting patterns. The outcome of the competition last year, won by singer Matt Cardle, wasn’t affected, the commission said.

Betfair has eight people monitoring bets in London and four in Hobart, Tasmania, while Ladbrokes gives the job to its traders, who set odds. William Hill Plc wouldn’t give details, referring questions to the company’s annual report.

Match fixers generally avoid markets such as the U.K., where data is reported to regulators and sports bodies, according to Detlev Zenglein, head of competition analysis at Early Warning System, which monitors sports betting for FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.

However they may be tempted to wager on Betfair because of the appeal of betting against another customer, who may not be as well informed as a bookmaker, he said.

The company itself is “quite open with us; good collaborators,” Zenglein said.


Betfair takes a 2 percent to 5 percent fee on customer wins, while traditional bookmakers win when their customers lose and vice versa.

“The consumer doesn’t know who they’re betting against,” said Mike O’Kane, business director for Harrow, England-based Ladbrokes, of Betfair’s system. “You could be betting against somebody who knows something.”

Betfair officials say the company’s systems provide better information than traditional bookmakers, where a wager could be in cash registered on a paper slip at a bet shop.

“Setting up a Betfair account is like setting up a bank account,” Gill said. “We have all the information on you your bank does, which makes hiding corruption in sports incredibly difficult.”

The company’s data can be particularly useful to regulators, because it can point to whether people with inside information are wagering, said Paul Scotney, director of integrity services and licensing at the British Horseracing Authority.

“You can’t know a horse is going to win; you can know it’s going to lose,” he said.
Betfair takes a 2 percent to 5 percent fee on customer wins?

I wish!

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