Saturday 18 October 2008

Betfair Apologises

About eight months after sneakily introducing 'cross-matching', Betfair apologises, apparently after a slap on the wrist from the Gambling Commission.

Cross matching basically meant that Betfair were matching customer A with themselves, and then themselves with customer B at two different prices, taking advanatge of the fact that quite often in fast moving markets such as tennis, someone will want to back player X at say 1.5 where 1.49 is available as a lay on player Y.

In breach of their terms and conditions where they say they will match you at the best price available, Betfair gave you the 1.5 you asked for, but then 'cross-matched' your bet at the 1.49 giving that customer the price they asked for, but pocketing the difference.

Apparently this little scam netted Betfair the not insignificant sum of £300,000 in just a few weeks.

"Cross matching was introduced without informing customers in advance. BGB [Befair General Betting] made revenues of approximately £300,000 from the inception of cross matching until the end of March 2008."

During an online discussion with Betfair Customer Services on March 19th, user "askari1" asked the reasonable question:

How much money has the engine / arber made for Betfair so far? If commerical confidentiality prevents you from quoting a figure, could you give some indication in terms of the total turned over on a typical event e.g a televised tennis match and / or the typical post-game commission taken by Betfair?

The answer was, at best, grossly misleading: "The biggest market the new code has operated on was the televised tennis match between Andy Murray and Roger Federer a couple of weeks ago. Approximately £6.85 million was matched in the market, and the amount accrued as a result of our inability to offer a price improvement when bets were matched across the two players was £882.91 . Obviously in well-traded markets like a big tennis match the amounts won and lost by customers are much less than the headline volume figure too, but as a percentage of what’s won or lost in each market the amount is small"

A few comments.

With blatantly misleading statements like this, it is hard to believe anything that Betfair says any more.

Will we be seeing an apology (and refunds) from Betfair in a few months for introducing a Premium Charge that is absolutely impossible to verify is correct and which will vary depending on just who happens to be active in ones losing markets - a factor that we have no control over?

How can Betfair justify removing £300,000 from the exchange with zero risk to themselves as ok, but winners who make profits after taking risks are penalised heavily?

Are the Gambling Commission investigating the introduction of the Premium Charge?


Anonymous said...

drop me an email mister cassini.

The Gambler.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for the Gambling Commission to investigate and actually do something about the Premium Charge (I hope I'm wrong though). Both the Gambling Commission and Betfair are an absolute disgrace. Betfair for the way they have treated their customers with complete and utter contempt, and the Gambling Commission for allowing them to do so.

In the Gambling Commission's comment on cross matching, they state that: 'One of the Commission's objectives is to secure that gambling is conducted fairly and openly.' ( and yet there is absolutely no indication on a market that cross matching is in operation, you may have no idea that your bet has been cross matched, and you have no idea how much money Betfair have just made as a result of the cross matching. They have also blatantly lied about the amounts they are skimming from the markets as a result of this. So much for fair and open.

Of course, Betfair have taken this lack of transparency to a whole new level with the abomination that is their Premium Charge.

I never thought I would say this, but I hope the recent actions of Betfair lead to it's demise and that fairer and more open exchanges replace it with charging structures that you can understand, or at least be able to see why you are being charged what you are.

Cassini said...

You are preaching to the choir my friend. Thanks for adding your comment.