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Betfair happy hour: counter-productive responses to the matter


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Betfair happy hour: counter-productive responses to the matter


I was set thinking again about the Betfair happy hour fiasco while visiting the London Affiliate Conference two weeks ago, where a session led by the GPWA included five minutes of panel discussion on the matter.


Betfair has been condemned in many quarters, and rightly so - their incompetent handling of the matter from start to finish would make a fairground sideshow look like a global political summit in comparison. However, another substantial aspect, alongside the payment issue, has been the clarion call to boycott / delist / "rogue" Betfair, typified by the Casinomeister rogue entry, which concludes with this homily:



Avoid this casino at all costs.



Avoid Betfair "at all costs"? Let's have a look at the wider picture.


In terms of gambling services provided, Betfair is the best operation on the internet that I'm aware of. There are two main products on offer - sportsbetting and casino. Let's have a look at both.


Sportsbetting is offered on the exchange, a marketplace where customers buy and sell odds between themselves rather than having to accept whatever the house is offering. As the offers represent market value, they are superior to the odds offered by traditional bookmakers: where Betfair offers odds of 6 on an underdog, a bookmaker offers 5.5; where Betfair offers 1.8 on a favourite, the bookie offers 1.6. And so on.

Betting at an exchange rather than a bookmaker will always see a better return to the customer. Of course, Betfair doesn't have a monopoly on the exchange concept - both Betdaq and Matchbook offer similar products. However, they remain in the top tier of quality odds providers.


The Betfair casino is unique. Although a standard Playtech setup for the most part, the four games compromising the Zero Lounge represent casino gambling with no house commission at all and no theoretical loss to the player, provided that the two skill-based games, blackjack and video poker, are played with optimum strategy. This is a one-of-a-kind product which is on offer nowhere else that I'm aware of.


So, in short: for sports bettors and casino gamblers, Betfair offers the best odds anywhere on the internet. So what is achieved by recommending that players do not patronise the operation / delisting them?


There is a substantial downside in this for recreational gamblers, as consequently there will be less opportunity for them to find their way to the quality odds they offer, with the inevitable result that they will lose more money by patronising operations offering lower value. It's therefore disadvantageous, from this aspect, to "avoid this casino at all costs".


Is there an upside? The usual reason for delisting a gambling operation is to either protect the customer from a disreputable pattern of behaviour or simply to send out a general message that bad behaviour is unacceptable. Betfair has learned from its mistake and will never again offer an unlimited bonus, so there's nothing to protect the customer from in this instance. That leaves the creditable stand against bad behaviour, but since here it offers nothing tangible and sacrifices so much in practical terms as far as Betfair and quality odds goes, it appears to be misguided - you don't take a principled stand on the one hand when it directly disadvantages the customer on the other.


My opinion is that delisting Betfair is a counter-productive kneejerk reaction which offers little and takes away a lot. Much better to give gamblers all relevant information - tell them where they can play, what they can expect and everything that's happened there. They can then make informed decisions with all the available information.



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