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Ask the MDs – Betfair Q&A

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By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:00
Tennis matches are often taken inplay before the players have even walked onto court.  They often go inplay when the preceding match has finished, which can be 20+ minutes before the match begins.  This even happens on main courts in Grand Slam events.  It has a significantly negative effect on my betting.  Why does this happen and what will you do to ensure all matches go inplay when the first serve is delivered and no sooner?

For televised and Live Video matches we would always try and turn the match In-Play just prior to the first serve.  However, some Live Score sites which we use for a large proportion of our In-Play Tennis product can be fairly unreliable and so these matches are offered In-Play early to ensure the start isn’t missed.  However, we are in the process of acquiring a new data feed which we expect to be in place by February and hence this issue should be resolved for next season.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:02
Can you explain the reasoning behind being eligible for Transaction Charges when over 1000 bets are placed in an hour? It states under Betfair Charges that this is to deter extreme usage.

The reason for the transaction charge is to ensure site stability by deterring unnecessary transactions. By having some threshold, we encourage customers to make their trading as efficient as possible.

1000 bets an hour relates to, on average, 1 bet every 4 seconds or 16 bets in a minute, which I don't see as being extreme, especially when 20 data requests can be sent in 1 second before being eligible for a Data Request Charge.
I would have thought an example of extreme usage would be placing one thousand bets in a few seconds, but that seems to be acceptable, if done the once in an hour.


The average customer will never place more than 1000 bets in an hour, and from this perspective we quantify 1000 bets per hour as extreme usage. We understand that at the top end of the spectrum we have the “power users” who are automatically placing many bets across multiple markets simultaneously. The important thing to remember here is that transaction charge is offset by any commission generated across the day. What this means is that customers are able to place over 1000 bets an hour as long as some of them are getting matched. At 3% commission any bet over the threshold which increases exposure/potential winnings by 17p will generate enough commission to offset the 1p of transaction charge incurred. Our goal is not to restrict our customers betting, but to minimise the number of unnecessary transactions.

Third Party applications have tools which can place many bets in short periods but I find the Transaction Charge restricts me.

Some third party apps have the ability to set limits on the number of bets placed, but make sure that you are not over restricting yourself by not accounting for the commission offset. To reiterate, commission generated (commission paid + 3% of market losses)÷2 accrued across the whole day (not just the hour in which transaction charge is applicable) is used to offset the charge.

For example, a customer on 3% commission who wins £300 on one market and loses £200 on another will generate (£300x3% + £200x3%)÷2 = £7.5 commission. This £7.5 in commission generated is enough to offset £7.5 of transaction charge, which is equivalent to an additional 750 bets over the 1000bets/hr threshold.

Surely Betfair does not want to turn away business unnecessarily. Maybe increasing the number of bets in an hour is a possibility?

We have no immediate plans to change the charge, but it is something that we are looking at – If we could remove the charge at no risk to site performance then we would do it immediately. The commission offset is there to ensure that we are not deterring activity that generates matched bets.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:04
Acca’s/Cash Out - With all the money you spend advertising Cash out, are you worried with the amount of times it’s gone wrong?. Don’t say it’s because a goal has gone in etc.. there have been some serious issues with it. Are you even aware of this?

We are aware of some technical problems since we launched Cash Out on the Sportsbook and our teams have been working hard to fix them. For example we have made improvements to ensure that Cash Out is available as late as possible in a game, with many customers now able to Cash Out well into injury time. We've also made improvements to the load that the system can cope with to prevent some of the problems our customers experienced.

However, as always, if there is an event which causes a material change in the outcome of the match a game will be suspended. The chance of this increases with each additional leg that you place in a multiple. So that if you have an eight leg accumulator with all the games kicking off at the same time you will have a reduced amount of chances to Cash Out whilst the games are in play. 

Hopefully you will have noticed that we have improved the messaging displayed when suspended so it’s clearer as to the reason why.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:05
Do you feel threatened by the recent European gambling regulations, which have caused you to abandon huge markets as Spain, Germany.. Do feel yourself shrinking back to UK?

We are certainly not shrinking back to the UK, opportunities in other countries are a key part of Betfair’s strategy for growth. Although we have had to pull out from some jurisdictions for regulatory reasons in the recent past we have also seen opportunities develop.  For example, in Italy where exchanges were regulated this year and we expect to go live soon. We also hope that we will obtain an exchange licence in Spain in the coming year.  Around Europe the trend is for increased regulation of online gambling and that presents opportunities which Betfair should be in a position to benefit from.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:06
Why do you persist in offering so many meaningless in running football games where there are is buttons matched?

The Exchange works hard to strike the right balance between offering customers choice and having viable markets.  The number of markets offered on the Exchange has increased over the last number of years.  Some of these markets can be very active for some games, and then relatively quiet for others.  With the advent of the Sportsbook, we now have the choice to retire the consistently illiquid markets from the Exchange.  Any such amendments will be done prudently, but expect to see changes soon.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:06
Do you bet on your markets? If not, why not, knowing that you have a profile of you client's bets, you know how the big winners act, putting you in a privileged position to do so...

Betfair does make markets on the Exchange from time to time in order to provide early/extra liquidity, however this is ALWAYS done on equal terms.  We categorically do not use privileged information like a specific customer's betting patterns or account information to determine volumes and prices.  This is very much a bright line issue and there are no instances where such behaviour would be acceptable.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:08
Monitor the forums and suspend the abusive idiots who readily throw personal criticism at other posters for the sake of it.

Bullying, harassment and being downright unpleasant is not what the Betfair forum is about and will not be tolerated. The Forum is not actively managed so we rely on the community to bring such matters to our attention. Anyone who feels they are on the receiving end should let us know by using our ‘report’ facility for threads and posts or by emailing forum@betfair.com.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:09
As most major football matches are managed in real time and not using TV pictures as in previous years, why is there a need for an 8 second delay on bet processing on major matches?  Surely a five second delay would be more than sufficient and would help increase liquidity.

We us a variety of TV and data feeds to manage our In-Play Football product but even those live from the stadium can have latency issues.  Furthermore, there are many major leagues including the Champions League where TV pictures are our only reliable feed and from constant testing we believe that an 8 second bet delay is the minimum for us to be certain that customers are protected.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:09
Can somebody explain why in some football matches there are so many fake suspensions? Who or what drives his?

We use a number of TV and data feeds to manage our In-Play Football product and our aim is to only suspend markets if we believe a goal has been scored or a red card or penalty will be awarded.  Given we offer upwards of 1,000 In-Play fixtures per week there are occasions when we encounter issues with our data feeds and therefore have to suspend markets to protect customers.  We constantly work with our TV and data providers to ensure these are kept to a minimum and will continue to look at alternative feeds as back-up should one fail.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:11
In June 2011 Betfair introduced a customer commitment charter setting out 14 “customer promises” across five key areas. You stated at the time you would provide data every three months indicating your performance against these targets. This data has now not been updated since November 2012, with all references to the customer charter now no longer on your site.

a.    Do you no longer consider the customer commitment charter important, or has the idea now been completely disbanded?
b.    Can you explain your reasoning for not updating the data or choosing to no longer honour this commitment?
c.    If you have chosen to no longer honour this charter, can you explain why you felt it was not necessary to communicate this decision to your customers. (is it not somewhat ironic to choose to not communicate this when the customer commitment was provided so that you could communicate transparent and timely feedback?)
d.    With particular reference to the section of the charter outlining acceptable levels of availability of the exchange, can you confirm that you never once met your target level during the period you reported for (up to November 2012) and have not met that target since then. (as you’ll struggle to find the detail of this particular commitment on your site, I’ll help you by reminding you that the target was 99.9% uptime)
e.    Do you still have internal targets for exchange availability and do you intend to communicate this and your performance to your customers in the future.


Thank you for the question.  Your observations are certainly fair.

Betfair reported performance against the customer charter for over 1 year.  During this time, customer interest in the charter was very low.  In a nutshell, customers told us that promising to do things right is not as good as simply doing things right.  As a result, the charter has not been updated in over a year, and instead, we are simply focussing on doing things right.  We are currently evaluating how to take this forward.

In terms of Exchange Availability, most recent numbers are:  Oct – 99.8%, Nov – 99.7%.  We do not regard this performance as acceptable.  Furthermore, we recognise that performance at peak times (e.g. 3pm on Saturday) is not what it should be.  We share your pain, and don’t like working at weekends either.  Addressing platform stability at 3pm on a Saturday is our #1 priority
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:13
The liquidity in greyhound markets seems to have dropped significantly in recent months - do you know the reason why?

Thanks for your feedback Ian. On the whole, matched volumes have been fairly consistent over the last 3 months, with a spike around the RPGTV meetings. We will continue to monitor this closely however.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:16
Do you plan to open any shops?  Perhaps if you did and stocked them with some fobts then perhaps the revenue generated could then be used to revise the commission structure.

Betfair is an online operator operating across multiple jurisdictions; opening physical betting shops is not part of our business model at present.  Betfair's commission structure is determined by a multitude of factors.  It is something we take very seriously and is kept under constant review.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:18
Why do we not get discounts on Betfair sponsored events especially those who pay a fortune in PC? Much better imo than spending a fortune on giving out free scarves

We appreciate that there will always be demand for our hospitality, unfortunately we don’t have the number of tickets to cater for all our customers. Though we do attempt to make these available to as many customers as possible.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:20
Why is it that you cannot provide faster and more reliable streaming of UK horseracing to protect and enhance in running

Betfair was the first company to offer in running betting and it remains one of our standout product offerings.  We are well aware that pictures streamed as live are often somewhat delayed - you will have seen them many warnings of this fact on our website.  In our experience the pictures with among the lowest latency is actually Betfair's Live Video service.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:21
Are you worried about Matchbooks 0% commission offer?

0% commission is certainly an interesting offer and only serves to reconfirm what a highly competitive business sports betting is.  We have the utmost respect for all of our competitors, it would be foolhardy not to.  In response, over the coming years we intend to compete harder than ever for your business. It is worth noting that we are also conducting price promotions, for example we currently charge 0.75% commission for Asian Handicap bets.  We are also running a trial exempting premium charges for La Liga football and Rugby betting.  We plan to conduct further such promotions and trials in the future.
By:
Betfair Customer Services
When: 19 Dec 13 19:27
when will be able to bet on RPGTV races thru the Sportsbook with industry prices on multiples etc

We recently launched our Greyhound product on the Sportsbook and to date have focused our efforts on covering BAGS and Live Sky meetings. Going forward we will be enhancing this to cover more meetings and increasing the range of bet types that we offer.
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