If you bet on exchanges, the chances are you use Betfair and, equally as likely, you've always thought that there wasn't really much of an alternative. Well, for a good number of years, that was indeed the case.
But if there was a prize for persistence, then Dermot Desmond, Irish serial entrepreneur, deserves it for his efforts to challenge Betfair's perceived monopoly stranglehold of the betting exchange market.
Betdaq has been known to 'seed' its markets since its inception. That is, the company has added liquidity to the betting pools in order to make it more attractive to bettors. And that's a strategy that appears to be paying off.
Close inspection of the odds to trade each morning on UK racing show that there is little to choose between the two sites any more. Indeed, on many horses/races, there is both a bigger volume to trade and better odds to back on Betdaq in the morning.
But how is the exchange to use, and why open an account there, rather than just stick with 'good old' Betfair?
Firstly, how easy is Betdaq to use?Â
Well, if you have pop-up blockers disabled, it's very easy. If not, you'll need to do that (or create an exception in your browser), in order to complete the registration process. It took me about five minutes to register a new account last night, and in a minute I'll tell you why I did that.
As far as identifying markets goes, it's pretty familiar, only in purple rather than blue. Essentially, Betdaq has a very similar interface to its rival, although with slightly less sports available, it is more navigable as there's no need to scroll down if the event you wish to wager begins with a letter towards the end of the alphabet. (Is it just me who gets irritated by that?!)
Indeed, the 'purple' interface is set up with footy at the top, then horse racing, then cricket, tennis, golf, etc. In other words, it's order is defined by the most popular sports, which makes sense.
The sub-menu's are exactly the same as 'the other exchange', so you'll find your way around pronto.
I find it extremely easy to use, and if you're familiar with Betfair then this will hold no fears whatsoever.
I've got an exchange account already. So why should I open an account?
There are numerous reasons, actually, some of which are temporary and advantageous right now. And others are simply good practice in a number of situations. Let's deal with those in reverse order.
Firstly, Betdaq allows a minimum stake of 50p. Now if you bet a lot more than that, then that's neither here nor there. But for those who have been ostracised by the Â£2 minimum stake on Betfair (ignoring the rather tedious and convaluted workaround), then this offers better odds to everyone.
Which brings me onto to my second point. As a consequence of the rise in liquidity on Betdaq, there are now plenty of instances every day when the available prices there are better than at Betfair. True, sometimes the liquidity is limited and this is something you need to keep an eye on event by event, as you would when checking the odds with an odds comparison site, like the wonderful odds.geegeez.co.uk 😉
In fact, there is an option there to instantly compare exchange odds only, as per the screenshot below:
Thirdly, no exchange, betting site, or website for that matter, has 100% uptime. This can be excruciating if you're in a position that you wanted to trade out of and your exchange goes down. This happens, and it happens on a Saturday afternoon as well!
A way to insure yourself against such a precarious prospect is to have a second account. Sure, you'll need to fund both, but that's a good bit better than staring down the barrel if you're a trader.
"But Matt, why are you mentioning this now?"
Good question! Two reasons, actually. Firstly, I know that an increasing number of people are getting fed up with shoddy treatment from 'the boys in blue' exchange, especially in light of their draconian trading taxes.
This is leading to... well, not exactly an exodus, but certainly a backlash, and Betdaq are the key beneficiaries via the aforementioned enhanced liquidity/more competitive odds. Incidentally, it goes without saying that you're looking at an odds benefit over traditional bookies in line of that with Betfair: in other words, between 10 and 30% depending on where in the odds range you're playing at.
The second reason, which I discovered a couple of days ago, is that Betdaq are really upping their game in search of new customers, and therefore better odds for all in their exchange.
To that end, they're not only offering 2.5% commission on all bets until the end of 2011 - which is 50% less than you'll pay elsewhere and renders their odds better in most all cases, at the top end of the market - but they're also giving up to Â£200 in free bets away as well.*
Although halving your commission rate might sound trivial, let me exemplify why it's important. The below is a summary table of 201 bets, with a 1 in 3 strike rate at average odds of 9/4 (or 3.25 in exchange speak).
*As always, there are conditions which apply here, and I've reproduced them below, in italics.
â‚¬/Â£200 Free Bet Terms and Conditions: â€¢ To avail of the â‚¬/Â£200 free bet promotion customers must enter code ALLBDQ03 at registration. â€¢ On paying â‚¬/Â£25 in commission a qualifying customer will be given a â‚¬/Â£25 free bet. â€¢ For each additional â‚¬/Â£100 in commission paid, the customer will be given an additional free bet of â‚¬/Â£25 until a cumulative total of â‚¬/Â£200 in free bets has been awarded. â€¢ Accounts which have met qualifying conditions will have free bets credited within 72 hours. â€¢ Free Bets balances cannot be withdrawn until they have been bet with at odds of 1.5 or greater. â€¢ Members cannot match free bets with themselves.Â
What about the bits and bobs of admin?
Betdaq accommodates the usual array of deposit methods, from posting a cheque, to debit and credit cards, to bank transfers, to 'ewallets' such as netTeller and moneybookers. Note, Betdaq doesn't support PayPal, probably because like most of the rest of us, they can't get an account!
The payment processing has the level of robustness you'd expect from a site dealing in millions of pounds of online transactions per day, so no frets on that score.
Online help is good, though I've no idea whether the human intervention type (i.e. phone/email support) is any cop. Hopefully, I'll never need to know.
In this day and age of choice, I know that many (indeed, most) of you have numerous bookmaker accounts in order to avail of best prices, best odds guaranteed, money-back specials, and so on. Quite right too!
But it's more akin to personal banking on the exchange front, as whilst 70% of respondents stated they had a Betfair account, less than 20% have any other exchange account.
Now is an ideal time to address that, and to take advantage of a real incentive in the shape of 2.5% commission. To be honest, I'm not even especially bothered about the free bets - they'll arrive in due course. But I know that halving my commission makes a massive difference over time.
I don't like giving money away needlessly, and Betfair in my opinion have enough (although their ailing shareholders may disagree). So I'm more than happy to take advantage of the commission differential for at least the next three months and, if my experience is a positive one and the odds acceptable, it's possible that I may finish up with a new first choice exchange.
Time will tell on that, but for now, I'm betting with the purple firm over the blue one whenever the odds are in my favour. And, given the commission differential, that's most of the time!