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Fixing a Hole

Betfair to launch fixed-odds website

Sports betting giant Betfair is evening the odds in “ante-post” wagers with a new fixed-odds betting website. The service is expected to be available by the start of the Euro 2012 football tournament.

Betfair, the world’s largest internet betting exchange, will challenge traditional bookmakers by offering running or “in play” bets on games, such as on penalties, ties or other wagers placed in real time. The London-based company’s peer-to-peer gambling model, an industry leader, could not handle the fast bets players demanded, losing the competitive edge to traditional bookies. The new fixed-odds platform will now accommodate Betfair’s 4 million customers, overcoming previous limitations.

“We know from our own research that we lose 30 percent of our customers’ sports betting wallet to the competition,” said Nick Hagen, Betfair’s sports operations director. “Why should customers have to go elsewhere, and why would we willingly let this large chunk of business walk out the door?”

According to Hagen, the “clever design work on the website” will allow users to “toggle” between the exchange and the fixed-odds platform.

Hagen credits his international trading team for leading the way, while acknowledging that there was additional risk in fixed odds to customers with so many new available bets. However, according to David Loveday, OpenBet’s chief executive, the platform will “help Betfair penetrate new markets. There are certain markets that don’t really know what an exchange is. Offering fixed-odds will give them a way in.”