BetFairs Annual Review 2006: How did the worlds #1 real-money prediction exchange (betting exchange) fare in 2005/2006?

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Pretty good, thank you. British betting expert Niall O’-Connor reports that “-Betfair has announced that during the year to 30 April 2006, it recorded year-on-year revenue growth of 35 per cent to ?144.7 million, with profits before tax up to ?37.8 million from ?23.1 million in 2005, an increase of 63 per cent.”-

More information: BetFair site – BetFair Corporate site – BetFair Annual Review 2006 (PDF) -

Highlights of BetFair Annual Review (the sub-titles and emphasis are mine):

1. Unlike TradeSports/InTrade, BetFair does not break U.S. laws.

In light of recent events in the United States we continue to monitor the situation. We wish to reiterate our well documented and long-standing policy of not accepting US customers, funds, or bets. For many years, we have followed industry best-practice to ensure that we are able to detect and block unwanted usage.

My Remark: A small number of U.S. residents has managed to open an account with BetFair, I’-ve heard, because they managed to prove some kind of residential or banking U.K. presence.

2. Compared to BetFair, TradeSports/InTrade and HedgeStreet look like kindergarten toys.

The size and scalability of the site is demonstrated by the fact that there were over 1.3 billion bets placed on the exchange in 2005, which is more than all the previous years’ totals added together. We now regularly handle over five million bets per day, serve two billion page impressions a week and more than ?2,000 a minute is deposited onto the site. We now employ over 900 staff across five main offices in West and North London, Denmark, Malta and Australia. While we are beginning to experience economies of scale in many operational areas, we continue to recruit heavily in IT, Product Management and International Development. These new hires will accelerate our product delivery and competitive advantage in the years ahead. Customer numbers are also impressive. In the past year we have doubled the number of registered customers, with over 900,000 by the end of the World Cup. The number of monthly actives increased from 95,000 to over 150,000 by April 2006 [...].

My Remark: Two bets make up for one transaction, right?

3. Unlike TradeSports, BetFair has signed agreements with sports bodies.

We continue to work closely with a number of sporting regulators, notably in horseracing, football and tennis, which highlights the importance of our information sharing agreements. A series of ‘-MoUs’- (Memorandum of Understanding) have been signed with sports bodies over the year, including the Rugby Football Union, Women’-s Tennis Association, International Tennis Federation, Belgian Football Association, British Darts Organisation, Racing Services Tasmania, Racing Victoria Limited and, most importantly in light of the World Cup, FIFA. This brings the total number of agreements we have with sports bodies worldwide to 24.

My Remark: Twenty four. Impressive.

4. Unlike TradeSports, BetFair has applied its trading technology to other applications.

The poker market is particularly competitive and therefore it is important that we expand our product portfolio and diversify our revenue streams. We acquired PokerChamps, a Danish-based poker platform, in October, and from August this year Betfair’-s entire Games portfolio has been hosted from Malta. We will continue to invest and improve the product to make it the most exciting poker offering. The Games offering was also extended with the launch of Exchange Baccarat [CFM: and recently Exchange Hi Lo], complementing exchange versions of Poker and Blackjack. These unique exchange-enabled products offer further opportunities for customers and reinforce our reputation for innovation.

My Remark: I’-m not (yet) persuaded that the BetFair Exchange Games is such a great killer ap. What I see is a small number of existing BetFair traders playing this stuff. In the coming months and years on this blog, I’-m going to elaborate on the X Universes, which is a concept that extent much further. If you’-re a universe creator, a techie, a VC or an exchange manager, stay tuned- the future will be fascinating in this area.

My Question To Robert Hahn And Paul Tetlock: Would your proposal, discussed in your paper and in your New York Times Op’-Ed, allow for one or some U.S.-based real-money prediction exchange(s) as POPULAR AND PROFITABLE as U.K.-based BetFair?

NEXT: The BetFair 2007 Annual Review = 2007 Results (ending April 30, 2007) – (PDF file) -

Previous blog posts by Chris F. Masse:

  • Americans love rankings, but Americans hate to be assessed subjectively.
  • A libertarian view on the Internet betting and gambling industry in the United States of America
  • The CFTC is going to close the comments in 10 days. We have 10 days left to convince the CFTC to accept FOR-PROFIT prediction exchanges (e.g., InTrade USA or BetFair USA), and counter the puritan and sterile petition organized by the American Enterprise Institute (which has on its payroll Paul Wolfowitz, the bright masterminder of the Iraq war).
  • The Numbers Guy
  • The CFTC Readings Of The Day —Thursday Morning Edition
  • The CFTC is going to close the comments in 11 days. We have 11 days left to convince the CFTC to accept FOR-PROFIT prediction exchanges, and counter the evil petition organized by the American Enterprise Institute (which has on its payroll Paul Wolfowitz, the bright masterminder of the Iraq war).
  • The definitive proof that FOR-PROFIT prediction exchanges (like BetFair and InTrade) are the best organizers of socially valuable prediction markets (like those on global warming and climate change).