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It's produced a whopping 367 point profit to date!
The debate has been ongoing ever since Betfair was established at the turn of the millennium. Having a clear cut answer to the question would make things easier, but in truth each have their advantages and disadvantages, and it's up to the individual to decide which suits them best.
I've listed some of the major pros and cons to take into consideration before deciding where to bet:
Best Odds Guaranteed: The ability to receive either the price taken or the start price, whichever is higher.
Ante-post and early prices: Being able to bet well in advance gives us the opportunity to find value, as does betting at odds available the evening / morning before a race to a lesser extent.
Other promotions and free bets: Many firms have money back or free bet offers during the bigger meetings and festivals.
Over-round: The odds are usually compiled to ensure a profit for the bookie, regardless of the race outcome.
Poor on-course and start prices: Betting at the races or taking SP offers poor value, and can lead to long term losses.
Account restrictions: Punters who win consistently, or are suspected of using a system, may have the amount they are allowed to bet reduced.
The Betting Exchange
Higher start prices: With no over-round, the prices available at race start time are usually close to the true chance each horse has of winning.
No account restrictions: We are betting against other people, meaning it doesn't matter who wins from the exchange's point of view.
Betting diversity: The ability to lay horses, bet on horses to place, and use trading strategies gives us many more ways to profit than was available previously.
Charges commission on winnings: Betfair takes a 5% cut of our winnings, other exchanges generally have lower rates of 2 - 3%.
Limited early liquidity: If wanting to place our bets well in advance, the amount available to bet may be limited, or we may have to accept lower odds.
One persons win is another's loss: A moral dilemma for some punters.
Some of the above factors affect us more than others. One main argument for exchange advocates is that 'bookies don't play fair'. This refers to bookmaker firms restricting accounts that are winning money, which has became a major issue for serious punters who wants to earn a permanent income from their betting. There is an ongoing petition to prevent bookmaker firms from continuing this practise, which can be signed by visiting:
With the amount of online bookmakers now in the hundreds, and more cropping up all the time, we have many options to choose from and it's unlikely that we'll reach a stage where there are none left to bet with. There's also the option to open mutiple accounts by asking the permission of your partner, a family member or friend, although of course this is frowned upon by the bookies.
Although account restriction has caused many punters to flock to the exchange, the other factors should also be taken into account and ultimately it's up to each person to decide where to place their bets. This usually depends on a variety of factors - the type of bet, the time of placement, the strategy being used, and the individuals overall approach to betting.
One piece of advice that we will give, is to always shop around for the best price. Sometimes the top price will be among the various bookmaker firms, sometimes on the exchange, meaning it's always useful to have accounts with several different firms.
Click here for a list of the major bookmaker and exchange websites, their welcome offers, and how likely they are to restrict accounts.