Betfair betting exchange – In numbers

What are the biggest markets on the Betfair betting exchange? Which sports are people gambling and which match the most amount of money in-play? Finding out what are the biggest markets can help you decide what Betfair trading strategies can you deploy into them. Let’s find out where the money is!

Betfair data

In this post, we will go through some Betfair UK data on every single market traded and the amount it turned over in matched bets. The top-line turnover figures can tell you a lot and are quite interesting in terms of the way that they describe what’s going on the Betfair exchange. This is data is collated through publically available data from Betfair, but we often supplment this data with information collected via Bet Angel. Check out out the forum for Automation and Spreadsheets that can collect and sort data.

We’ve snapshotted nine years worth of sports trading data to look, at but it excludes some most recent data, so is skewed against recent betting markets that exhibited recent high volume. Despite not being bang up to date, I think it’s worth sharing. Lack of current data, for example, this would understate recent growth in Betfair Cricket trading markets. But is generally accurate in aggregate when you look at the whole betting exchange site over roughly the last decade.

Betting exchanges offer a range of different market for Betfair traders. Out of interest, for all sports markets is I’ve split them between pre off rading, money matched before the event goes in play, and in-play trading to give you some sense of perspective and see the differences between individual sports.

What is the biggest trading market?

Have a guess what the biggest sports trading market is on the Betfair? It’s a sport that is very active pretty much each and every day during the year, almost day and night as well!

It’s horse racing. It was this volume that attracted me to trading racing, despite knowing nothing about it. I took one look at the market when I started trading seriously and realised I needed to get involved. After all, even if you are a small part of the market if you can make a good sum by being a small fish in a big pond. When I discovered that the make market strategy works, some of the itme, in horse racing I set off on my mission. Of course in the long run it’s not as simple as that as horse racing markets and very varied. There is no one fits all strategy. But the appeal was there.

If horse racing is the is the top pre-off event by matched betting volume, what do you think the second one is? If we read down that list it goes:

So you can really see horse racing, football trading and tennis trading are the big three. Those are the big markets in terms of pre off activity. If you are looking to scale your winning bets, lay betting or any strategy. Your targets have been laid out!

You may be surprised by some of these markets and the dominance of Horse Racing. But racing before the start of a race is highly variable. But that’s why there is so much money traded on them. They are the only ‘pure’ trading markets that have good volatility characteristics. Best of all, they are driven by opinion mainly, with only a smattering of fundamentals in the mix.

Inplay betting versus pre off markets

If you look at in play markets on a betting exchnage it is completely different. Some sports lend themselves well to trading in-play, rather than pre-off.

I’ve traditionally focused on pre-race markets on horse racing. One of the reasons for that is that there is obviously less done in-play on horse racing than there is done pre off. The pre-off market is quite volatile and variable so naturally, that generates a lot more activity on Betfair. If you look at a tennis match or football trading there’s hardly any volatility, it’s all about the in play as Ray Winston would say.

Some sports lend themselves naturally to in-play but other less so. In-running betting on a 5f horse race is manic and over within a minute. But if you are looking at a ‘lay the draw’ strategy in football for example then you have 90 minutes for all that money to get matched. It’s pretty obvious, that it’s going to be a bigger market.

So if you look at the split it’s a little bit different on the in play market:

How much is matched inplay?

You may be interested to know that horse racing is only about 20% of the matched betting turnover of horse racing is in play. That’s actually remained remarkably consistent over a number of years, I can’t ever remember a year where it wasn’t roughly 20%. So we’re saying 80% of the money occurs before the off and the remainder in-play. Overall the years I’ve been on horse racing, that ratio seems to be unchanged. As the volume in the market rises and falls, they do so in unison and the ratio remains. I’ve no idea why this is the case, perhaps you can comment on why you think this happens? But the two are obviously interlinked somehow.

As I have stated above, Cricket almost certainly gets a higher ranking place now and may be nudging further up the list as the market grows. If you actually look at the percentage of profit that is in play versus the total matched turnover horse racing is quite low, it’s 20%. Other sports are much more in-play centric. The following graphic shows sports and their percentages matched inplay versus pre-off. You can instantly see which sports are mainly in-play markets. Cricket holds it rightful place at the top of this list.

Why betting exchanges beat other platforms

Getting liquidity into in-play markets and offering competitive prices works beautifully well on the Betfair betting exchange, but not so well when betting with a traditional bookmaker. It’s relatively easy to pick off bookmakers prices if you have a fast feed. But your account will last a couple of days at the most. It’s much harder on an exchange.

Using special offers and other marketing mechanics, bookmakers can mask their uncompetitive pricing in pre-off markets but that is much harder to do efficiently on in-play markets. But also other exchanges have problems competing. If their in-play delay is too short, all the easy money will be swept off the table. If it’s too long, then people won’t use it. It’s a bit of a catch 22 situation. Therefore, in-play betting is clearly the domain of a betting exchange.

How in-play trading markets are growing

If we dig around quite an interesting picture is developing. If you look at in-play markets on football trading, the amount of money that’s being bet in-play has increased by nearly £3 billion between 2011 and 2016. If you look at cricket that’s increased by £7 billion in five years. That is huge, it was £4 billion it’s now approaching £12 billion. However, look at some of the other sports. Tennis and Horse racing have declined a bit, but you can see there’s growth on Football and especially cricket. Football is cyclical and peaks at major tournaments, so that’s what we are seeing there. But Cricket is booming.

So some sports have grown in profit opportunities, some have declined. There are probably some reasons behind that but hopefully, all of that data that I’ve given you has been useful. I just thought they’d be interesting to you to highlight which are the biggest markets, the split between pre off and in play and which ones are growing and declining.

The key to all these markets is that each of them matches billions. So wether you choose to a pre-off market, or an inplay market for your Betfair trading strategy. It’s perfectly acceptable to be a small fish in a big poind. Even a tiny % of profit on these numbers will add up to a decent amount!

* I have to thank Liam who posted on the forum (as he does every year) with all of this data. I do collect this data but I’m not as organised, because I never seem to have the time to organise and sort it properly. So I am incredibly grateful to all the forum members that post up data information spreadsheets.*

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