Betfair betting exchange will launch its starting price betting service in the
middle of next month, after it received the approval of a number of the
exchange's biggest-staking clients at a series of demonstrations over the last
Betfair has spent two
years developing a robust system to allow bets to be placed at its own SP. As a
result, three extra columns will soon be added to its display for every win
market on its British and Irish racing service: one for bets on a horse at the
Betfair SP, one for "lay" bets against it at SP, and a "guide" price in the
middle showing what the SP is likely to be.
The SP market and the
normal exchange market will be separate, in an attempt to ensure that it is
extremely difficult to manipulate the SP. Betfair also hopes to offset any
reduction in overall liquidity - which is vital to any exchange - by attracting
The great majority of
off-course bets are still settled at the official SP, derived from on-course
betting markets, while even on the internet, around 55% of racing bets are
settled at SP. The Betfair SP, derived from a market with a negligible profit
margin, will allow punters to make a direct comparison between the bookmakers'
odds and those on offer on the exchange.
SP bets will have some
differences from "normal" bets on Betfair. Whereas normal bets can be cancelled
until the moment when a rival gambler accepts the other side of the bet, SP
bets cannot be cancelled once placed. Punters can, however, specify a minimum
price at which they are willing to back, and a maximum price for lay bets.
In time, SP betting is likely to extend to the exchange's place-only
markets, and to many other sports in which the SP concept has never been used
"This has the potential to be the most significant step forward
for Betfair since the exchange was launched," Stephen Burn, Betfair's director
of horse racing, said yesterday. "Racing is scratching the surface. In time, we
hope that we will be able to add it across football, tennis and so on. We could
even return an SP on the next general election."